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Ancestors from the Indian subcontinent

Introduction

This is a follow-on guide to Researching Immigrant Ancestry.

It relates specifically to sources that may help you discover more about your ancestors from the Indian subcontinent.

Hopefully, oral family history will have told you where your ancestors came from, and when and why they moved to Britain. It is useful to know why they came, because certain groups of people have particular records associated with them. These include:

  • People to whom the British Colonies gave permission to live and work in Britain
  • Those who came to Britain because they were employed by British people who had lived in the subcontinent, but returned home
  • Those who came to Britain on business or for specific jobs such as diplomats, politicians, merchants, employees of the East India Company, students, teachers or doctors
  • People taking the Indian Civil Service exam
  • Seamen known as the Lascars, who worked for the British Merchant Navy

However, the majority of immigrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have arrived in the years since partition in 1947.