All at sea with a new cousin

So this makes the nice large wall chart of dad’s family “out of date”, if that’s the right phrase for having newly discovered historic information. With a bit of help from the Ancestry Facebook page {1}, I’ve downloaded the 1911 census form for my ‘half great great uncle’ William John Cullum from the actual Ancestry site. And yes, there is another offspring who was not recorded in the 1901 version. I had guessed there would be two, so I won’t make any great claims here.

(Doesn’t a “half great” equal to ‘a no more than adequate’ great uncle?)

In mess dress. Photo courtesy Muriel Shephard

Stanley John Cullum was born 1904 (21st April from two sources) in Catford, south east London, and died December 1984 Lewes district in Sussex. I believe that district includes the place where his father was at the end of his life, Burnt House in Newick, but I’m not at all sure he took over that property. The wonderful Phone Book directories available on Ancestry have a Stanley J Cullum in Hastings in 1954, 1956, 1964 and 1966 (and other dates in between I haven’t checked) – but see note 2 (and comment) below. He would be my (half) first cousin twice removed.

What is much more interesting is the Passenger Lists records – in this case USA ‘list or manifest of aliens employed on the vessel as member of crew’.  These show without doubt that he was a ship’s engineer. Here’s the data:

  • January 1947 – arrival at Portland, Oregon, USA, from Vancouver, Canada, ship  Lochmanar, “refrig. eng.”, 20 years service at sea.
  • May 1947 – arrival at Everett, Washington USA, from Vancouver, ship Lochmanar, “refrig. eng.”, 21 years at sea.
  • May 1953 – arrival San Francisco, from Vancouver, ship Pampas, Chief Engineer, 27 years at sea.
  • Feb 1956 – arrival San Francisco, from Vancouver, ship Paraguay, Ch Engineer, 29 years at sea (gives full date of birth).

The records give his height varying from 5 foot 6.5 inches to 5′ 9″!

Given about 30 years at sea, I was surprised there weren’t more such lists, so another look while I write this finds four more. All from earlier years, and all starting from Vancouver or New Westminster, British Columbia.

  • Nov 1933 arrival at Seattle, ship Nebraska, 4th engineer, 8 years at sea.
  • Aug 1934 arrival at Bellingham, Washington, ship Nebraska, 4th engineer, 10 years at sea.
  • Aug 1935 arrival at Seattle, ship Narenta, 4th engineer, 9 years at sea.
  • Dec 1935 arrival at Seattle, ship Narenta, “asst ref eng”, 9 years at sea.

And I also have now noticed that all the 5 ships were owned by Royal Mail Lines Ltd.

Nearly all of these are quite short voyages – were there more just within Canada? Or if he didn’t embark at the American port, would he still show on the manifest? As the US records only cover up to 1957, there could be later ones waiting in the wings. But what about getting to Canada from England in the first place, and going to and fro, assuming the Hastings phone number is his {2}? A bit early to be using airlines (would be too costly even for a chief engineer)?

There is bound to be more on Royal Mail Line ships on the web, so time for a trawl.


The Royal Mail Lines site run by Stuart Nichols had some information on the ships operating in the last days of this company during the 1960s, but at Feb. 2013 that website seems to have gone – – try Wikipedia instead. Both Pampas and Paraguay were a “General freighter built principally for Brazil and River Plate services.” About 5,500 tons, Harland & Wolff, Belfast. So that gives a different spin – was Stanley mainly operating in South America? On the other hand, a general shipping site,, has his earlier ship Lochmonar as running a UK to Vancouver service.

Nothing further found for the 1930s ships Nebraska and Narenta yet, beyond their tonnage (around 8,250) and that they were built at Workman Clark, Belfast.

Further Update

Following contact with this side of the family, Sept 2011, I now have more details and a wonderful photo (above).


  1. 1911 census: At the moment there isn’t an index to the census images on Ancestry, so you have to use the summary books index. Unfortunately a) this usually only shows the surname of head of household – you need a very good idea of where someone is likely to be to stand any chance, and b) transcriptions aren’t 100% it seems. So I’ve only located the right Cullum image on Ancestry because someone with a Find My Past sub found it over there first (Find My Past had exclusive access to 1911 census for a year or so).
  2. From family info, the Stanley J Cullum appearing in Hastings must be a coincidence. Worth keeping a note in case of any further confusion, though.

Also see

Cutlock and Cullum, A fruitful life for an accountant (re Stanley’s father).

3 thoughts on “All at sea with a new cousin

  1. Haven’t read this piece before and enjoyed the story. I expect you have gathered from previous correspondence that it was Arthur Cullum, the older brother, who inherited Burnt House, not Stanley. Arthur sold the house and built several houses on the property – opposite the apple shed. Sharon would probably know what happened after her grandmother died and Arthur married again, as you discovered Arthur died elsewhere. After living in Bromley, Kent, Stanley did live in Newick leading up to his death.

  2. I am one of Sharon’s brothers ( the other being Trevor). I still live in Newick, and have just found this wonderful site. Stanley ( our Great Uncle – known in the family as Uncle Toby) was Chief Engineer on RMS Oregon – I believe this was the last ship before he retired – 1965 if I remember correctly. During his working life, he owned a couple of properties in London that were rented out, and lived in Hayes, Bromley when ashore. I’m not aware of any links to Hastings for him. Arthur Cullum, our grandfather, remarried after our Grandmother’s death and moved to Clacton, Essex when he died of a brain tumour. I have copies of William John’s will and also Susan’s ( Arthur’s wife) which I can copy and forward to you if you are interested. I would love to know the photo album password – could you let me know, please. Graham King

  3. Thanks for the comment, Graham. The last ship is RMS Aragon, rather than Oregon, according to your sister, which fits with a ship of that name listed on the Royal Mail Lines website mentioned above. A friend with some interest in shipping tells me:

    The Aragon was a twenty twenty ship. Twenty thousand tonnes (volume not weight) and twenty knots top speed. For many years this was considered the optimal economic parameters for most shipping. Big enough to get economies of scale and small enough to be flexible for any type of service. Containerisation changed all this. I assume she was a mixed passenger and general freight ship which was the norm before Containerisation.

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