This is for anyone new to research, who may not know where to look.

The National Archives (TNA) has lots of records connected with the Royal Navy.

Our site sponsors Forces War Records hold over 5 million records of military ancestors going back to 1350 so their site is a good place to start.

There are research guides (click on links prefixed Royal Navy)

Some records are indexed on TNA's catalogue

These include:
Courts martial (ADM1) (ADM106)
Registers for admission to Greenwich Hospital (ADM6)
Some RN marriage certificates (ADM13)
Ships' logs, allotment registers [sending wages to next of kin] (ADM27)
Entry book certificates of service (ADM29)
Applications for money owed (ADM45)
In-letters [correspondence] (ADM106)
Early CS numbers (ADM139)
WW1 RNAS Officers' Services (ADM273)
RNVR Officers' service records (ADM337)

More ADM records are being added to this over time.

Searching is simple:
In the word or phrase field, enter a surname (if looking for a person) or the name of a ship (e.g. if looking for a ship's log) - if looking for ships, don't enter the prefix HMS.
If you can tie down a period, enter this in the year range
In the department or series code, just enter ADM

This is a catalogue - it doesn't give you the record online there and then - BUT - you can request it online and be sent either a hard copy, or a copy electronically.

TNA has a section known as documentsonline
Where you can search for, and pay to download copies of original records.

These include
Wills of RN seamen (1786-1882) - read here for explanation

Records of the RN Division (1914-1918) - read here for explanation

RN Registers of Seamen's Services (1853-1923) - read here for explanation

RN Officers' Service Records (1840-20th C) - read here for explanation

WW1 WRNS service records (1917-1919) -read here for explanation

I will update this list as additions are made to available records.

Other sources of information include:

The Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth holds some records, but not online

The National Maritime Museum (NMM) houses a collection of historic photos; copies can be purchased, they are not cheap. The catalogue describing photos is available and worth consulting to get an idea of what is available.

Paul Benyon's free access site is worth checking for the wealth of information it contains.

NB - For recent service records since 1923, you will have to contact the Royal Navy - see this link to theVeterans' Agency site

Naval History is a free access site worth checking for log books, service histories of ships, casualties, all sorts. is another free access site, specialising in the operations of German U-Boats (submarines) in both world wars. Despite this, it has excellent details on Allied shipping including Navy escorts and the convoys themselves.

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