What’s available online and in the archives
So how can we use these new naval records for research? Typically, they are a list of ships that the man has served on with the date he joined the ship and the date he left.
It often gives his age when he joined the ship as well as a reference to his character. Note that it will not give details of his family. However, there are ways of taking this research further now that you know the ships he served on.
Applications and certificates of service
The record series ADM 73, which is available at The National Archives, contains the applications and the certificates of service for In Pensioners at Greenwich Hospital. While the certificates will duplicate the information in ADM 29, the letters of application can add extra detail. ADM 73 also contains the applications for Greenwich Hospital School, which can give a great deal of additional family information.
Once you know the name of the ship, it is then possible to search for the ships’ logs, musters and pay books.
These records will put flesh on the bare bones of the list of ships in ADM 29. These are original documents and will require a visit to The National Archives in Kew.
It is the pay books that the original ADM 29 registers were compiled from and they actually cover a much greater time period than that series.
The books in ADM 32 cover dates 1692-1856, in ADM 33 they cover the dates 16691778, in ADM 34 they cover dates 1766-1785 and in ADM 35 it’s 1777-1832.
The Ships Musters can give much additional information about the man and cover dates from 1688-1878 in series ADM 36 to ADM 39.
To find out where your ancestor served and more about daily life on board ship you can consult the logs, of which there are several types. ADM 51 contains the captains’ logs and covers the period 1669-1852. They contain details of routine duties and details the captain was obliged to record and much he thought was relevant.
There are also masters’ logs in ADM 52, which cover the years 1772-1840 and these record ships’ movements and weather conditions and were mainly used for navigation purposes. There are supplementary masters’ logs in ADM 54.
Then there are ships’ logs in ADM 53 which eventually supercedes the previous logs and these cover 1799-1965.
Currently being catalogued by ships’ name are the allotment registers in ADM 27. These registers were used to record allotted pay home and give details of who the pay was going to – usually a wife or mother but not exclusively so – but it will give you the recipient’s full name and address and how many dependant boys and girls there are in the family. It will also give you the amount of money that was being sent home and where the recipient went to collect it.
An illustration of a Greenwich Pensioner c1800