Joined: 18 Oct 2009
| Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:48 pm Post subject: Royal Marines
I've researched the military career of one of my ancestors, who was a Marine for 15 years. I thought I'd share some of my experiences with anyone out there who is interested. The nest steps would need to be taken by yourself, or by a researcher, visiting the archives at Kew.
The first port of call should be the relevant Marine Division description book. If you know the name of the ship that your Marine served on, this should indicate the Division (or port) to which he belonged.
The Description book (ADM158) will advise when the Marine joined, when the Marine was discharged, and also the place where the Marine enlisted. More importantly, it should give the number (or numbers) of the administrative companies to which the Marine was attached whilst on shore.
Once you have a timeline, a Division and company number/s, the next step is a leapfrogging exercise, jumping between the shore based marine records (in ADM 96) and the records relating to marines at sea.
The big obstacle with ADM96 records is that they have not been properly documented by The National Archives. One initiative that TNA has come up with is to create the "Your Archives" wiki, which allows researchers to write articles, and to link specific archive records to articles. Here is a link to said "Your Archives" article.
My advice would be to look at the relevant ADM96 records for your Marine for the year in which they were discharged. These records (about the size of an A2 sheet) record the ship from whence a Marine had come, and also the ship to which a Marine was subsequently posted.
In terms of determining when a Marine boarded a ship, there are two options. The first (and quickest) is to consult the Embarkation Book. The second option is to order a number of ships muster books (ADM 35, 36 37 series), to determine when the Marine boarded.
On the proviso that you know which ADM96 records to order, and you have access to the Embarkation Book, it should be possible to quickly triangulate embarkation and disembarkation dates, this building a chronological career history of the Marine being researched.
The big issue is that ADM 96 records have not been properly documented, and when they were archived, they were boxed in a rather ad-hoc manner. (Some boxes relate to a given Division for a quarter, whereas other boxes cover a sequential range of administrative company numbers.
I cannot recommend highly enough the genealogy books on Marines by Matthew Little, and Pappalardo's Naval Ancestors books which explains the Admiralty's record keeping activites.