The ledger, found after an investigation by the Financial Times, recorded the personal details of all passenger arrivals at British ports from the late-19th century until 1960 include more than 85,000 from countries such as Jamaica and Trinidad.
They include those who landed on British shores after embarking on the original journey from the Caribbean on the ship that gave its name to the Windrush Generation of immigrants who began arriving in 1948.
The material, compiled by the Board of Trade, could provide vital evidence for many claiming UK citizenship.
The Home Office destroyed its archive of landing slips in 2010, in a step it has said was intended to enhance data protection.
The department has since rejected applications for UK citizenship on the grounds there is no evidence to support claims of when they arrived. The revelation this week by The Guardian of the archive’s destruction sparked a parliamentary row over who was to blame.
Labour was in power when the decision to destroy the slips was taken in 2009, while the destruction went ahead during the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government, when Theresa May was home secretary.
Up to 50,000 British residents of Caribbean origin are facing problems securing citizenship rights, access to the National Health Service and even access to the country because of Home Office demands that they prove their right to UK residence using documents many have never possessed.
The National Archives records, which also list the number of children in the travelling parties, are different from those destroyed, according to the Home Office. It said that incoming passenger lists did not provide evidence of longtime residency in the UK.
The National Archives records do not cover those who arrived by air. Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said he hoped the Home Office would accept the National Archives documents as “conclusive proof” for people who arrived before 1960.
- Countries: United_Kingdom