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Jill has asked me to provide a few brief notes on the above subject.
The idea is to assist newcomers to the list with a quick potted history
so the notes are necessarily pretty broad. Resident experts who wish
to revise any of this note are invited to send their amendments and or
additions to me for inclusion in any later version.
The HEIC and British Forces in India.
The Honourable East India Company was one of the greatest commercial
enterprises ever seen. It grew so fast and so large that it was
allowed to have its own armies which were often supported directly by
the forces of the Crown, The British Army and the Royal Navy. The army
of the HEIC was actually three quite distinct armies that came into
being at different places and at different times but for pretty much the
same reason. Protecting a growing monopoly and the resultant commercial
profit. These armies were the armies of the three separate Presidencies
of Bombay, Madras and Bengal which were raised in that order over a
period of about a hundred years.
The Army of the Bombay Presidency
In open competition with Portuguese and French trading companies the
HEIC first moved into India in 1619. India at that time was no more a
single country than is Africa today. The HEIC established "factories"
meaning trading posts at each of Surat (near Bombay), Madras and Bengal
and grew steadily in wealth and influence. There was intense
competition but the Portuguese gave Bombay to King Charles II as part of
his dowry in 1662 and he sent a regiment to secure the new possession.
Most died of disease but this period can be seen as the start of the
Army of the Bombay Presidency.
The Army of the Madras Presidency.
The French remained as expansionist as the British and this competition
led to blows leading to the capture of Madras by French and local forces
in 1746. Not being slow to learn the HEIC reinforced its own local
European forces and together with support from the Army of the Bombay
Presidency recaptured Madras. This action can be seen as the formation
of the army of the Madras Presidency in 1748. In 1753 the 39th Foot, a
regiment of the Crown, arrived to bolster the HEIC forces.
The Army of the Bengal Presidency.
This started around 1756 when Clive captured Calcutta from the Nawab of
Bengal using both European and local HEIC troops from both Madras and
Bombay and some of the 39th Foot. In 1758 Clive raised the first Bengal
European regiments. The raising of wholly native Sepoy Regiments with a
sprinkling of European officers followed shortly after in Madras and
In 1773 the British Parliament passed an act called the Government in
India Act. This appointed a Commander in Chief of the HEIC's three
Presidency Armies and regularized the succession of Cs in C which had
previously been fairly haphazard.
As the wealth and power of the HEIC grew so grew its armies. The HEIC
armies/army was however, primarily a native army with British officers
and higher direction. This then was the situation up until 1857 the
year of the Great Mutiny. Three essentially independent armies based on
each of Bombay, Madras and Bengal. The independent nature of these
armies was quite understandable as communication was extremely slow and
difficult. For the bulk of the period the overland route across Egypt
was not developed, there were no steamships and also no telegraph until
the 1840s, just before the Mutiny. Local commanders did what they
thought best as they had no other option.
Social structure of the Armies of India before 1857
The British Army in India comprised wholly European Officers and men and
the key distinction was that these were Regiments of the Crown. The
officers all held the King's commission and the lowest King's officer
had a social status higher than any officer of "John Company". British
officers in those days actually purchased their commissions and
commissions in the "smarter" regiments were very expensive. The thing
was that appointment to a King's commission gave enormous social status
and the opportunity for both profit and advancement. Not surprisingly,
as the system was not abolished until the late 1800's you could
occasionally have very young and inexperienced Commanding Officers.
The three Presidency armies comprised a very few regiments of wholly
European Officers and Rank and File (or Other Ranks) together with a far
greater number of regiments of Native cavalry and infantry comprising
locally recruited other ranks with both European and Native officers.
Officers in the HEIC did not hold the King's commission but were in the
employ of the HEIC.
Officers in the HEIC were seen as less worthy beings (class being very
important in those days) and there was much ill feeling as a
consequence. Never-the-less if you could not purchase a King's
commission or support yourself in a "smart" regiment (private means
were still necessary even as late as 1960) an ambitious young man could
seek gainful employ and a fast career path, if he lived long enough, in
the service of the HEIC.
The key point is that the armies were quite different and had different
allegiances. They associated and fought together occasionally but were
recruited , trained, and served differently. There was a three tiered
structure or social pyramid. There were first (in status and in the
pecking order) the very few regiments of the Crown, then there were the
wholly European regiments of the HEIC and then there was a much larger
number of Native Regiments ( of infantry and cavalry, artillery and
sappers and miners) with HEIC European officers supported by Native
Officers. here again the most junior HEIC officer outranked the most
senior Native office. Note that King's commissioned officers did not
routinely serve in native Regiments at all.
