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Ancestors from the Indian subcontinent

Records at the British Library and The National Archives

India Office records at the British Library

Records at the British Library include:

  • Passport records
  • Records of Indian Civil Service applicants
  • Records from the National Indian Association, which was concerned with the welfare of Indian students in the UK 
  • Gazetteers (one, the Imperial Gazetteer of India, is available online)
  • Copies of baptisms, marriages, burials, memorial inscriptions and wills of the Anglo-Indian and European communities living in India
  • Many useful printed works

The National Archives (TNA)

Records you will find at TNA include:

  • Registers of workers in the Indian Civil Service.
  • Indian Seamen (Lascars) service records and the Special Certificate of Nationality given to them. Pedlars’ Certificates were granted to many Lascars when they deserted.
  • Some annual reports from Strangers’ Home, a lodging house in London where many Asian seamen stayed. Notes were made of men who converted to Christianity and those who were unfit for work and were sent to Fulham workhouse.
  • Records relating to indentured labourers. Following the abolition of slavery, there was a shortage of workers on sugar plantations in the Caribbean, so many indentured labourers from India were sent to work there.
  • Copies of the Medical Register, 1895-1973, which has details of all doctors working in Britain.
  • Many Indian nationals and people of Indian descent who were born in this country served in the wars. Their records can be found among the military records. Some of these records  are also available through Ancestry and Find My Past. These are subscription websites, but are free to access at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO), the Norfolk Heritage Centre (NHC) and King’s Lynn Borough Archives.
  • Many useful printed works