For anyone wishing to trace a Royal Navy rating the following information

may be of interest.

Before 1853, unless you already know the name of a ship on which a rating

was serving, there is no simple way to trace the service of a RN rating.

Until 1853 ratings moved frequently between Royal and Merchant navy ships

and it is always worth checking merchant navy records also.

In 1853 a system of continuous service (CS) was introduced and from this

date forwards, service records for ratings can be the key to a valuable

source of flesh-on-the-bones information about a seaman ancestor, often

allowing a researcher to compile a highly accurate record of the life of a

man at sea.

The first series of CS records are held in class ADM139. These record the

engagements signed by ratings on first entry (or re-entry for those with

earlier service) from 1853 to 1873.

The second series of CS records are held in class ADM188. These record

ratings who enlisted from 1873 to 1891. The series is indexed.

There are no records held at Kew or open to any form of public inspection of

ratings who entered from 1892 onwards. For records of RN ratings who served

between 1892 and 1939, contact the Ministry of Defence, CS 2A, Room 17,

Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 1RF. For service after 1939 contact PP1

A1, HMS Centurion, Grange Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 9XA.

Once you have obtained names of ships on which a RN rating was serving,

research in the series of Musters and Ships' Logs will provide much

background information.

These records may only be seen at the Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue,

Kew. This is a brief overview of RN rating records. You may wish to view the

onliine leaflets at the PRO's website at to find out


Courtesy of Debbie Beavis &