RS23E Port Returns [including Passenger Lists]

In 1832, a provincial statute (2 William IV Chapter 36) was enacted by the General Assembly of New Brunswick entitled "An Act ot Regulate Vessels Arriving from the United Kingdom with Passengers and Emigrants" (see link above). It imposed a duty of five shillings for each passenger landed which was to be paid by the ship's master. The Treasurer or any Deputy Treasurer was to receive such monies and the funds collected were to be directed towards the relief from the burdens of caring for diseased and destitute immigrants. In this manner passenger lists, which were simply manifests of cargo, became part of Custom House records retained in the Province. In 1835, the provincial Secretary was given responsibility for all Custom House returns (5 William IV Chapter 49).

Some manifests include details on the passenger, such as age, occupation, sex, county or point of origin, reason for leaving, etc. (These were indexed and digitized.) Some manifests, however, give only the number of passengers on board and the duty due. (These could not be indexed and were not digitized.)

The Imperial Government in London passed, repealed, and re-enacted a series of acts relating to the carrying of passengers; acts which emphasized the conditions under which passengers were to be conveyed. No mention could be found of a tax or duty as out-lined in the New Brunswick Statutes. The creation and filing of lists of passengers was required under various shipping acts of the United Kingdom but those lists were retained at British and Irish ports. This might help to explain the paucity of passenger lists in provincial records before 1832. Disasters like the Great Fire of Saint John in 1877, the vagaries of time, and the lack of a provincial archives in New Brunswick before 1967, might also explain the lack of documentation of the great wave of immigration which hit North America in the Nineteenth Century.

All extant passenger lists located at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick have been indexed and digitized for this project. The database of immigrants contains 10,412 entries. Sadly, this represents only about 135 lists. As can be seen from the attached table for statistical information on emigration from the British Isles, 1815-1865, this is a very small portion of all immigrants to New Brunswick.

All passengers are indexed, as are all crew members because immigrants may have worked their passage as seamen. The following information is provided to assist research:

Name of the passenger or crew member:  every effort has been made to render the names accurately; cross references to alternate spellings (pronunciations) have also been added where the passenger list spelling is obviously a phonetic spelling

Name of the Ship

Name and Country of Port of Origin:  all the persons in this index are from a port of origin in:

  • Ireland   9721 entries
  • Scotland   320 entries
  • England   410 entries

Note Concerning the Passenger:  in most cases, this note is simply that the person is a passenger or crew member; in some cases, however, the note indicates some detail from the passenger list concerning the person.

Archival Reference to the Passenger List:  The exact reference to a list might look like this: RS23E1/1833e75. RS23 indicates Provincial Sectretary: Custom House Records. "E" indicates the Port Returns within the Customs House records; the number following "E" indicates the port within New Brunswick where the returns were filed (eg. 1 = Saint John, 2 = St. Andrews, and 6 = Bathurst); the date is the year of entry; the lower case letter ("e") following the date indicates the designation for the passenger lists within the returns for that port in that year; the number ("75") following the lower case letter is the number of a unique passenger list for a particular ship.

Number:  This is the number of the passenger or crew member as shown on the passenger list (in the majority of cases, these numbers are physically on the lists, in some cases they are "virtual", but used to help researchers find the name on the list).

Microfilm Number:  this is the microfilm reel number (F-number) on which the passenger list can be viewed using that format. The original lists have been withdrawn from research use.

Passenger lists have been found for the following ports ONLY:

  • Saint John   1816, 1833, 1834, 1838
  • St. Andrews   1837, 1838
  • Bathurst   1837

Researchers who might want to study these lists on microfilm can refer to the following

E1/1816aSaint JohnF9798
E1/1833el-e76Saint JohnF9798
E1/1834el-e78, e121Saint JohnF9798
E1/1838hl-h16Saint JohnF9799
E2/1837aSt. AndrewsF9799
E2/1838dSt. AndrewsF9799

This digitization project was undertaken by the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick with matching funds provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Council of Archives' cost-shared co-operative assistance program known as CAIN (Canadian Archival Information Network).