Over 2 million records chronicling the lives of British individuals who went to India since the time of the East India Company are now available online through the joint efforts of the British Library and a family history website, adding a new resource for historians and researchers.
The records include ancestry details of leading individuals such as Prime Minister David Cameron, whose six times great grandfather, 19th century novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, was born in erstwhile Calcutta.
The India Office Records held at the British Library spanning over two centuries of the British, from the East India Company to the Raj through to independence in 1947, have been scanned and are fully searchable online for the first time at the website.
The records will be of interest not only to family historians, but also social historians, academic researchers and biographers. Insights can be gained into the culture of British India as the records reveal much about the careers and family lives of expats, the offices of power and the men who held them, infant mortality, Anglo Indian marriages and family relationships.
The newly-released records chronicle the lives of Europeans living in areas under British influence and include individuals from all walks of life, the British Library said.
The details of their lives and deaths are documented in a variety of records ranging from returns of baptisms, marriages and burials, civil and military pensions and wills, to East India Company cadet papers and applications for the civil service.
The British in India collection makes it possible to find missing ancestors and build a vivid and detailed picture of what life was like for those early expats.
Among the highlights are the baptism records of writers Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell.
The library said that the lives of women in India, from top officials’ wives to girls who attended the orphan schools, have been brought out of the shadows for the first time.