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L is for Lean's Navy Lists

L is for Lean's Navy Lists

Portrait of a naval officer (c.1918)
Portrait of a Naval Officer ca 1918 courtesy of Pellethepoet on Flickr.  Creative Commons licence here.

Simon Fowler says on page 48 of Tracing Your Naval Ancestors:

Lean's Navy List dates between 1878 and 1916.  Lean's is worth looking out for as they provide rather more information about officer than other official Lists, such as birth years of individuals as well as short biographies of their service and decorations.

Where do you find Lean's Navy Lists ? Fowler recommend the National Maritime Museum, Admiralty Library  (which is now housed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth - unfortunately you cannot search the library's catalogue online) and British Library. All very well if you live in England. 

I looked for them on WorldCat too.  Have you used WorldCat?  You should if you haven't - very useful. There I discovered that they are also at the National Library of Scotland and Bodleian Library Oxford. It's also at the San Francisco National Maritime National Historical park. There are probably more libraries that have it. Why don't you check your local fabulous library?  I have only been able to find it in the State Library of Western Australia as far as Australia is concerned.

Here's a glowing endorsement of Lean's List from the Age in 1903

FOUR BOOKS OF REFERENCE (1903, March 21). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), , p. 4. Retrieved April 7, 2016, from

I haven't been able to find out much about Lieut-Colonel Francis Lean apart from the fact that he was married to and then was divorced rather quickly from Florence Marryat (yes, the daughter of Captn Marryat who wrote The Children of the New Forrest and Mr Midshipman Easy.  Florence sounds quite a woman from the biographies I have found on the internet.  (If you are a member of the National Library of Australia you can read her official biography on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography site). She was a novelist, playwright, spiritualist, singer and actress according to this website and performed in Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

I think it is time for my favourite Gilbert and Sullivan performer Drew Forsythe to sing you a little ditty from HMAS Pinafore.  


GeniAus said…
Thanks for this lead.Will put on my list to find when I'm off adventuring.
Thank you for this post! I started reading your post a little while ago and decided to go visit WorldCat as you suggested and have spent quite some time chasing bunnies there. I even found books that can be read online through WorldCats link to ebrary that went along with pictures and/or themes of two other A to Z Challenge bloggers. Thanks again!

Have a great day. :)
Dianne said…
Interesting, Alex! A couple of my peripheral ancestors were navy in UK and it would be nice to find more info to complete their profiles.
In Canada the Archives are in the process of digitizing all the army record files from WWI. When they are done they will do the Navy files... waiting for that of a great uncle, but it is all the way to the T's, so not holding my breath.
Alex Daw said…
Oh I am so glad you are enjoying worldcat Suzanne. It's very useful indeed.
Alex Daw said…
My pleasure Jill!
Alex Daw said…
Dear Dianne...I hope that the Archives can tap into some crowd sourcing to speed it up for you!
Alex Daw said…
Dear Dianne...I hope that the Archives can tap into some crowd sourcing to speed it up for you!
Alex Daw said…
My pleasure Jill!
Sue said…
Thanks for sharing the Gilbert and Sullivan. Good luck on your genealogy research!
Sue said…
Thanks for sharing the Gilbert and Sullivan piece. Good luck on your genealogy research!

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