How to look for records of... Royal Navy warrant officers
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching Royal Naval records for a warrant officer. These records are comprehensive and varied, though sometimes complicated. While many records are available at The National Archives, some service records are currently held by the Ministry of Defence.
This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists and, if it does, where to find it or more information about it. Please note, before becoming a warrant officer they will have served as a rating so check ratings’ records too.
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
A warrant officer was someone who became an officer by being awarded a warrant – these are junior to commissioned officers and senior to ratings.
Warrant officers include: master, purser, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, surgeon, armourer, chaplain, cook, master at arms, sailmaker and schoolmaster.
Service records after 1931 are held by the Ministry of Defence. They are not open to the general public, though next of kin may request access to them.
Records for warrant officers in the Royal Navy before 1830 are incomplete and patchy as there were no central service registers for personnel.