By an order in Council of 28 October 1664 a regiment of 1,200 land soldiers, known as the Admiral's Regiment, was raised 'to be distributed into His Majesty's Fleets prepared for Sea Service'. Thereafter other regiments were drawn off for sea service from time to time, but it was not until 1694, when two Marine regiments were formed, that soldiers were recruited exclusively for sea service.
On 16 May 1702 a separate Marine Pay Office was established: it continued to exist until 1831, when its duties were transferred to the Accountant General. Until 1755 the size, number and existence of regiments depended on the exigencies of war; they were disbanded altogether between 1713 and 1739 and again from 1745 until 1755, since when there has been a continuous establishment.
The early marine regiments had been under the direction of the Board of Admiralty only when afloat, but the new force called the Corps of Marines authorised in 1755 was placed under the sole control of the Board and was on a permanent footing. The new corps had no regimental structure, but was organised into numbered companies, which for administrative purposes were distributed among the three (later four) divisions or depots. The Marines were designated the Royal Marines by Royal Order of 29 April 1802. A Deputy Adjutant General was appointed in 1825 to administer the Royal Marines and his office became known in 1850 as the Royal Marine Office. He was under the superintendence of the Second Sea Lord.
In 1755 the Marines were formed into three divisions, based on Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth. A fourth division was established at Woolwich from 1805 to 1869. Each division consisted of several infantry companies; these were numbered and their location can be determined from the Navy List and from ADM 192. From 1804 there was an artillery company in each division and in 1862 these were amalgamated to form a separate artillery division, the Royal Marine Artillery, based on Portsmouth (Eastney). The infantry companies were designated Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1855. The Portsmouth Division RMLI was in barracks at Gosport between 1862 and 1923. The Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry were united in 1923 in a single corps, again called the Royal Marines.
A depot was set up at Walmer, Kent, (later known as the Royal Marines Depot, Deal) in 1862 and a Reserve Depot was formed in 1939 at Exton, near Lympstone in Devon; the latter became the Royal Marines Infantry Training Centre in 1946. In 1947 the divisions were superseded by groups, incorporating all Royal Marines establishments in their areas. The Chatham Group was closed down in 1950.