Birth, marriage and death records
These ‘Vital Records’ include not only Births, Marriages and Deaths but more particularly in India, Baptisms/Christenings, Marriages and Burials. There was some registration of Births and Deaths in British India commencing in 1864 in Calcutta but generally it was voluntary.
There are a number of sources for locating birth, marriage or death information. This article provides an overview of these. See the links to the main article for each source for more in depth information.
Consider that a person may have been baptised with a certain Christian name, but been known by a completely different name, either for their whole life, or for various periods.
Consider also that a second marriage may be bigamous, or the birth mother may not be correctly stated in a baptismal record, as indicated by this India List post.
Occasionally a person who had been widowed is described as a Bachelor/Spinster on a 2nd marriage record, according to this India List post
- 1 FIBIS database
- 2 Ecclesiastical records (‘N’ Series in the India Office Records)
- 3 Registrar Marriages
- 4 Records on the LDS Family Seach website
- 5 ‘Domestic Occurrences’ in registers, almanacs and newspapers
- 6 Records at The National Archives
- 7 BMDs at sea
- 8 British Army
- 9 Birth and death registration
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
Click on the "FIBIS database" in the panel on the left of the screen.
Ecclesiastical records (‘N’ Series in the India Office Records)
Main article: Church records
The East India Company established and paid for Anglican dioceses and parishes in all areas as they came under its control. Each parish priest was required to establish registers in which to record BMDs. In addition, he had to send duplicates to the presidency ecclesiastical authorities. The latter have been collated and sent to London and are now in the care of the India Office Records at the British Library in their Asian & African Studies Reading Room. Ministers, priests and missionaries who were not employed by the East India Company were not obliged to send these returns, however some did so on a voluntary basis but these records are available to a lesser extent.
Microfilmed copies of all the records are available for public inspection and indexes are available on the open shelves of the APAC, broken down by Presidency, alphabetically and by year.
The N series contains Anglican and some Catholic and Non-Conformist records.
These records have been digitised and are available online through the commercial site findmypast.co.uk. However, be aware that the digital images are restricted for privacy purposes and a limited transcription only is available, currently (January 2014) as follows: There are no digital images for baptisms after 1914, nor for marriages after 1929
Main article: Registrar marriages
Marriages conducted by the Registrar, which commenced in 1852, are included in the India Office ‘N’ series (N/11). A complete transcription of the indexes to these records is included in the FIBIS Search section of this website.
The Registrar Marriages records are thought to be included in the digitised records available on the commercial site findmypast.co.uk
If they haven't been digitised, the LDS have not filmed these records so they may only be viewed at the British Library.
Records on the LDS Family Seach website
Main article: IGI
The LDS maintained International Genealogical Index is a huge database of genealogical information. The IGI contains several hundred thousand birth and marriage entries for the British India period, data input from the ecclesiastical record microfilms. Those from the ecclesiastical records provide reference numbers so that the microfilms may be viewed at LDS Family History Centres.
Details of other microfilms from the LDS Library Catalogue in respect of Church registers in India are also included.
‘Domestic Occurrences’ in registers, almanacs and newspapers
Main article: Domestic Occurrences
'Domestic Occurrences' was a section found in many periodical publications detailing birth, marriage and death announcements. It is easy to search these records in the digitized versions of journals and directories that are available online. FIBIS has a wealth of transcribed resources.
Records at The National Archives
Main article: General Register Office
The National Archives hold some records that may be useful in tracing a BMD outside of the United Kingdom. For more help see TNA’s brief guide "Looking for records of a birth, marriage or death of a British national at sea or abroad" or the books Tracing Your Ancestors in The National Archives by Amanda Bevan (7th edn, National Archives Kew, 2006), including chapter 8, "Births, marriages and deaths of Britons overseas or in the armed services" and The British Overseas, A Guide to Records of Their Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths and Burials Available in the United Kingdom by Geoffrey Yeo (London, 3rd edition 1995). Both are available at the British Library. Tracing your Ancestors is available from the FIBIS Shop through Amazon.co.uk
BMDs at sea
Main article: Births, marriages and deaths at sea
Birth and death registration
Main article: Birth and death registration
Some birth and death registration did occur in British India. It commenced in the 1860s but was only compulsory in some areas, with other places adopting voluntary registration. The records are obtained from local Municipal Corporations, therefore researchers must know where a birth occurred. Some people born in India pre 1947 have copies of their birth registration. Recent copies are known to have been obtained from the Shimla Municipal Corporation following a visit there, but it is not known whether these documents are generally available, or how far back existing records go.
- Cemeteries, including
- British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia. The BACSA website now has a search facility for the indexes to its cemetery books (work in progress) These indexes are free to search and browse, a charge applies for the record.
- Society of Genealogists
- National Army Museum
- Ahmadabad for a series of images from FamilySearch "India, Gujarat Diocese Protestant Church Records, 1854-2012"
- Kirkee, for digitised pages from the registers from All Saint's Church, Kirkee
- St. Helena, for digital images from registers for Banns of Marriage [1849-1924].
- This India List post is about change of surname.
- This India List post discusses 'assuming a name' which was a way of ensuring continuity of a family name when it would otherwise have died out for lack of a direct male descendant.
- Tracing a Change of Name by Deed Poll in the UK deedpoll.com . Some records are available at The National Archives. It is often the case that a proof of name change either never existed or no longer does.
- Marriage Licence Records (Allegations and Bonds) at Guildhall Library This is a brief introduction to searching for records relating to the issue of marriage licences, with particular reference to those concerning the City of London and former county of Middlesex. Licences were issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Bishops, and the records are called Marriage Allegations or Bishops’ Marriage Allegations.
- I Can't find My Ancestor in the BMD Index by Celia Heritage sog.org.uk upload 2013. Although written about the England BMD Index, a number of the considerations apply to the India records
- Second Cousins and Removed Cousins: What's the Difference by Amy Johnson Crow October 16, 2013 www.archives.com