Members Login: Remember Me Need your login details?

If you have an ancestor who served in the Royal Navy, the National Museum of the Royal Naval Portsmouth is a logical place to begin your research into life in the Navy.

Portsmouth is synonymous with the Navy. It was King Alfred who introduced the idea of a national fleet of ships to defend England against Danish invasion.

HMS Warrior in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard
HMS Warrior in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard

From then onwards, Kings of England saw the importance of Portsmouth as a safe harbour, just across the sea from France. It became home to the worlds first dry dock. A dockyard has survived here for over five hundred years, since  established in the reign of King Henry VII.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth does not hold any official naval personnel service records. However it  has an extensive archive of material that may just reveal that unexpected nugget of information.

So how can the museum help you with your research?

  • The archive is mainly a collection of groups of personal papers and accounts of service from all ranks and branches of the Navy. Personal diaries, memoirs, journals as well as collections of letters, c.1780-2000.
  • Small collections of historic interest principally from the C17th – C20th. Navy Board records, papers of Admiralty officials, ship and dockyard plans, logs, personal diaries, order books, letter books, accounts of exploration
  • C18th century maps and charts.
  • An extensive library of Naval history.

There is an online search facility available of the archive

  • To help with your research the museum has a bank of information on a wide variety of topics, in the form of information sheets and reading lists available to view online or for printing to hard copy.
  • Sea Your History project has digitised 15,000 items from 20th century collections and is available via its own website.

How HGS can help you to find out more about your military ancestors?

  • Many members of the society, including those on the research team, have a military background and expertise in this area, so feel free to contact us.
  • The HGS Research Centre in Cosham has an extensive library of books on all aspects of exploring your military family history.
  • Look at our ‘How to’ guides to help you find out more about your military ancestors.

Latest News

Old Alresford village booklet now available

Old Alresford, (VB100) is located midway between Alton and Winchester just north of New Alresford which is on the A31. Alresford Pond is a large lake created in the 12th Century at the head of the River Arle, a tributary of the River Itchen. Several water mills have existed along the river with the restored […]


Knowle War Memorial

Knowle Hospital was open in 1852 as the Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum. The asylum was renamed Knowle Mental Hospital in c.1923 and following the 1948 introduction of the National Health Service Act, became Knowle Hospital. At the beginning of the 20th century, Knowle Hospital was home to over 1000 patients and staff and was a self […]


Free Data in the Members’ Area

For some time HGS has had the intention of making some of its large collection of Family History data available to members in the Members’ Area of our website. With the development of our website we have now been able to begin this process and the first set to be introduced is of various ‘small churchyards’ […]


RIP Private Herbert Frank French

Herbert Frank FRENCH was born on 21st April 1884 at 11 Hyde Close in Winchester, the illegitimate son of Emily. On 18th January 1908 he married Sarah Ann (Annie) BIGNELL in Meonstoke and then settled in the village to raise their daughters Emily and Ivy. Herbert was initially in the Territorial Army then when WWI […]


Can you help

 We have recently been passed a copy of a photograph with a request for more information, maybe the location or the purpose. A comment with the photo says that the men were in training but didn’t say what for. 


All News...


Archives: