Military Wiki
Admiralty Record Office
United Kingdom
Agency overview
Formed 1809
Dissolved 1964
Jurisdiction Government of the United Kingdom
Headquarters Admiralty Building
Parent department Department of the Permanent Secretary

The Admiralty Record Office [1] was a former office of the British Admiralty responsible for the collection, filing and management of all official Admiralty documents from 1809 until 1964.


The record office was established in the Admiralty in 1809 to only manage the collections and to devise a central system of digesting and indexing.[2] In 1932 the Admiralty Records Office was merged within Admiralty Secretariat of the Department of the Permanent Secretary.[3] it existed until 1964 when the Admiralty Department was abolished and merged within a new Ministry of Defence.


Before world war one the Admiralty was usually divided up for administrative reasons into branches, departments, divisions and sections, they were all individually responsible for the managing and maintaining their own records, each function were supposed to send all their finished documents to the record office for filing and preservation, this however did not happen due to constant organisational changes that were common place at the Admiralty. Those branches that were outside the remit of the Admiralty Secretariat did not always adhere correctly to internal procedures resulting in a loss of crucial documents.

Example of the types of records kept

Now held at The National Archives included:[4]

  • ADM 1 (Admiralty correspondence 1660-1976)
  • ADM 2 (Admiralty out-letters)
  • ADM 3 (Admiralty minutes 1657-1881)
  • ADM 4 (Admiralty: Letters Patent, Lord High Admiral and Lords of Admiralty Appointments 1707-1964)
  • ADM 5 (Admiralty and predecessors: Letters Patent, Navy Board, Transport Board, Vice-Admiralty and Commissions of Inquiry Appointments 1746-1890)
  • ADM 6 (Admiralty: Service Records, Registers, Returns and Certificates 1673-1960)
  • ADM 7 (Admiralty miscellanea 1563-1956)
  • ADM 8 (Admiralty: List Books 1673-1909)
  • ADM 9 (Admiralty: Survey Returns of Officers' Services 1817-1848)
  • ADM 10 (Admiralty: Officers' Services, Indexes and Miscellanea 1660-1933)
  • ADM 11 (Admiralty: Officers' Service Records (Series I) 1741-1903)
  • ADM 12 (Indexes and digests for 1793-1913)
  • ADM 13 (Supplementary Admiralty records 1803-1917)
  • ADM 116 (Admiralty Record Office cases 1852-1965)
  • ADM 137 (records used to compile the official history of the First World War)

ADM records go up to ADM 363 plus one additional filed ADM 900.

Historical researchers criticisms

The Records office within the Admiralty consisted of very limited space. After it came under the responsibility of the Permanent Secretary's department a decision was taken covering three stages from 1932 to 1961 to choose what files to keep or not, this was left to records office staff, and as a result of certain behaviors of the civilian staff 98% of all routine: original and official papers were destroyed the consequence of which was an immeasurable historical loss.[5]


  1. Archives, The National. "Admiralty: Record Office: Cases". National Archives, 1852-1965, ADM 116. Retrieved 26 February 2017. 
  2. Hamilton, C. I. (Feb 3, 2011) (in en). The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805–1927. Cambridge University Press. p. 46. ISBN 9781139496544.,+not+just+to+manage+the+collections+but+also+to+devise+a+central+system+of&source=bl&ots=ZxcAnCuz_O&sig=4STm94VE6y6ds3s-upMWCz9aHn0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjo44rF6K3SAhUBvJQKHcR7CrsQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=Record%20Office%20was%20set%20up%20(1809)%2C%20not%20just%20to%20manage%20the%20collections%20but%20also%20to%20devise%20a%20central%20system%20of&f=false. 
  3. Archives, The National. "Records of Secretary's Department". National Archives, 1812-1968, ADM Division 15. Retrieved 26 February 2017. 
  4. Archives, The National. "Naval correspondence using the ADM 12 indexes and digests - The National Archives". National Archives, 1660-1965. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  5. Seligmann, Matthew S.; Nägler, Frank (Mar 3, 2016) (in en). The Naval Route to the Abyss: The Anglo-German Naval Race 1895-1914. Routledge. p. Introduction XVII. ISBN 9781317023265. 


  • Archives. National ADM (1205-1998) Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies concerning all aspects of the organisation and operation of the Royal Navy and associated naval forces. Records/ADM.
  • Hamilton C. I. (2011) The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805–1927, Cambridge Military Histories, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1139496544
  • Rodger. N.A.M., (1979) The Admiralty (offices of state), T. Dalton, Lavenham, ISBN 978-0900963940.

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