Service records (for ratings who enlisted 1853–1928)
From 1853 seamen enlisting in the Royal Navy were given a continuous service (CS) number. These were entered in Continuous Service Engagement Books, now held in series ADM 139. Then, from 1873, this system was modified with the introduction of the Registers of Seamen’s Services, located in series ADM 188.
Search across all ratings’ service records 1853-1928 and download copies (£) from our website. Details of the information these records contain are on the search page.
Certificates of service (1802–c.1894)
Certificates of service books (also called ‘Time Books’ or ‘Records of Service’) were compiled by the Navy Pay Office from ships’ pay books. They were used for the granting of pensions, gratuities or medals and served as proof of a seaman’s service on ships, with dates, and the period of time in pay.
Search for ratings’ certificates of service (ADM 29/1-96) by name on Ancestry (£) for certificates issued up until 1894 (includes warrant officers up until 1919).
Alternatively, you may wish to search by name within ADM 29 in our catalogue to view, free of charge, detailed descriptions of the records in ADM 29/1–73. You cannot view images of the records themselves in this way.
In the early 1800s pensions were more likely to be paid to warrant officers than ordinary seamen, but after 1834 pensions, and therefore certificates of service for ratings, become more common.
Certificates could be issued and recorded whilst a man was still serving, and where later certificates were issued, this is noted in the books. If a Continuous Service (CS) or Official Number (ON) is noted, there should also be a service record.
Allotment registers (1795–1812 and 1830–1852)
Search for allotment registers (ADM 27) by name or vessel at findmypast.co.uk (£). Descriptions from the same registers are available free of charge in our own online catalogue – search ADM 27 by name or vessel for these descriptions.
These records provide the following information:
- name of ship on which the seaman served
- first names of next of kin
- number of children
- place of residence
- date of allotment
- pay book number
Read Bruno Pappalardo’s blog on allotment registers for more information on these records.
Medal rolls (1793–1972)
Search by name for information about the award of campaign, long service and good conduct medals in the Royal Navy medal rolls (ADM 171) using Ancestry.co.uk (£). These rolls do not usually contain biographical information.
Digital microfilm copies of these records are also available to download and browse from our website free of charge.