The Marine Society was the world’s first charity dedicated to seafarers. It’s history dates back to 1756 when Britain was on the brink of war with Europe. Its founder, Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) was a trader who was concerned his crew would be poached to fight in the King’s navy.

His solution was as pragmatic as it was philanthropic. He recruited boys from poor backgrounds and gave them naval training so they were equipped to fight on the King’s ships. While this protected his own business interests, it also gave the boys a chance for a respected career, when few other opportunities were open to them.

This began the Marine Society’s relationship with what, over 100 years later, became the Royal Navy. 

By the time of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 a significant proportion of manpower for the navy was being supplied, trained and equipped with Marine Society boys. 






The charity continued to support young people, clothing and training them on training ships up until 1944, when war signalled a shift in direction and a decision was taken to instead assist other maritime organisations and help individuals who wished to go to sea professionally, but were unable to find the means financially of doing so. (The average cost of kit for a cadet in 1949 was about £80). 

In 1976 the Marine Society consolidated its position of supporting the maritime community even further when it merged with the Seafarers Education Service. The charity continued to provide and develop educational services to seafarers along with the provision of libraries to ships.

Today the charity contiunes to champion the well-being, personal, and professional development of seafarers and  now delivers a range of services appreciated by seafarers across the globe. The charity focuses on education/professional development, financial support, book/media services, and advice & guidance.

Supporting seafarers is our strength

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© MSSC, 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW
Patron: HM The Queen
A charity registered in England and Wales 313013 and in Scotland SC037808