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Royal Navy/Royal Marines - Casualty Records, Ratings & Officers (Military)

Nature of Source

Records relating to those killed or wounded in action.

For the 18th century and much of the 19th century, ratings only signed up for a commission on a particular ship and was only employed for the duration of the commission. Therefore, naval rating's records are rarely indexed by name with no individual service records kept on a sailor. It is therefore imperative that the name of the ship is known to conduct research on a rating. After Continuous Service was introduced in 1853, centralised records were kept on individual ratings which established a professional structure to the Navy.

The following of sources could be used to establish the name of the ship served: Seamen's Wills in series ADM 48; wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which was used as the probate court for sailors who died abroad or at sea (see 'Royal Navy/Royal Marines - Casualty Records' for more details); Certificates of Service (see 'Royal Navy/Royal Marines - Certificates of Service - Ratings & Officers'); The Trafalgar Ancestors project aims to list all those who served in the Battle of Trafalgar and will provide amongst other things the name of the ship served on; parish marriage registers might record the name of the ship served on; Pension records especially ADM 73/1-35, Greenwich Hospital Pensioners' Admission Papers which are indexed by surname (see Royal Navy/Royal Marines - Pensions to the Wounded, Retired, Widows & Orphans - Ratings & Officers.

Back pay registers of those killed in service often contain a copy of the man's will. Distinguished deaths appear in registers from mid 19th century. Sailors who died at sea or abroad had their wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. These wills are kept in series PROB 11 at The National Archives and are available online at TNA Online Collections. Seamen's Wills 1786-1882 are kept in series ADM 48.

Also consult The War Graves Photographic Project at which aims to provide images of the graves or memorial listings of every service casualty since the outbreak of the First World War.

Royal Navy ex-servicemen suffering mental illness were treated at Hoxton House in London until 1818 and thereafter at the Royal Hospital Haslar near Gosport, Hampshire until 1854. The records can be found at The National Archives in series ADM 102/415-20 for Hoxton House and in series ADM 102/356-73 for Haslar.

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 (General Register Office [GRO] registers; ADM 242, WWI Naval casualties and War Grave Rolls; ADM 104, Registers of Deaths and Injuries)
The National Archives (ADM 101, Medical Journals, 1785-1963. The journals contain an account of the treatment of medical and surgical cases, and usually a copy of the daily sick list, statistical abstracts of the incidence of diseases, and general comments on the health and activities of the ship's company. The name index covering series ADM 101 is available at the TNA Discovery catalogue. First click on ‘Advanced search’ and then type in the name being searched. Then under ‘Search within’ select ‘Enter a reference’ and type 'ADM 101'.
The National Archives (MT 32, Surgeon Superintendents' Journals of Convict Ships, 1858-1867)
The National Archives (ADM 44, Applications from the next of kin of deceased ratings and Royal Marine other ranks for their unpaid wages. Some applications are supported by wills, birth or marriage certificates, 1800-1860 with name indexes in ADM 141)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
General Register Office for England and Wales (Deaths of those serving in WWI and WWII)

Period Covered

1790 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Name, date of death, cause of death, place of burial, family relationships, next of kin, rank, number, ship's name, date and place of birth.

Further References

Addis, C.P. The Men Who Fought with Nelson in HMS Victory at Trafalgar: Nelson Society, 1988


Adkins, Roy & Lesley. Jack Tar: The Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Seamen in Nelson's Navy: Abacus, 2009


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


Burt, R.A. British Battleships of World War One: Seaforth, 2012


Clarke, John D. Men of HMS Victory at Trafalgar Including the Muster Roll, Casualties, Rewards and Medals: Naval & Military Press 2002


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


Coleman, E.C. Rank and Rate: Insignia of Royal Naval Ratings, WRNS, Royal Marines, QARNNS and Auxiliaries: Crowood Press, 2012


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 Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2011


Gregson, Keith. Nelson's Navy 1793-1815: Federation of Family History Societies, 2006


Hurst, Norman (comp). Naval Chronicle, 1799-1818: Index to Births, Marriages and Deaths: N. Hurst, 1989


Ingham, Mary. Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books 2012


Lavery, Brian. Life in Nelson's Navy: The History Press, 2011


Lavery, Brian. Empire of the Seas: The Remarkable Story of How the Navy Forged the Modern World: Conway, 2012


Lavery, Brian. Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation, 1793-1815: Conway, 2013


