Most of you will not come across shipping returns; however, Cornwall being Cornwall, lots of pieces do have a few ships in them.
Shipping returns are covered in the general instructions, but it is obvious that the information is not getting through.
Usually, ships have two types of pages; both should be photographed by the LDS. One is the crew list, which you treat just as you do any other page of returns, except that it usually has the Master’s signature on the bottom. This might be important if the Captain is not on board. It also has the ship’s name at the top, sometimes useful if you cannot read the name on the other page that should be photographed.
The second page is the schedule front page. We don’t see these pages normally because we are transcribing from the enumerator’s returns and these are the actual householder schedules. So the Captain’s signature is the genuine article. There is a lot of information (usually) on this page that can be extracted. The address is the ship’s name plus its home port, written as (Elizabeth) Fowey. Any schedule number will be at the top of the page and will be issued when the forms are picked up, probably in another port. The ED number is nearly always zero, but has a suffix, 2 for RN vessels and 8 for merchant navy or fishing.
The tonnage & type plus any registration number can be entered in the notes field. In the central block is the Captain’s name. If he is not on the crew list, create a record for him anyway. Bottom right on this front page is a small block showing how many people are ashore. Enter this in the notes as well. Sometimes names are given here. If they are and if they are not on the crew list – create records for them with the data you have.
If the returns give the ship’s position at sea, then try and fit it in the notes. If you don’t have room on the Captain’s record, then you can put it in one of the other records. The crew list page will have a folio number, but probably not a page number. The Civil Parish is usually given on the lead in page, which you may not have. You can always ask me, I might have it.
The aim is to extract all the information there is and fit it into our format. Imaginative use of notes is the order of the day!