Enrolment Certificate

American Maritime Documents 1776-1860

Stein, Douglas L. 1992

Printed document of various sizes. Enrolment (spelled with one “l “on the document); contained some variation of the phrase, “…in conformity to an act of the Congress of the United States of America entitled, An Act for Enrolling and Licensing Ships or Vessels….” The word “Enrolment “is often printed prominently, and engraved eagles and other embellishments are frequently found on the earlier documents. The signatures of various customs officials are present, along with official stamps or seals.

By the Act of 18 February 1793, all vessels over 20 tons engaged in the domestic coasting trade or the fisheries, in order to be entitled to the privileges of ships of the United States, had to be enrolled. The document was issued by the customs surveyor, or the collector, and the enrollment qualifications and procedures, were the same as those for registering ships. “And the same duties and authorities are given and imposed on all officers respectively in relation to such Enrollments…and the ships so enrolled, with the master or owner, are subject to the same requisites, as are in those respects provided for ships registered. ” In addition, enrolled vessels carried a license for either fishing or coastal trade. A cash bond, the amount of which depended upon the size of the vessel, was necessary to enroll a vessel, and they could be revoked if the conditions of the document were violated. Enrolment Certificates are fairly common maritime manuscripts, and they can provide valuable information about a vessel or her owners.

Enrolment certificate

An Enrolment Certificate for the steamboat Nashville, 4 January 1853. This was the first permanent Enrolment issued at the port of New York that year.

Surrender of enrolment

Certificate acknowledging the surrender of a sloop’s Enrolment and License, signed by the Collector, December 27, 1797.