An old naval term to describe a Spanish treasure galleon or plate ship. It originated from the requirement of the Spanish government that every Spanish ship trading to her American colonies required a licence to do so, those owners to whom licences were granted having their name entered on a register. It was a fairly widespread belief in England that every ship returning to Spain from America must be a treasure ship. As these were always desirable ships to capture in time of war, they became widely known as register ships to distinguish them from Spanish ships trading in other parts of the world. See also flota.
Subjects: Maritime History.