Passenger lists

This guide was last updated in 2009

When Kim Cattrall’s ancestor left his wife and family, they had no idea where he had gone. Later, there were rumours that he had emigrated to America, but nobody knew for certain. For years, the family had wanted to solve this mystery.

It is not uncommon for genealogists to identify a ‘missing’ ancestor in their family tree – someone who is there on one record and gone on the next, leaving no evidence that they died in between.

One of the key tools for finding these ancestors is passenger lists; our missing ancestors may have gone abroad. Other genealogists know from family tales, documents or indeed relatives in other countries that an ancestor went abroad, but may not have a clear idea of when they went, why or whether they ever returned.

Fortunately, records are available for people who came from or travelled to many parts of the world, whether for a temporary period or permanently, so you may just be able to find out more.

It was an adventure for our ancestors to travel abroad, and it can be an adventure for us to trace them. Happily, increasing numbers of records are available online, and here are some suggestions as to how you might pursue your search for your globe-trotting ancestor.

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