Muster Books

Muster Books are one of the key documents when researching the crew of a ship. While less descriptive than Description Books, they are far more common and still provide a lot of information about a person. They also provide a way to start digging into a sailor’s life, often giving their previous ship, their next ship (where possible), their age and their place of birth or residence.

All currently published muster books are part of the public domain and can be found at the English National Archives in Kew, London, under archive code ADM 37 (“Admiralty: Ships’ Musters (Series III)”).

About the Publication

All muster books published here will be of ships that were part of polar expeditions. They have been transcribed and cleaned up for posting, meaning that they are not exact transcriptions from the primary sources. The following things have been changed:

  • Due to table variations, headings and columns have been simplified to a degree. This means a few of the later columns, especially with relation to victualling and muster dates, are removed in current publications (they are rarely filled in/filled in consistently).
  • Abbreviations for names have been resolved wherever possible. Initials are occasionally exempted if the name can’t be found.
  • Ditto marks (〃) have been kept in where there doesn’t seem to a value foregoing them and/or the mark may mean something different.
  • Archaic spelling and/or mistakes have been kept in. This includes the (non-)changes of table headers. A ‘two months advance’ not being changed to 3/6 months in the header, may be an error of the person who filled in the muster and not reflect the values given.
  • Due to being tables, some text has been turned into footnotes. This is often crossed out text, overflow text, or updates of which only the latest value is important.
  • For the Erebus and Terror musters of 1845 (Franklin Expedition): the ‘Perseus’ value for the transported sailors has an unresolved acronym that is not in the table due to illegibility.

Terms of Use

Due to the nature of the transcriptions and their formatting, they are to be credited to Arctonauts when used or referenced. Copying an entire table or its entire content is not allowed even when credit is provided.


HMS Erebus (1845)

ADM 38/672; part of the Franklin Expedition

HMS Terror (1845)

ADM 38/1962; part of the Franklin Expedition