1857 and afterwards
In 1857 the whole thing blew up in the face of the HEIC in the form of
the Mutiny of the Army of the Bengal Presidency. Note that the Armies
of the Presidency of Bombay and Madras did not mutiny. These armies
were, together with the British Army and the Royal Navy Brigade,
instrumental in putting the mutiny down.
At the time of the Mutiny of the Bengal Army the HEIC had nine wholly
European regiments of infantry plus cavalry and artillery. After the
Mutiny these European regiments were transferred into the British Army
as the 101-109 Regiments of Foot. (There was a small but unimportant so
called White Mutiny of associated with this) As such a large proportion
of the HEIC rank and file were Irish many of these regiments later
became Irish in their titles. Practically the entire Bengal Army was
disbanded for disaffection and something approaching a hundred regiments
were struck from the order of battle. The British also removed all
artillery across all the three armies except for small mountain guns
from Native units. This was because mutinous Native Artillery had done
far too much damage to the British troops putting down the Mutiny. The
Bombay, Madras and Bengal artillery merged into the Royal Artillery.
Thus, 1858 saw the political end of the Army of the HEIC. The
Presidency armies were taken under the crown and were no more.
Individual units however kept on keeping on and many units of the Indian
Army of today are exceedingly proud of this lineage. (more later if
Genealogical notes up until 1857
1. If your ancestor was at any time an officer in the British Army.
He is traceable through the British Army records in London and there is
a host of reference material in the related army list/s regimental
museums and elsewhere.
2. If your ancestor was an Other Rank in the British Army then there
is no such single annual listing of rank and location, except that if
you can positively associate your man with a regiment you can trace him
to the regimental muster and pay rolls if they still exist and many do.
3. If your man was an officer in the HEIC you may find a record of him
at the HEIC museum/records in London. Many went to the HEIC training
school or Officer's Academy at Addiscombe and these records exist.
There are always other records for the persistent researcher.
4. If your man was an Other Rank in the European regiments of the HEIC
then I have at this time no knowledge of where you can look other than
to read extensively in the regimental histories etc. as there is
frequently mention of heroic acts.
I trust the above helps. As I say, amendments and or corrections and
suggestions are welcome but I am not trying to write a book - just a
Is there a kind soul out there who has access to the BDM films of the IO in
I have the references for two baptisms from Indexes - available here in
Melbourne. Both entries - BOMBAY - Vol. 22 page 224 Angelina CLISBY 1848
& Vol. 25 page 19 Mary Ann CLISBY 1851.
I'd be happy with a transcript of the relevant details.
in pretty HOT ...Melbourne
I've just rejoined the list now I have email at home. Last time I was on
the list I had some mail from Nancy Sidell? who was searching D'Cruz. We
appeared to have an Elizabeth D'Cruz in common. Unfortunately she is no
longer at the email address. Does anyone know what happened to Nancy?,
or does anyone connect with Elizabeth D'Cruz born about 1850 in
Calcutta. She married my ggrandfather George Adam Chisholm (b. 1842
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
This message is from Tony Thatcher. Tony is a participant in our group
so any replies can be posted here or directly to him. Tony's address
I have been looking over some old photos taken by my grandparents
(McGOWAN) when they lived in a large government supplied bungalow in
Sabour near the Agricultural College between 1917-1925. There is a
picture of the the servants - 14 of them!! What could they all have
done? After my grandmother had a baby she had an ayah as well!
More interesting to me is the makeup of the servants and the clothing
they wore. They were all male. Some must have been married, but
their wives evidently were not considered to be staff. I understood
the servants lived in houses on the estate too. Eight of them wore
white robes with headgear and stood in the picture. They must be inside
servants. Six wore white turbans (or whatever the correct term is) of
various shapes and sizes, one had a coloured turban with a sash and
crest(Head Servant(?)), and one a Neru hat. The remaining six in the
picture are sitting and were dressed less elegantly. Outside workers
perhaps. Three of those were bare chested some with turbans wrapped
very strangely, some not even covering the entire head. One is bare
Can anyone tell me whether this was the standard household in those
days? Does the picture suggest anything interesting about the people
I am very reluctantly unsubscribing for a while due to
work problems and an overload of English research.
I thought about giving it up . (my job of course)
I wish to thank you all for the help and guidance that has been so
generously given to me.
Best wishes to you all from,
Roger Capewell in Derbyshire, UK.
