Records at a Glance: India

By Sunny McClellan Morton Premium

Cemetery records
Check for gravestone transcriptions and burial records.
National decennial censuses started in 1871.
  • Early regional censuses and surveys.
  • British decennial censuses beginning in 1801; may be of entire or selected populations.
  • Microfilmed copies of many censuses at the FHL
  • Baptisms, marriages, and deaths were reported to the British government annually.
  • Originals in India Office of the British Library in London; also available at, Families in British India Society and FamilySearch.
  • Microfilmed parish register transcripts at the FHL
  • Civil service records Annual civil lists began in 1702. See writers’ petitions for executive positions, and career and establishment lists for subordinate workers.
  • Originals at India Office Library; some searchable at
  • Microfilmed copies at the FHL
Military records
These include entry (enlistment) papers, officer and regimental lists, embarkation lists, muster and casualty rolls, marriage notifications, leaves and discharges, advancement paperwork and pension files.
  • British Army records at the British national archives
  • Honourable Company archive at India Office library
  • Many Honourable Company records microfilmed at the FHL
Probate records
Look for estate inventories and wills and grants of administration.
  • Originals at India Office library; some searchable online
  • Microfilmed copies at the FHL
Immigration records
Use passenger lists, ship registers, embarkation lists and notices of arrival.
  • Passages to and from India were published in the Bengal Directory (1815-1859), Madras Almanac (1811-1861), and Bombay Directory (1817-1856).
  • Directories/almanacs at the British Library and the British national archives
  • 183,000 records searchable at
  • India Embarkation List 1753-1861 (men who left England for India) on microfilm at the FHL

From the March 2011 Family Tree Magazine