Registers, arranged numerically giving date of birth, ship or shore establishment and an account of service. The covering dates relate to the dates of opening the registers. Entries in them continue for many years according to the length of service of each seaman. The series includes eight volumes described as Continuation Books, also arranged numerically, which continue entries appearing in earlier registers. Service numbers can be found in nominal indexes at the end of each transfer.
From 1 January 1873 all Royal Navy ratings were allocated an 'Official Number'. Official numbers (O nos.) began at 40,001 to avoid confusion with any number previously allocated to Continuous Service men (ADM 188/1-4). The O or General number series spanned 1873-1907 and did not have prefix numbers. Sequential numbers were given to ratings irrespective of their branch: seamen, stoker, domestic, etc, to the number O 178,000.
From 1 January 1894 the numbering for all ratings entering the service became more specialised. A series of block allocations of numbers were introduced for six different classes of ratings. By 1907, the numbers of each series were in danger of overlapping and a simpler but similar numbering system was introduced with four different prefix letters to denote branches, or groups of branches. This revised scheme was applicable for new entrants from 1 January 1908 and it continued until October 1925, following the introduction of a revised pay code for naval entrants and marines in September 1925, because the Admiralty wished to distinguish any recruits entering under the new pay code.
ADM 188/1-4 are of the early A and B series before service number 40,001 when numbers were allocated in groups of three, i.e. 100, 100A and 100B. The service particulars in pieces ADM 188/9-82, from service number 42922, are continued in eight Continuation of Service volumes, ADM 188/83-90. References in the registers to the 'new registers' are to these Continuation Books.
Digital copies of Royal Navy ratings’ service records 1853-1928 are available to search and download.