Mackenzie, Robert Holden. The Trafalgar Roll: The Ships and the Officers: Chatham, 2004


Morris, Stuart. Dorset, The Royal Navy: Dovecote Press, 2011  

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


Pappalardo, Bruno. Royal Navy Lieutenants' Passing Certificates 1691-1902: List & Index Society, 2001 (Available in The National Archives reading rooms)


Pope, Dudley.Life In Nelson's Navy: Chatham Publishing, 1997


Prysor, Glyn. Citizen Sailors: The Royal Navy In the Second World War: Penguin Books, 2012


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


Royal Marines Historical Society. A Register of Royal Marine Deaths, 1914-19: 1991


Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: The National Archives, 2007


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


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


Tracy, Nicholas. The Naval Chronicle: The Contemporary Record of the Royal Navy at War, vols 1-5: various publishers


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


Waller, Ian. My Ancestor was in the Royal Navy: Society of Genealogists, 2014


Watts, Christopher T. and Watts, Michael J. Tracing Births, Deaths and Marriages at Sea: Society of Genealogists, 2004


Willis, Sam. In the Hour of Victory: The Royal Navy At War in the Age Nelson: Atlantic Books, 2014


Wills, Simon. Tracing Your Seafaring Ancestors: A Guide to Maritime Photographs for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books, 2016

Wilson, Alastair. A Biographical Dictionary of The Twentieth Century Royal Navy: Volume 1 Admirals of the Fleet and Admirals: Seaforth, 2013


TNA Research Guides

Websites (TNA Guide: Looking for a subject, Military history) (TNA Guide: Looking for a person, Navy)
(Roll of Honour: World War 1 British Warship Losses. This list covers the warships lost between 4th August 1914 to 11th November 1918, issued as a House of Commons paper, as published in 1919 by His Majesty's Stationery Office) (British Maritime History: Background to researching mariners: Mercantile & Naval) (Officer Ranks in the Royal Navy: The Naval Hierarchy Explained) (UK Military Family History Online: Links to web sites with online data and information to aid in military family history research) (GENUKI Military guide with useful links) (National Maritime Museum: The Royal Navy: Guides to tracing people, ship records, administrative records, naval gunnery etc) (Imperial War Museum, Your History, Family History: Royal Navy: Information sheets include Tracing Royal Navy Ancestry, Naval Service Records and List of Abbreviations) (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 the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805) (Navy Records Society: Publisher of original documents on the Royal Navy) (Naval Dockyards Society)

Online Databases (Royal Naval Division Records 1914-1919: The Jack Clegg Memorial Database of Royal Naval Division Casualties of The Great War)
(Over 1.3 million records from daily and weekly First World War casualty lists from British and Commonwealth forces covering soldiers, sailors and airmen from all ranks. The collection covers both those who died of their wounds and those who recovered and returned to the front) (Naval Casualties 1914-1919) (Maritime BMDs including information from TNA series ADM 242, WWI Naval casualties. These records contain a card index of naval officers killed 1914-1920; ADM 80/4-12, Dead seamen's wages)
TNA Online Collections (Wills of Royal Naval Seamen: A collection of around 20,000 wills made by seamen of the Royal Navy 1786-1882. TNA Online Collections is produced by The National Archives and contains online access to indexes, transcriptions and digital images of some of the TNA's most important holdings. Searches are free but a fee is levied for each downloaded item. However downloads are free if used at TNA or the Society of Genealogists)
(Web: UK, Wills of Royal Naval Seamen Index, 1786-1882. Ancestry search linked to The National Archives website) (Royal Navy Medical Officers' journals: Digitised journals and diaries compiled by Royal Navy surgeons and assistant surgeons who served on HM ships, hospitals, naval brigades, shore parties and on emigrant and convict ships in the period 1793 to 1880)
(Navy Records Online is an online archive of miscellaneous British naval records including charts, portraits, cartoons, logs, letters, diaries, battle plans, sketchbooks, photograph albums and videos) (Armed forces deaths 1796-1994 and GRO Naval war deaths WWI and WWII)
(WW1 Ships Lost At Sea, 1914-1919: Details of British Royal Navy ships that were destroyed during WWI including details of officers killed or wounded on each ship) (Casualty Lists of the Royal And Dominion Navies 1889-2009, researched and compiled by Don Kindell)

CD Roms

S & N Genealogy Supplies (First World War-Army Officer and Navy War Deaths)