A batch of 224 War Office documents and registers relating to the Grenadier Guards have been released by The National Archives (TNA). This major body of records, covering two hundred years of the regiment's history, will now make it much easier for anybody wishing to research an ancestor who fought with the Grenadier Guards.


The records have been transferred from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and include muster rolls, pension records, attestations, transfers and leavers (including deserters) and more from the 18th century until recent times. Some of the records include marriages and baptisms and there are records from the Crimean War, Peninsular Wars and First World War.

The Grenadier Guards was formed in 1665 as the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards to protect the exiled Charles II. Since then the infantry regiment has won honours for its role in many past battles including the battle of Waterloo. During the First World War the Grenadier Guards was expanded from three battalions to five and a sixth battalion was formed during the Second World War. Since the mind-1990s the regiment has been reduced to just one battalion.

Records for the Guards Regiments (Grenadier, Coldstream, Irish, Welsh and Scots) have always been kept separate, like those of the Household Cavalry, and were originally held at the regimental headquarters at Birdcage Walk in London with the Guards Museum. Recently their records, including service records, were transferred over to the MOD.

A spokesperson at TNA said, "The Ministry of Defence transferred these records to The National Archives in early February. Under normal circumstances we would have aimed to have completed accessioning and made them available to the public by the end of April. However, with the lockdown and remote working introduced in March that was unable to happen. These records required physical inspection before accessioning and this could not be done without having access to the records. Following the limited resumption of operations at Kew we have now completed accessioning of these records."

Military historian and genealogist Phil Tomaselli said, "This material consists of registers which will be of interest to those with ancestors who served in the Grenadier Guards between 1760 and 1960. They are a mixed bag, in subject and dates. Although only a few (notably the registers of marriages and baptisms) will include much genealogical information, many provide extra details on incidents in a soldier's career."

Tomaselli flagged up that with current access restrictions at TNA due to coronavirus, family historians may have to wait before they can view the documents, "It's a set of records that could profit from being digitised and indexed, especially the lists of soldiers' numbers which would help readers applying for service records, which are held at The Army Records Office in Glasgow".

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The newly released records include a number of registers of deserters, with many from the First World War, along with records of wills and effects and recruits' records going up to 1960.

The collection does not include service records. Grenadier Guards service records remain with the MOD in Glasgow.

To request a service record, visit: https://gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/apply-for-someone-else-records.


Sarah Williams is the editor of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine