Ships, boats and yachts that were berthed in Scottish ports on census day were enumerated and in 1921 this included the Britannia, a racing yacht owned by His Majesty King George V. Its name is shared by the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia which is now permanently berthed at Leith docks.

Hunters Quay, Dunoon

The Britannia was berthed at Hunters Quay in Dunoon on 19 June 1921. Hunters Quay was once the headquarters of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club, and today Western Ferries operate regular services from it.

There were 33 people enumerated on the yacht on census day, 32 crew and one passenger, but no members of the Royal Family were aboard.

The one passenger listed is Major Phillip Hunloke from London who was the King’s Representative. Major Hunloke served as a groom in waiting to King George V from 1911 to 1936.

The yacht masters appear to be father and son Charles (59) and Sydney (24) Seavett from Tollesbury in  Essex. There are another three men with the surname Seavett recorded on the yacht all from Tollesbury in Essex, they were probably all related and a great find for anyone researching this unusual name.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 510/01/15, pages 21 and 22

Twelve of those recorded in the archive were employed by the Royal Navy and the rest by H.M. The King and included chefs, stewards and seamen.

Two other yachts moored Hunters Quay in 1921 had famous Scottish owners.

Druid owned by William A Coats from Paisley, a retired thread manufacturer who is aboard his yacht. Interestingly the yacht is also crewed by men from Tollesbury in Essex.

Harbinger was also berthed in Dunoon. Its owner was Thomas Dunlop, eldest son of Thomas Dunlop, founder of the shipping company Thomas Dunlop and Sons, and Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1914-1916 who was also aboard his yacht on census day.

Greenock Docks

This Royal Navy battleship HMS Resolution was just five years old when it was berthed in Greenock Docks on census day 1921.

The crew of 941 are all enumerated and include 17 year old Arthur Thomas Powell whose occupation is recorded as Bugler employed by the Royal Marine Artillery. Arthur was not the youngest serving on the ship. We can see at least 35 teenagers or Boy Seamen enumerated on this page.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 902/S/6, page 14

There are a wide variety of occupations enumerated in the census pages including officers cooks, telegraphists, blacksmiths, stokers, joiners, painters, plumbers, surgeons and even a schoolmaster giving us a unique insight into life aboard HMS Resolution.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 503/17/1, page 1


The ship docked in Helensburgh gives us another interesting look into life in the 1920s.

The Clyde Industrial Training Ship Association helped young boys around the ages of 11 to 14, mostly who were homeless or destitute, and educated them aboard ships. Most of the boys aboard the Empress were Scottish but we also see some from Ireland and England.

Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland, 1921 Census 503/17/2, page 1

So if you cannot find that elusive teenager in the census, widen your search to include ships on the sea. To look specifically for vessels you can choose ‘shipping’ in the county/city section of the advanced search section.

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