Navy records

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gra­tu­ities, to have ‘run’ (de­serted) re­moved from their ser­vice record (when in fact they may have just missed join­ing their ship), and ap­pli­ca­tions for the ad­mis­sion of chil­dren into Green­wich Hos­pi­tal School. Many of the ap­pli­ca­tions for ad­mis­sion to the school re­late to or­phaned chil­dren, so the se­ries con­tains de­tails of ser­vice for of­fi­cers and rat­ings who would have been de­ceased at the time their record was ap­plied for.

Fur­ther­more, be­cause th­ese are ap­pli­ca­tions for copies of a ser­vice record re­ceived af­ter 1802 by the Navy Pay Of­fice, the record it­self may de­tail ser­vice long be­fore the start of this se­ries in 1802. There are also sev­eral en­tries for some men as they would have made ap­pli­ca­tions for dif­fer­ent things at var­i­ous times dur­ing their ser­vice. If a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion was made by a man dur­ing his ser­vice and he went on to serve from then, the cer­tifi­cate will only list part of his ser­vice up to the point of ap­pli­ca­tion.

The ap­pli­ca­tions are par­tic­u­larly use­ful for rat­ings for the pe­riod up to 1853, as on 14 June 1853 the Ad­mi­ralty in­tro­duced con­tin­u­ous ser­vice en­gage­ments, which ended the ca­sual em­ploy­ment of rat­ings on a voy­age-by-voy­age ba­sis and in­stead in­tro­duced a seven-year con­tract for those who were al­ready serv­ing and 10 years for those who joined af­ter that date. This ne­ces­si­tated the keep­ing of records for rat­ings and the se­ries for ‘con­tin­u­ous ser­vice’ (CS) was cre­ated in ADM 139.

Af­ter 1853, many of the records in ADM 29 merely state ‘see CS record’ and th­ese can be viewed in record se­ries ADM 139 and later ADM 188 for rat­ings via www.na­tion­alarchives.gov. uk/records/royal-navalsea­men.htm.

The next eight ledgers in the se­ries are in­dexes to the pre­vi­ous 96 and have not been digitised as th­ese records are now all name­search­able on An­ces­try.

In short, if you do not find your an­ces­tor in this se­ries it is prob­a­bly be­cause nei­ther he, his widow nor any or­phaned child ever ap­plied for a copy of his ser­vice record in sup­port of any ap­pli­ca­tion.

The sec­ond part of the

se­ries con­tains a to­tal of 27 files that are com­pletely un­re­lated to the first part of this se­ries and do con­tain ser­vice records of War­rant Of­fi­cers, as­sis­tant en­gi­neers, sig­nal boatswains, boatswains, en­gi­neers, car­pen­ters and en­gi­neer boys.

Th­ese are not com­plete and some ledgers cover only a short amount of time – ie the En­gi­neer Of­fi­cers ledger cov­ers 1871-1873. There­fore, if you do not find a ser­vice record in a se­ries such as ADM 196 where you would ex­pect it to be, it may well be among the mis­cel­la­neous reg­is­ters in ADM 29.

If you have not been able to find your an­ces­tor at all in ADM 29, there are fur­ther record se­ries that con­tain cer­tifi­cates of ser­vice. Most of th­ese will be orig­i­nal doc­u­ments held by TNA. ADM 6/121 con­tains cer­tifi­cates for boatswains, mid­ship­men, mas­ter’s mates, clerks, and school­mas­ters for 1803-1804, ADM 6/182 con­tains cer­tifi­cates for mas­ter’s mates and mid­ship­men for 1814.

ADM 11/88 con­tains cer­tifi­cates for masters, mates, sub-lieu­tenants and pursers from 1847 to 1854. ADM 107/71-75 all have cer­tifi­cates for mates and sub-lieu­tenants from 1802 to 1848.

In con­clu­sion, although the ADM 29 are not strictly records of ser­vice and do not cover ev­ery­one who served, they are an in­valu­able re­source that pre­date ser­vice records for rat­ings and there­fore an ab­so­lute must to en­able fur­ther re­search into your an­ces­tors’ naval ca­reer. Janet Dempsey is a Records Spe­cial­ist at The Na­tional Ar­chives con­cen­trat­ing on mar­itime and trans­port records

Sailors let their hair down in The Ship Tav­ern, Green­wich

Sailors ac­com­pany the ar­rival of Queen Vic­to­ria in Tre­port, France, 1844

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