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Battle of Trafalgar Database : British and Irish Ancestors : Online and Free

Were your military ancestors among the many thousands of British and Irish participants at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805? Perhaps they were among the combatants on board the 33 British ships who successfully fought the larger combined French and Spanish fleets?

Picture of HMS Victory flagship of Admiral Nelson at Battle of Trafalgar courtesy of Portsmouth Historic Dockyad

Above: HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar

Thanks to the British National Archives' Trafalgar Ancestors database, details of more than 18,000 military personnel who were known to be present at the battle are available on their website. And of course, it is my favourite type of genealogical resource in that it is online and free.

According to the National Archives, the Royal Navy employed approximately 110,000 people in 1805. So, if your ancestor served in the Royal Navy at that time, there is a roughly one in six chance he was at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Trafalgar Ancestors database includes Royal Navy commissioned and warrant officers, ratings, supernumeraries and Royal Marines. These individuals came from a wide geographic area including Ireland, Africa, America, the West Indies, India, and most countries in Europe. So don't limit yourself to searching for British ancestors.

Trafalgar Ancestors is one of the very few places online which lists service information about non-commissioned officers and ratings in the 1800s. Unless they were officers, it is usually necessary to know a sailor or marine's ship name/s to find more information about their naval career - something which is always difficult to research. So if you find an ancestor in this database, it will list at least one ship which in turn can lead you to further research.

What information is in the database?

Many of the personnel entries in Trafalgar Ancestors already include a career summary based on research in the Admiralty records held by the National Archives. It is an ongoing project which aims to eventually include a service history for each participant in the database.

The database lists some or all of the following information about each of the 18,000 individuals who fought with the Royal Navy at Trafalgar:


Age as at 21 October 1805;

Place of birth;

The ship on which served during the battle;

The individual's previous and subsequent ships;

Rating or Rank;

A summary of known Royal Naval service.

How do I search Trafalgar Ancestors?

The database offers two search options - basic and advanced. The basic search is by last name only, however, the advanced option can be searched by any one or more of the above fields (other than naval service summary).

Image of Trafalgar Ancestors search screen courtesy of National Archives

Above: the advanced search screen in Trafalgar Ancestors

The National Archives has delivered a unique online genealogical resource drawn from their outstanding Admiralty collection. And, as I said earlier, they're not finished yet. There's more to come in terms of participants' service records which the Archives continues to research and add to Trafalgar Ancestors.

How did you go?

Did you find an ancestor at Trafalgar? If you did, do let me know in the Comments Section below. If not, but you know someone else who might be interested, please don't hesitate to like and share this Blog post.

Until next week . . . happy ancestor hunting.

Therese Lynch

Your Family Genealogist

Pictures : National Archives

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