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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military & Services by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
East India Company and Colonial Regiments (cont.)
Embarkation Lists 1734-1861
Before 1801 these give the place of origin, and some give information on soldiers’ wives and children. Films start at FHL film 1835455 for the years 1753-1861.
Entry papers for those wanting to join the HEICS between 1749 and 1856 are extant.
These are similar to the Army List but include civil servants, East India company ships and their masters, and European inhabitants in India and so forth. The volumes are entitled:
- East India Co. Register and Directory 1803-1858. M.M. Publications sell fiche reprints of the 1808, 1811, 1821, 1831 and 1851 editions.
- India List 1860-1906
- India Office List 1907-1937
- India and Burma Office List 1937-1947.
An example from the 325 FHL fiches starting at fiche 6028163) of the lists covering 1886-1940 follows.
CHART: India Office List for 1886 Extracts FHL fiche 6028163
‘Containing an Account of the Services of the Officers in the Indian Service and other information’
First come tables of names and dates when they assumed office of:
And then with dates and remarks:
Table of Salaries Sanctioned for the Chief Officers of the Administration of India
Native Princes and Chiefs if India
Then follows The India Office List, a ‘Record of the Public Services of Officers and others’ in alphabetical order. A few examples:
List of Officers in European Regiments 1796-1841
These are in army records WO 25.
Muster Rolls and Casualty Returns
Records are available for the:
- Bengal Army 1716-1861 on 39 FHL films starting at film 1867447.
- Madras Army 1762-1861 on 41 FHL films from film 1885893.
- Bombay Army 1708-1865 on 40 FHL films from film 1966429.
Useful personal details about men start in the 19th century.
Several English language Indian newspapers existed from 1780 and can be accessed.
Officer Cadet Registers and Entry Papers
These are held for 1775-1860, are jointly indexed, and include information on parents and educational qualifications, and many have christening certificates and letters of recommendation. Those for 1789-1860 are on 70 FHL films starting at film 1886143. The indexes are available on National Archives. Many of these cadets were educated or trained in England (Titford 1998) at:
- East India College which trained the company’s clerks was established at Hertford in 1806, but transferred to Haileybury, Hertfordshire in 1809.
- Royal Military Academy, Woolwich 1798-1808.
- Royal Military Academy, Marlow 1802-1809.
- Addiscombe Military Seminary in Surrey, 1809-1859 formed from the Academies at Woolwich and Marlow. Later called the Royal India Military College 1859-1861. Records on film start at FHL film 1867022 and Oliver has provided an interesting history.
- Royal Engineers Institution at Chatham 1815-1862.
- Others received training in India, for example at Quetta and Wellington Indian Army Colleges, whose records start on FHL film 1866993.
Officers of the European Regiments
Lists of officers 1796-1841 are in WO 25.
Pension registers and indexes of HEIC 1849-1876 and of the Indian Army 1849-1868 are in WO 23. The pension register for HEIC former soldiers of the period 1824-1856 is in WO 25. Miscellaneous pension funds existed, and records extant include that for the Lord Clive Fund that started in 1770.
Personnel records for Uncovenanted Civil Service
These were the junior and technical grades and cover 1818 to 1947.
Probate Indexes 1618-1909
There are 24 volumes of indexes to wills, administrations and inventories in Z/L/AG/34.
Recruit Registers 1817-1860.
These are listed by recruiting district and give the recruit’s age, place of birth, former occupation and description, plus the regiment to which allocated, but are not indexed. Recruits were housed in barracks at home: at Newport, IOW 1801-1815, Chatham 1815-1843, and Warley, Essex 1842-1860. They were then shipped out to India in groups of several hundred at a time.
Registers of East India Company - European Soldiers
Gives personal details and place of origin 1786-1860s. No soldiers who died before 1831 are here.
Service records of men who served in HEIC and the Indian Army up to WWI are available. The records of men who served in the British Army in India are described in the section on the army.
War Diaries from WWI and WWII
Those from Indian Army formations in the First World War are in WO 95, and from the Second World War in WO 160-179. Those having ancestors born and raised in India may have Indian and other Asiatic ancestry as well as British. Indians are referred to as East Indian or Indo-Briton, whilst those of Portuguese-Indian descent were termed Eurasian. Those having a British father and Indian mother were called Anglo-Indian and would have their father’s surname even if their parents were not married, and be Christians. As happened in North America, many men had country wives as well as a British wife at home, and Fowler’s India and Family History in Family and Local History Handbook 6th edition has indicated that at least a third of HEIC’s men had Indian wives or mistresses. The researcher should be prepared to encounter more than one wife and set of children, with upper ranks sometimes having several at once!
By 1789 the products of these inter-racial marriages, Eurasians and Anglo-Indians, were seen to be a potential threat to security and were prevented from serving as soldiers in the Indian Army. Later they were excluded from senior posts in HEICS but could still become bandsmen, surveyors and apothecaries. In the early 19th century these unfortunate people were discriminated against by both the British and Indians; for their work they tended to concentrate in postal, telegraph, customs and the railway systems. An elegant summary of two and a half centuries of social history is found in Fowler’s India and Family History in Family and Local History Handbook 6th edition.
The really great news is that the British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections catalogue is on the net at The National Archives and these indexes are searchable by keyword, such as a surname. The OIOC’s Ian Baxter’s 2001 excellent article is essential reading on what is available and in progress in the Access to Archives (a2a) facility on the net. They have allowed the GSU to microfilm huge amounts of material; only a tiny sample of films have been given in this text as examples. When researching from afar it makes sense to fully utilize the a2a indexes and descriptions of the records combined with the FHLC for obtaining those you need to see.
Hodgson’s Index to British Officers in the Indian Army, the Bengal Army, and the HEIC Army (but not the British Army in India), together with maritime officers and EIC civil servants, is held by the National Army Museum. Gabb’s book on Anglo-India 1600-1947 (1600-1947-Anglo-Indian Legacy. A Brief Guide to British Raj History, Nationality, Education, Railways and Irrigation) will be useful background reading. Baxter’s India Office Library and Records: A Brief Guide to Biographical Sources (1990) provided an authoritative guide to the British Library collection, and N. C. Taylor has authored a source book for the Society of Genealogists’ collection (Sources for Anglo-Indian Genealogy in the Library of the Society of Genealogists). British and European ancestors in India and South East Asia from 17th to 20th centuries are the focus of British Ancestors in India (UK) Ltd’s Indiaman Magazine at India Man There are over 70 links to useful web pages. Fuller, and Sally Carter have described typical searches for HEICs families in India, and Pitcher has chronicled a HEIC voyage to China in 1806 on the Marquis of Ely, and lists the whole ship’s company.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military and Services offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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