Edward's message about meeting other researchers in the OIOC Reading Room
strikes a note yet again. For anybody that may be interested:
Donald Jaques (late BAIS, now FIBIS, look-up king)and I are in the OIOC
Reading Room every Tuesday.
Donald tries to get in there every Thursday and I try to get in there every
Friday and Thursdays also for the forseeable future.
Because we are in there so often, we are quite well known by the staff at
the Customer Service counter.
If anybody wants to meet up for tea etc, ask at the counter - the staff
will usually point you in the right direction.
I'll put the idea of some sort of a badge on the agenda for the next
meeting of the FIBIS trustees, 13 February, at which time we will also be
discussing some sort of a logo.
Secretary, Families in British India Society, a charity (non-profit
organisation) registered in the UK.
Tony Fuller is also a professional researcher whose name appears on the
'approved' list of the India Office Library, part of The British Library,
The Indo-European Telegraph Department
The History of the EIC including the EIC Chapel and Hospital in Poplar,
The Black Hole of Calcutta
Home Page: http://www.tfresearch.u-net.com
Have read with interest the discussion on mottoes etc. Read an
article in the
Sydney Morning Herald here a couple of years ago and was impressed with
part of it, which I immediately used on a home page on family history.
It read; "Only those of us blessed with memory have the ability to care.
And so we should. All the comings and goings, the loss and the tragedy
have meaning - they are part of this place called Australia and they are
part of us and we have a duty to remember."
I am early in the process of tracing my Great Great Grandfather James
Craig who was a Major (I believe) in the Indian Army. I have been told by a
relative that she recalls her grandmother (the daughter of the above James
Craig) attended school in Naini Tal. I was also led to believe that the she
was taught by Nuns, and, that it was an Anglican School she attended.
Does anybody know about the existance of such a school, and if so, was it
possible that her brother (my grandfather) could have attended the same
Neil Craig in Ontario, Canada
Last week I was lucky enough to be able to spend three days beavering
away in the India Office Records Library in London. Incidentally, this
is a great place to spend a pleasurable few hours ploughing through
data, - the staff are extremely helpful and pleasant, and there is
absolutely MASSES of information to hand.
However, I felt that whilst there, there must have been other people
with a similar interest who were also in the Library. It would have
been nice to have met someone from this list, or from the Families in
British India Society, in order to share a cup of tea or lunch in the
Is there any sense in suggesting that subscribers to this list, or
members of FIBIS, wear some form of "badge" which makes us recognisable
in places such as the India Office Library? Any views?
THE MURPHY PHILOSOPHY
Smile ....... tomorrow will be worse
O'TOOLE'S COMMENTARY ON MURPHY'S LAW
Murphy was an optimist
Edward Nicholl is on the Web at
Check it Out!!
>The ebullience, and euphoria experienced upon finally finding the elusive
>document we are searching for can perhaps be best expressed in the
But what about the ones we never find?!
There's always : Dum Investigatio Spero (While I search I hope)
or for those who object to Latin, Kipling's own immortal dictum from The
But my money's still on Floreat Stemma Indica (may the Indian family tree
flourish) or to be less partisan : Floreat Stemma !
Well it would be, wouldn't it!
"Hero of Malown" was a ship of 482 tons, not 42. Typ error.
Also, forgot to mention that the black and white India photos featured on
the web-site; many were taken by a Colonel Biggs.
Kimball Thurlow in Australia.
I also have a copy of a photograph taken by Bourne and Shepherd.
In my case, the subject was an officer in the Bombay Staff Establishment,
Charles Willis Godfrey, and his wife Sidney nee Marsden. Charles was born
in 1841, and he appears to be about 30 years old. I guess the photo was
taken about 1870.
Because there is no city name attached, I tend to think it may have been a
travelling photographic outfit that travelled to the various towns, barracks
and outposts to do business. Sounds sensible in a country like India.
Kimball Thurlow in Australia.
From: Hpwent(a)aol.com <Hpwent(a)aol.com>
To: INDIA-L(a)rootsweb.com <INDIA-L(a)rootsweb.com>
Date: Sunday, 31 January 1999 9:52
>I'm trying to find out where the 62nd Wiltshire Regiment was stationed in
>India between 1873-1891. Can anyone identify two photographers "Bourne and
>Shepherd" and also "Thomas A. Rust"? I would like to know which Index to
>to find out where the children were born/christened.
On 29 Jan 99, at 10:54, Grenadier(a)POBoxes.com wrote:
> Mason tells of the bad men as well as the good. Thus Frederick Cooper, who
> unnecessarily caused the death of 282 mutineers who had surrendered to
> him, is depicted, as well as men like Charles Metcalfe, who abolished
> slavery in Delhi 50 years before it was abolished in America, and Bartle
> Frere, who made Bombay into a healthier city than London.
