How to look for Royal Marines’ service records 1842-1925

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We do not provide copies of online records – please download to view

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

What are these records?

These are the service registers of around 110,000 men who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1925. These records, in series ADM 159, were originally created in 1884 but include records created retrospectively for anyone who had joined earlier and was still serving in 1884.

To view records of commissioned officers of the Royal Marines, see Royal Naval officers’ service records.

What information do the records contain?

The information in these records typically includes:

  • date and place of birth
  • occupation
  • religion
  • date and place of enlistment
  • physical description
  • names of ships and shore stations served on
  • details of conduct or promotion
  • medal entitlement

How do I search the records?

You can search the records in our catalogue, Discovery, by filling in the form below.

You do not have to fill out every field to search these records.

If you don’t find a record, try leaving the date field blank.

Date of combat (yyyy):

Date of combat (yyyy)

What do the records look like?

A Royal Marine service record (ADM 159/114)

A Royal Marine service record (ADM 159/114)

 The two examples here show how, though service records were printed on different kinds of forms, they essentially carry the same information.
A Royal Marine service record (ADM 159/213)

A Royal Marine service record (ADM 159/213)

Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?

If you cannot find a record for a Marine here, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • the person may have been an officer (officers’ records are held alongside Royal Naval officers’ records in series ADM 196)
  • the Marine you are searching for had left the service by 1884
  • most enlistments after 1925 are still held by the Ministry of Defence

You can also find records for Marines up to 1925 in series ADM 157, by searching in our catalogue: search pieces ADM 157/1-1251 by the Marine’s name.