Seamen’s Protection Certificate, Samu el Endicott
- In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Britain routinely removed British sailors who were found on American ships, and those removals often included Americans. The practice, known as impressment, became one of the central causes of the War of 1812.
In an effort to protect American seamen from impressment, Congress authorized the issuance of Seamen’s Protection Certificates, which identified seamen as American citizens. Since citizenship was a requirement, you’ll typically find the place of birth listed and could find naturalization details for immigrants.
For identification purposes, the records also include physical descriptions. Typically age, height, complexion, eye and hair color is given as well as scars and other distinctive physical features.
I have access to these documents via Ancestry.com including copies of the originals. There is some useful information on these documents,
Name: Samuel Endicott Declaration Port: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Declaration Date: 30 Nov 1807 Age: 28 Birth Year: abt 1779 Birthplace: Tinicum Island, Pennsylvania Residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Witness Name: John Robinson Archive Publication: M1880 Archive Roll: 8
28 years of age
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Hair color: Brown
Complexion: Grey eyes; scar on left shoulder, part of an anchor on the right arm, a scar on each foot.