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Royal Marines - Commission and Appointments Registers, Officers (Military)

Nature of Source

Records from Royal Marine commissions which, unlike the Army, were free appointments and not sold. Therefore officer commissions were not the preserve of the wealthy and well connected. Some Marine officers later advanced their career by buying commissions in the Army.

Marine Officers Lists provide details of an officer's career from 1757 to 1886 and are indexed from 1770. The Navy Lists (from 1797), Army Lists (from 1740) and Hart's Army Lists (from 1840) also include Marine Officers. Other sources of information on an officer include Pay Office records, Half-Pay List, the commissioned officer Navy surveys of 1822 and 1831, addresses of Marine officers on half-pay, indexed letters and reports concerning officer's affairs (see below for TNA series references).

No original officer service records exist prior to 1793. The records are arranged by date order with no name index and only contain minimum information. Records of commissioned officers after 1793 are held in the Service Registers held in TNA series ADM 196.

The Royal Marines (officially known as The Corps of Royal Marines) were established in 1755 as part of the Royal Navy but continued to use army ranks and uniforms. Their origins date back to 1664 to the Second Anglo-Dutch War. They were composed of divisions with depots at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham and from 1805 to 1869 at Woolwich. In 1923 the Royal Marine Artillery (formed 1859) and the Royal Marine Light Infantry (formed 1855) merged to form the Royal Marine Corps.

Service records for all ranks who served after 1920 remain with the Ministry of Defence with each military service maintaining its own record office. The Veterans UK web site provides contact details of where to apply for service records for each of the services.

Where Found

The National Archives (ADM 6/405, Register of Marine officers' commissions 1703-1713; ADM 6/406, Register of Marine officers' commissions 1755-1814; ADM 96/1-2, Some lists of Marine Officers' services 1690-1740; ADM 118/230-336, Royal Marine Officers; ADM 192, Lists of Officers 1760-1886; ADM 201/8, Register of Commissions 1849-1858; ADM 196/58-65, Officer Service Records 1793-1915; ADM 196/66, Royal Marine Artillery 1798-1855; ADM 313/110, Index to ADM 196/58-67, 83, 97-105; ADM 83, Officer Service Records; ADM 97-114, Officer Service Records; ADM 96, Pay Office Records; ADM 6/410-413, Half-Pay List; ADM 6/73-83, Commissioned officer Navy survey 1822; ADM 6/84-85, Commissioned officer Navy survey 1831; PMG 73/2, Marine officers on unattached, retired full and reserved half pay; ADM 63/27-30, Indexed letters and reports concerning officer's affairs)
Royal Marines Museum (Marine Officer Lists, Army Lists, Navy lists, diaries, letters, Marine journals such as 'The Globe and the Laurel' which contains officer and other rank obituaries  and Marine histories. A card index to these obituaries is available)

Period Covered

1703 - 1925

Genealogical Value

Date of commission or appointment.

Further References

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006


Blank, Dr. Stuart. Researching British Military History on the Internet: Alwyn Enterprises, 2007


Brooks, Richard & Little, Matthew. Tracing Your Royal Marine Ancestors: Pen and Sword Books, 2008


Buckland, Christopher. (ed). Waterloo Medal Roll: Naval & Military Press, 2001 (Complete list of recipients of the Waterloo Medal, issued to all who took part in the battle)


Cock, Randolph & Rodger N.A.M. A Guide to the Naval Records in The National Archives of the UK: Institute of Historical Research, 2006


Divall, Ken. My Ancestor was a Royal Marine: Society of Genealogists, 2008


Fenton, Roy & Briody, Nuala & Macdonald, Mike. Maritime Information : A Guide to Libraries and Sources of Information in the United Kingdom: Maritime Information Association, 2004


Fowler, Simon. A Guide to Military History on the Internet: Pen & Sword, 2007


Fowler, Simon. Tracing Your First World War Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword, 2013


Garth, Thomas. Records of the Royal Marines: Public Record Office, 1994


Pappalardo, Bruno. Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: PRO, 2003


Rodger, N.A.M. Naval Records for Genealogists: PRO, 1998


Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: TNA, 2007


Storey, Neil. Military Photographs and How to Date Them: Countryside Books, 2009


Tracing Your Family History. Royal Navy: Imperial War Museum, 2006


Usher, George. Dictionary of British Military History: A&C Black Publishers, 2006


TNA Research Guide: Royal Marines personnel: further areas of research (Including ‘How to find a Royal Marine's division’)

Websites (TNA Guide: Looking for records of an officer in the Royal Marines) (TNA Guide to the Royal Marines Registers of Service held in series ADM 159) (TNA Guide to the Wills of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel 1786-1882 held in series ADM 48) (TNA Guide: Looking for a subject, Military history) (Gloucestershire Genealogy: Royal Marines in the 19th Century) (Gloucestershire Genealogy: Royal Marine Service Record) (Royal Navy: 353 Years of The Royal Marines) (Royal Marines Museum: collections depicts the history of the Royal Marines from 1664 to the present day through a unique collection of artefacts, pictures and documents, personal accounts, letters and diaries, training manuals, maps, posters and sound recordings) (Royal Marines Museum: Research and collections: Genealogy. Guides and information on researching marine ancestors) (GENUKI Military guide with useful links) (National Maritime Museum research guides) (National Maritime Museum Research guide B3: The Royal Navy: Sources for enquiries) (UK Military Family History Online: Links to web sites with online data and information to aid in military family history research) (Military Archive Research, by Dr Stuart C Blank) (Royal Marines Service Records, by Dr Stuart Blank) (British Military Records Part 2: The Royal Navy, by Fawne Stratford-Devai) (British Library Guide: Service lists for the Army, Navy and Air Force) (Naval enthusiast site that contains a number of indexes including extracts from the Navy Lists, ship's photos & other information) (Information on battles, actions, medals, convoys, warships, merchant ships and ship losses, including photos of lost soldiers) (Online exhibition to commemorate Battle of Trafalgar in 1805)

Online Databases (Forces War Records: Military records of over two million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments including Rolls of Honour, Crimean and Boer War Databases, Medal Rolls and Casualties Lists. The site also has a facility to access information on specific units or bases including regiments, ships, airfield) (The Jack Clegg Memorial Database of WW1 Campaign Medals to the Royal Marines 1914-1920; Royal Marine Medal Roll 1914-1920)

CD Roms

Surrey History Trust (Surrey Recruitment Register, 1908-1933. details of about 85,000 men who signed up for service in Surrey between 1908 and 1933, including volunteers and conscripts in World War I)
Manchester and Lancashire FHS (Oldham Chronicle Index of Service Personnel 1914-1919: Details of service personnel mentioned in the Saturday editions of the Oldham Chronicle1914 to the end of December 1919)