Explore the wills of personnel from the British Royal Navy and Royal Marines
These records are the original wills of warrant officers and ratings as well as Royal Marines other ranks. You can search and download the wills in series ADM 48 of around 20,000 men who joined the Royal Navy between 1786 and 1882.
Accident, disease and war were risks for seamen and many of them made wills to provide for their families in the event of death. As far back as 1698 the Admiralty had to deal with people impersonating deceased seamen or their executors, creditors or next of kin.
These forms were accepted as valid by the Admiralty and they were deposited in the Navy Office, with orders to issue cheques to the executors.
As a rule each man’s will begins with the printed words ‘In the Name of God, Amen’.
The wills usually provide the following information:
As well as being signed and dated by the testator, wills were usually signed by the master and captain of the ship that the seaman or warrant officer was serving on when the will was made.
These wills also hold details such as the name, address and occupation of the exec