The cigar maker and the Hungarian-American Photographer 2

In my October 2015 Blog I detailed the life and times of my cigar maker ancestor James Baker MORRIS and his trip to the USA.

So how might you discover details about your ancestors who left the UK?


James Baker MORRIS was born 3 May 1828 1 the son of David MORRIS (1805-1888) and Elizabeth CHAPMAN (1801-1876). James left the UK for America in 1860. 

The following websites are ones you may not have come across. I have ignored Ancestry and Findmypast who will also have records relating to ancestors who left the UK. Remember, if you don’t have access to Ancestry and Findmypast at home check with your local library.

Starter websites

A good start for your search maybe Ships Passenger Lists

Here are a few websites I’ve found really useful for my research:

+ Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild:

+ Passenger lists at The National Archives:

+ Ships Passenger Lists indexes:

+ Ships Passenger Lists:

+ Passenger Ship Arrivals:

+ Ships Passenger Lists and links: – Ships listed by name. The background wallpaper of this website is lovely, but doesn’t help in reading the links. However do persevere as there are many useful resources.


Websites to continue with

Then if you find the name of the ship your ancestors sailed on try these websites:

+ Old ship picture galleries:

+ Shipping companies and shipping lists:

+ Australian shipping 1788-1968:

+ Picture Australia:



How about the ports your ancestors may have left from? Have you thought about researching these? Try: as a starting point.


Other websites

Other websites:

+ Database of wrecks: or

+ Shipping News:


Castle Garden

Finally if like me, you assumed all immigrants arriving in New York were through Ellis Island think again. It wasn’t until 1892 that Ellis Island accepted immigrants through its halls. Before this Castle Garden (now a museum and ticket office for its more famous successor) was the welcome post for immigrants arriving in New York City. Opened on the 3 August 1855 it eventually registered 8 million newcomers to the United States of America. You can search the database of Castle Garden immigrants for free at:

If you are interested in searching the Ellis Island database try:

I hope you find these links useful – please let me know how you get on and what discoveries you make!


Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Kent. He delivers courses, guidance, talks and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See for his 5 steps to discovering your ancestors. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation.

What stories might your ancestors tell?


1  Source G Munro 2007: James the son of David Morris of Poole in the Parish of St James in the County of Dorset Painter and of Elizabeth his wife, who was the daughter of Thomas and Jane CHAPMAN, was born on the Third day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight. And was solemnly baptised with water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, on the Thirty-first day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight, by me, Henry Young Chiverton, Minister.

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