The highest mountain (hill?) in Queensland, australia, is named Mt
The first day of the New Millenium is
Monday 1st January, 2001
Check it out at.....
Written with Pegasus 3.01 the non MS Email Editor.
Gil began by writing:
>I have been reading, with great appreciation, the suggestions that have
>been put forward as mottoes for the India List.
and I have also enjoyed these, but slightly intimidated by my lack of
knowledge of latin and highly impressed by the offerings of all the scholars
out there on the list! So, to Gil in particular thank you for further
impressing with knowledge of additional languages complete with
translations. However, your closing words are indeed apt and fit in well
with much of my own philosophy. Regardless of our religious beliefs,
surely study of genealogy/family history brings a kind of immortality to
each of us, so this definitely has my vote:
> 'Non omnis moriar'
> 'I shall not altogether die' (Horace)
>I have maundered on long enough, so thank you for your patience,
come back anytime Gil!!!
Sylvia (on another humid Sydney afternoon! Obviously sending me a bit soft
in the head)
>I am slowly going crosseyed from staring at my maps of india. I am
> trying to find where Jubbulpore is,
Go cross-eyed no longer, Beverley - Jubbulpore is in Madhya Pradesh , in
the "middle of India" as you look at a map. It appears to be almost midway
between Nagpur (to the south) and Allahabad (to the north) and to the east
of Bhopal ....... there, thats the best I can do!
I have been reading, with great appreciation, the suggestions that have
been put forward as mottoes for the India List. I am a little uneasy
about suggesting a motto in Latin. We are members of a list that has
British India as its focus, and to inform each other we correspond in
English. I know that Latin was practically invented to create epigrams,
everything fits together in such a precise and succint way, but it is an
anomalous choice, rather like the peculiarity of the founders of the
modern Olympic movement creating their motto in Latin. And this to
celebrate one of the most famous events from the land of Aeschylus,
Sophocles, Demosthenes, Pericles, Euripides, Plato, Socrates and Hesiod
and Homer. Having said that, it doesn't take much to overcome the
inertia of the uninitiated, and we can easily learn what a few words in
another language mean.
Dante wrote, 'Considerate la vostra semanza.' With the addition of the
word Indian we have:
'Consider your Indian origins.'
Horace, I think : Hoc genus omne.' Some one of our Latinists could
incorporate the adjective Indian, correct as to case and gender, which
would give us:
'All that Indian tribe.'
Then as a tribute to the many different talents of our List members and
how we depend on each other's special knowledge, how about:
'Non omnis possumus omnes.' Which translates as:
'We can't all do everything' or 'There are some things that we cannot
To express delight in the abilities of those who know and generously
share their knowledge with us, consider the following:
'Ah, la belle chose que savoir quelque chose' or:
'Ah, it's a lovely thing to know a thing or two.'
Gibbon once said that he would not exchange his love for reading for the
treasures of India. We don't have to choose between either, we have
both: our Indian ancestors and the written records of their lives. So
'Seek the treasures of India'?
It would be remiss of me to omit Kipling from any list of suggestions.
We all know:
'Oh, East is East, and West is West
'And never the twain shall meet,'
but he did go on to say:
'Til Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great
We don't even have to wait for the Last Days because:
'But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed
'When two strong men stand face to face, though
'they come from the ends of the earth.'
As the old grammarian said, 'Man embraces woman.' therefore if we take
'From the ends of the earth.'
it would suggest all that had he had written before, about no East or
West, Border, Breed nor Birth, strong women and men, and we do come
from the ends of the earth.
Lastly, and I can hear you breathe a sigh of relief, bringing our
ancestors into our family trees confers a sort of immortality upon
them. Our descendants may do the same for us, so:
'Non omnis moriar'
'I shall not altogether die' (Horace)
I have maundered on long enough, so thank you for your patience,
Anyone looking for James Rundall,(married to Laura Thompson) who had an
East India General Agency, who's daughter, Elizabeth, married Judge
Robert Blair Swinton.
Also Charles Robert Thompson, born 1804, who took over the East India
Agency, with partner Ralph Keddey Thompson, born 1796. Ralph became a
Banker after the Penninsular War. William, born 1792, went to Calcutta,
and practiced as an Attorney in the India Office.
Also a Henry Thompson, sailed as a free mariner to India.
Does anyone have ties to this family from east London?
These are all children of William Thompson and Elizabeth Keddey, married