How to look for records of... Royal Marines officers

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

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

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



This is a brief guide to help you with your research into Royal Marines officers. Royal Marines records are kept in different places depending on when the Marine served. This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists, and if it does where to find it.

1. What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the full name of the officers
  • the division he served in (Chatham, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Woolwich)
  • the date range of his service

2. What records can I see online?

Service records (1793-1925)

Search online by name and download service records for officers commissioned before 1925 and warrant officers (ADM 196). These records are available to download as digital microfilm rather than individual documents.

Royal Marine medal rolls (1914-1920)

Search the First World War campaign medal rolls (£) for the Royal Marines on findmypast.co.uk. This database provides a complete listing of all Royal Marines who served in the First World War and also has service details for a large number of men.

Recommendations for honours and awards (1935-1990)

Search by name and download (£) Recommendations for Honours and Awards (WO 373) from Discovery, our catalogue. These are mainly British Army awards but do include some for the Royal Marines.

Establishment Book of the Royal Marine Infirmary at Woolwich (1817-1820)

Find references to Royal Marine surgeons within ADM 104/3 which can be downloaded free of charge from our catalogue.

Selected births, marriages and deaths (1830-1920)

Search by name selected registers of marriages for marines who served in the Chatham Division (ADM 183/114-120) and Portsmouth Division (ADM 184/43-54) on findmypast.co.uk (£). These can include the birth details, and sometimes death details, of children of the marriages.

Wills (1786-1909)

Search by name for Royal Marines’ wills (ADM 48) from 1786 to 1882 on our website.

You can also browse the Registers of seamen’s wills (ADM 142) which may refer to Royal Marines on digital microfilm. For more information on what information you may find, read the catalogue description of these records.

Please be aware that these are very large files and only suitable for download on a fast and unlimited broadband connection.

3. What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

The Seniority List of Officers of the Royal Marines (1757 to 1886)

Trace officers in both ADM 118/230-336 (1757 to 1850, indexed from 1770), and in ADM 192/1-44 (1760 to 1886).

Registers, Returns and Certificates (1673-1960)

Search within 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 an 1831 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

Commissions and Appointments Registers (c1679-c1855)

Search SP 44/164-196, a complete run of Royal Warrants for Commissions, for 1664-1782. From 1782, search series HO 51.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

4. What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Obituaries

Search for obituary notices published in The Times and in the Royal Marines’ magazine, The Globe and Laurel. These can contain very comprehensive information. The Royal Marines Museum has a full run of the Globe and Laurel and is indexing all back editions.

Service records (1925 to date)

Look on the GOV.UK website to find out how to obtain service records from the Royal Navy for Royal Marine officers commissioned after 1925.

5. What other resources will help me find information?

Printed Army Lists (from 1740) and Navy Lists

Trace outlines of officers’ careers from the information given about Marines officers on full-pay and half-pay in the printed Army List from 1740 onwards.

Consult published Navy Lists, or the earlier Steele’s Navy List, to get an outline of an officer’s career from 1782 to date.

Books

Use our library catalogue to find a recommended book list.

The books are all available in The National Archives’ reference library. You may also be able to find them in a local library. You can buy from a wide range of history titles in our bookshop.

Websites

Browse the collection of research documents which are available to download from the Royal Marines Museum website.

Find an officer in the lists of commissions, promotions and resignation in the London Gazette on The Gazette website.

6. Did you know?

The Royal Marines were established in 1664 under Charles II. They were called ‘the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot’.

In 1755 a corps of 5,000 marines was established and grouped into 50 companies under 3 divisions: Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth. No original service records of officers appointed before 1793 have survived however you can often trace their career through other publications.

The Marines were designated ‘Royal’ by an order of King George III in 1802.

In 1855 the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) was formed, followed by the Royal Marine Artillery (RMA) in 1859.

The RMLI and RMA merged in 1923 to form a single Royal Marine Corps.