How to look for records of... Royal Marines personnel: further areas of research

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

1. Why use this guide?

Use this guide if you have already looked at our short guides on Royal Marines other ranks and Royal Marines officers and are looking for other records which may supply more information.

Sources include:

  • birth, marriage and death registers
  • pension records
  • courts martial records

It will also explain how to find out which division a marine belonged to.

Read our guide on Royal Navy operations in the Second World War, specifically the section on combined operations for information on how to find Royal Marines’ unit war diaries.

2. How to find a Royal Marine’s division

You may need to find out what division a marine belonged to in order to locate service records and other records, as the majority of the records are arranged by division.

If you locate a marine’s division in Royal Marines service records (ADM 159) it should supply you with the division which will enable your search in other records series.

Other ways to find a marine’s division:

  • Consult the book The Records of the Royal Marines by Garth Thomas which provides guidance on how to find a division if you know his company number
  • Look in the campaign and medal rolls (ADM 171) at (£) if you know his medal entitlements
  • Check the Navy List if you know what ship he served on, or search by ship’s name and date in ADM 36-ADM 39, the ship’s musters, to establish the home port. Before 1947, marines who were to serve on board a ship were drawn from the same RM Division as the home port of the ship
  • Consult ADM 242/7-10 if your marine was a war casualty in the First World War or the book A Register of Royal Marine Deaths, 1939-1945 for the Second World War
  • Check the birth or marriage certificate of a marine or the census. If you have an address where he lived you may assume that he would have joined the ‘catchment area’ of the nearest division to that address

3. Officers’ records (1673-1960)

Browse within the Admiralty registers, returns and certificates in ADM 6 to find:

  • results of an 1822 survey of Royal Marine officers in ADM 6/73-83 and ADM 6/409. For each officer it contains biographical information and pay details
  • results of an1831 Royal Marine officer survey in ADM 6/84-85
  • leave books for Royal Marine officers in ADM 6/200-206, and ADM 6/414. Officers on half pay are listed in ADM 6/410-414
  • brief statements about oficer’s appointments in ADM 6/405 (1703-1713) and ADM 6/406 (1755-1814)
  • references to Royal Marine surgeons in ADM 6/406 (1755-1814). Other information may be found in records held by the Royal College to which they belonged and in the alumni lists drawn up by their university

4. Officers’ commissions and appointments (c.1679-c.1855)

Browse SP 44/164-196, a complete run of royal warrants for commissions for 1664-1782.

From 1782, use the index in HO 51/105 to locate records in HO 51.

5. Births, marriages and deaths (1740-1945)

Read A Register of Royal Marine Deaths, 1939-1945, which gives rolls of all ranks, lists of casualties by ship and unit, and burial details for Second World War casualties.

Locate some First World War marine casualties in ADM 242/7-10, which are arranged by first letter of surname.

Details supplied include:

  • name
  • rank
  • service number
  • ship’s name
  • date and place of birth
  • cause of death
  • where buried (including plot number)
  • next-of-kin

Browse Hospital admission and discharge registers for 2nd General Hospital (1918) in MH 106/986-997.

Browse and download registers of those killed or wounded on board ship (1900-1939) in ADM 104/109-142 on our website.

They include details such as:

  • name and rank
  • next-of-kin
  • records of the births, marriages and deaths of marines’ wives and children
  • some information on their posting from the division to a ship, or station, under the heading ‘Disposal’

Consult records of births and marriages (1869-1921) which are arranged by division:

Division Date range Catalogue references
 Chatham Division  1830-1913  ADM 183/114-120
 Plymouth Division  1862-1920  ADM 184/43-54
 Portsmouth Division (marriages only)  1869-1881  ADM 185/69
 Woolwich Division  1822-1869  ADM 81/23-25
 Royal Marines Artillery  1810-1853  ADM 193/9
 Royal Marines Artillery  1866-1921  ADM 6/437

Consult also:

  • ADM 96/524 for Royal Marine wills and administrations (1740-1764)
  • PMG 50 for registers of probates affecting the payment of pensions (1836-1915)

6. Pension records (1712-1961)

Browse and consult pension records administered by The Royal Hospital at Greenwich listed in the table below:

Pension records Date range Catalogue references
 Registers of pensions paid to officers 1871-1961  ADM 165
 Pensions paid to widows and children 1882-1933  ADM 165
 Alphabetical registers of officers’ pensions 1862-1908  ADM 201/22-23
 Records of officers’ retired pay 1871-1932  ADM 22/475-487
 Pensions paid to widows of officers 1712-1831  ADM 96/523
 Pensions paid to widows of officers 1836-1870  PMG 16
 Pensions paid to widows (and relatives) of officers 1921-1926  PMG 20
 Pensions paid to widows (and relatives) of officers 1921-1926  PMG 72
 Pensions paid to widows of officers 1880-1885  ADM 23/124
 Pensions paid to widows of officers 1899-1932  ADM 23/161
 Payments to children of officers 1837-1921  PMG 18

7. Medals (1849-1894)

Consult ADM 201/21 for details of good conduct medals and gratuities.

8. Prisoners of war (1939-1945)

Consult ADM 201/111 for details of Royal Marines known to have been held in German camps.

9. Courts martial (1803-1978)

Browse surviving registers of marines’ courts martial records in:

Records for 18th- and 19th-century courts martial are in ADM 1 (indexed by ADM 12 from 1793). Read our guide on Subject and name indexes to Naval correspondence: ADM 12 for guidance on how to use these records.

10. Other sources

Browse ADM 96 (1688-1837) which lists men by company. It contains no personal information but may give details such as ship’s name.

If the ship’s name is supplied, search by name of ship and date in ADM 36-39 for ship’s musters. It may supply the names of previous ships that the marine served on.

11. Further reading

Use the recommended book list in our library catalogue. The books are all available in The National Archives’ reference library, or you may be able to find them in a local library.

Guide reference: Military Records Information 48