Reply To: German Sergeant serving in Royal Marines 1797-1814

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Keith H

    Leaving aside his country of birth for now, you need to lock down what you know, so you have a framework.

    That we are currently aware, he served for eighteen years, and became a recipient of an out-pension in May 1814. This would imply that he enlisted 1795/96. In latter years, he was a Chatham Division marine.

    When a former Royal Marine applied for a pension, proof of service was required. This was simple enough. A clerk would look in the Description Book and the Discharge Book. Using these, the clerk’s attestation would confirm the latter Division (“home port” in essence) and the years they had served. Unfortunately, the Chatham Division’s discharge book do not cover a chunk of 1814 and 1815, if I remember rightly. Somewhat ironically, there was a peak in discharges, as the Royal Marines establishment went back to a peacetime level of headcount/resourcing, the first reduction taking place with effect from 17 August 1814. You may well be lucky in finding an entry for him, so it is still worth looking into:

    It would appear that he is in one of the surviving description books at Kew. This will give you the key details about him that he provided at attestation. Going forwards a century, if a Royal Marine were to desert, this sort of detail was reproduced in the Police Gazette, to assist in tracking down deserters!

    ADM 158/24
    Chatham Division

    ADM 158/25
    Chatham Division

    The Greenwich in-Pension and out-Pension records that have been digitised are of some use in getting the outline of a Royal Marine’s career.

    For the granular detail, you need to jump between their shore subsistence records (series ADM 96) and the ship musters (ADM 37, ADM 35 etc). When on shore, they were billeted with men on the same shore company number. When a Marine was promoted or demoted, they were reallocated to a different company number. The company number is usually on the ship muster.

    Depending upon time served, there were three classes of Royal Marine. The third class was those whose service was less than seven years, second class was between seven and fourteen years, and first class was service in excess of fourteen years.

    Someone well-meaning has suggested contacting a museum. Even if they had the resources to spend time on research, they won’t have anything extra in their inventory. The details you require are at Kew, be it the shore subsistence sheets or the ship musters.

    Best of luck with your research