WJL Cole (kind permission of M Richardson)

What are these records?

These are the service registers of around 110,000 men who joined the Royal Marines between 1842 and 1925. These records, in series ADM 159, were originally created in 1884 but include records created retrospectively for anyone who had joined earlier and was still serving in 1884.

To view records of commissioned officers of the Royal Marines, see Royal Naval officers' service records.

What information do the records contain?

The information in these records typically includes:

  • date and place of birth
  • occupation
  • religion
  • date and place of enlistment
  • physical description
  • names of ships and shore stations served on
  • details of conduct or promotion
  • medal entitlement

How do I search the records?

You can search the records in our catalogue, Discovery, by filling in the form below.

You do not have to fill out every field to search these records.

If you don't find a record, try leaving the date field blank.

Date (yyyy):

What do the records look like?

Service record of William John Clarke

Click on the image on the right to see an example of a service record (ADM 159/114).

Service record of Arthur William George Ward

Click on the second image on the right to see another example of a service record (ADM 159/213). The two examples show that the service records are printed on different kinds of forms but essentially carry the same information.

Why can't I find what I'm looking for?

If you cannot find a record for a Marine here, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • the person may have been an officer (officers' records are held alongside Royal Naval officers' records in series ADM 196)
  • the Marine you are searching for had left the service by 1884
  • most enlistments after 1925 are still held by the Ministry of Defence

You can also find records for Marines up to 1925 in series ADM 157, by searching in our catalogue: search pieces ADM 157/1-1251 by the Marine's name.

Related guidance

Royal Marines other ranks