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Meet the crew

Meet the crew of the Mary Rose and discover their stories of life on board Henry VIII’s favourite ship!

Exploring the crew

We know from contemporary naval accounts that in addition to the crew of mariners, soldiers and gunners, the larger vessels also had a sailing master (navigator), a bosun, a lieutenant, a surgeon, a carpenter, a purser, a cook, and a master gunner. Many would have had additional helpers or ‘mates’. Adding in other officers, musicians, trumpeters and servants, a crew of 500 men would be likely.

The excavation provided clues to the possible identities of some of the men by where they were found and what they were found with. We found a cabin for the carpenters, and another for the surgeon, with defined areas for the purser, the cooks and the navigator/pilot. We found specific storage areas for food, lanterns,  galley fuel, rigging, spare gun furniture, shot, longbows, arrows and staff weapons.

Chests with contents also gave clues as to who their owners may have been. Possessions, clothing and shoes found with human remains have been used to suggest possible roles.

Physical examination of the human remains displaying injuries caused by specific activities (repetitive stress) has also enabled us to suggest jobs for certain individuals. In certain cases we have been able to forensically reconstruct their faces, and by interpreting the objects they carried we present their stories.

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From the Anthony Roll


  • Soldiers – 185
  • Mariners – 200
  • Gunners – 30

415 in total

How many crew?

We have a number of sources of information about the crew of the Mary Rose.

A list of ships from 1545 names Sir George Carew as captain, and a complement of 500 men.

The Anthony Roll, a list of ships and their armaments completed in 1546 lists the Mary Rose with 415 men: 185 soldiers, 200 mariners and 30 gunners.

Eyewitness or contemporary accounts including the Imperial Ambassador to Charles V and the Windsor Herald, both of whom claim 500 men were on board the Mary Rose.

Later accounts including a French account of 1569 which cites 600, and an account of the life of Sir Peter Carew, brother of the captain of the Mary Rose, stating 700.

Analysis of the human remains recovered during the excavation provides a minimum of 179 and a likely number of around 300. With just under half a ship surviving, the contemporary accounts of 500 seem sensible.

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Our award-winning Learning Department provide expert-led sessions designed to enrich teaching and learning in both history and STEM subjects.

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