National Archives at Boston

The Crew

New England Customs Records

The Crew

Refer to CaptionCrew list for the Ship Mount Vernon, June 4, 1803.See transcription

The Crew List

The crew list was the official document listing all the members of a ship's crew for a voyage. One copy was filed along with the manifest with the Collector of Customs. One copy was also carried on the voyage as part of the ship's papers, along with the original certificate of registry and the manifest.

The Mount Vernon was among the largest ships sailing from Salem, yet the crew list shows that it employed only 14 men, a number that may seem small today. For each seaman the crew list indicates position, place of birth, current residence, age, complexion, and height.

Seamen were often very young at this time and the crew of the Mount Vernon is no exception. Excluding the Master, whose age is not shown, the oldest men shown on the Ship Mount Vernon were the first and second mates at 28 and 29 years old. The remainder of the crew has an average age of about 20 years old. A cabin boy was the youngest crew member on board at age 16. However, it was not uncommon for seamen to be as young as 16 and cabin boys were sometimes only 12 or 13. The crew members were all Americans and almost all were born in the Salem area. By contrast, a crew list for the United Fruit Company’s Steamship Esparta which sailed from Boston in 1918 listed over 100 men of many nationalities and an older average age.

See a portion of the crew list for the Steamship Esparta Adobe Acrobat PDF

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List and full citation for documents in this exhibit
Resources: Documents of Other Salem Ships