Family Tree Friday: War of 1812 Passenger List

Today’s post is brought to you by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, Archivist in the Archives I Research Support Branch.

June 18, 2011 marks the 199th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812.

On June 18, 1812, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Congress declared war against Great Britain. On about the same date, nearly 3,400 miles away, at Dublin, Ireland, 83 Irish men, women, and children, and 3 American men boarded the Vermont, an American sailing ship captained by Samuel C. Nicoll of Stratford, Connecticut. The Vermont was bound for New York. No one on board knew that war had started.

On July 15, 1812, Captain Frederick Lee, commanding the U.S. Revenue Cutter Eagle, spied four large sailing vessels off of Long Island, New York, that he suspected were British warships. Two days later he saw the Vermont, and signaled her to stop and be boarded. Captain Nicoll and his passengers now learned about the war. Nicoll produced a passenger list and cargo manifest, dated “at sea, June 19th, 1812,” which Lee took, and it became part of the records of the Collector of Customs at New London, Connecticut.

This chance encounter resulted in the preservation of the Vermont’s passenger list which otherwise would have been lost to history. The U.S. Federal Government did not require passenger lists to be submitted to collectors of customs until January 1, 1820, so there are relatively few pre-1820 passenger lists in the National Archives. A transcript is provided below.

The Vermont’s passenger list has been reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication M2095, Lists of Passengers Arriving at and Departing from the District of Fairfield, Connecticut, 1804–1889 (1 roll). Part of Record Group 36, Records of the U.S. Customs Service, 1745 – 1997, M2095 is available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, as well as many of our regional facilities. The original records that were microfilmed as M2095 are located at The National Archives at Boston.

For more information on War of 1812 records in the national Archives, see our website.

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