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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree Christmas 2019 > SEEKING HIGH SEAS adventurers


Was you ancestor engaged in some profitable Georgian swashbuckling? Ship-owners and experienced seafarers may be identified in maritime warfare sources with which genealogists may be less familiar. Start exploring these records with Simon Wills

Privateers could be considered as hired mercenaries who ran a kind of private British navy, sanctioned by the Government. Even though it was legal and dates back centuries, it’s a role that epitomises a sense of lawlessness that emanates from the 18th century. Privateering was at its height during the Georgian era since Britain was at war for most of this period.

Despite their reputation, privateers were not the same as pirates who operated outside the law and were executed if apprehended. Privateers operated via a kind of official licensing system, although their description as ‘legalised pirates’ is not entirely inaccurate. Accordingly, it was not considered a very respectable line of work even though, privately, many wealthy people such as Samuel Pepys invested in them in order to make money.

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Celebrate your ancestors and discover how to trace back 300 years! We’ve got must-search records and essential websites to help you trace your Georgian family Plus: Discover the 5 top tips that will help you become a better family history researcher Enjoy our DNA wish list – with 12 ways that DNA might be able to boost your sleuthing Take our Family Tree Academy test and see how good you are at ancestor-hunting Cosy up with our fun family history quiz – 35 questions to celebrate 35 years of Family Tree – helping readers since 1984