Discover more about your military ancestor in this browse search of British Royal Navy & Royal Marines service and pension records.
In this search, you can look through images of the original service and pension records of the British Royal Navy & Royal Marines. These records are full of useful information about those individuals who qualified for or received pensions. You may be able to discover the following information about your ancestor in these records:
Age at pension
Service (in years and months)
Attestation year (year joined)
When appointed/granted pension
Year eligible for pension
Discharge from pension
Age at death
Number for navy/marines
Next of kin
Parish, county, and country
Use the previous and next arrows in the image viewer to navigate through the records. However, please note that blank pages have not been imaged, which is why it may appear that a right-hand image is missing when in fact it was intentionally left out.
The TNA series and pieces included in this collection are as follows:
ADM 6 / 223-320 – Registers of candidates for admission to Greenwich Hospital and registers of applications to Greenwich Hospital for admission, out-pensions or other relief, 1737-1859
ADM 22 / 254-443 – Pay books of naval out-pensions at Greenwich Hospital, 1814-1846
ADM 29 / 1-32, 34-131 – Admiralty: Royal Navy, Royal Marines, coastguard and related services: Officers’ and Ratings’ Service Records (Series II) 1802-1919
ADM 73 / 1-69 and 95-131 – Admiralty: Royal Greenwich Hospital: Pensioners and School Admission Papers, Out Pensions Pay Books and Miscellaneous Registers, 1704-1869, including general registers of pensioners and their families.
WO 4 / 887-891 – Greenwich Hospital pensions, 1846-1854
WO 22 / 208 – Mercantile Marine: Miscellaneous returns for England, Scotland, Wales and Jersey
WO 23 / 24 – Register of Greenwich Hospital pensions, 1868-1870
The records in this collection relate to armed forces pensioners from the Royal Navy (seamen) and the Royal Marines (marines). Her Majesty’s Naval Service, of which the Royal Navy and Royal Marines are a part, is the oldest branch of the armed forces in the United Kingdom, dating back to the early 1500s. As such, it is also referred to as the Senior Service.
Often at the end of their careers after being discharged, seamen and marines would be awarded pensions.
There are two types of pensions awarded by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines:
Out-pensions - Pensions for those veterans who were living independently
In-pensions - Pensions for veterans living in the Royal Hospital Greenwich, which was the Navy’s care home for its veterans.
Pensions were originally paid out of the Chatham Chest, which was a fund set up around 1590 for the sole purpose of paying pensions to disabled seamen. Contributions were deducted from members’ paychecks (sixpence per month) to finance the fund. However, in 1804, the Royal Hospital Greenwich took over responsibility for paying out pensions. Hence, ex-seamen and ex-marines in receipt of pensions were referred to as Greenwich pensioners. Regarding the hospital’s funding, a visitor’s guide from 1855 explains that "The Hospital is supported by its own property, with the exception of a grant from the Consolidated Fund in lieu of Merchant Seamen’s' Sixpenny Duty formerly paid to it. The income consists in the interest of funded capital; rents of estates in Northumberland and Durham; rent of property in Greenwich; a fourth of the commission on conveyance of freight in Her Majesty's ships; and receipts at the Painted Hall."
Those applying for a pension are referred to as candidates. Once assessed, some were admitted to Royal Hospital Greenwich as in-patients. The in-pensioners were required to live by militarized regulations and standards, including the wearing of uniforms. Those admitted to Greenwich were free to discharge themselves, however, if they wanted to be re-admitted, there was a required one-year waiting period. Families of in-pensioners were not allowed to live at the hospital.
The 1855 visitor’s guide details the requirements for admittance of in-pensioners: "The Pensioners must be Seamen or Royal Marines, who by their servitude at sea, in the Royal Navy, or wounds received, have established a claim to the benefits of the Institution. Merchant seamen who have been wounded in action with the ship of an enemy, or in a fight against a pirate or rebel, are also eligible for admission."
You can narrow your results by searching under a specific series/piece. Look at the descriptions for each series in the Series included in this browse section to best determine which series/piece to search by. Remember that you can select several series/pieces to search under at a time if you are unsure in which your ancestor is likely to be included.
If you are unsure of which series/piece to search by but have a general idea of when your ancestor would have applied for his pension, you can try searching by a specific year or range of years to narrow your results.