Church records

From FIBIwiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Quick Links:
Churches category
Church records
Church images
Churches in North India
Churches in South India

There was some registration of Births and Deaths in British India, commencing in 1864 in Calcutta, but generally it was voluntary, and records which exist are difficult to access. The next best thing for a genealogist is to use Church Records. An estimated 70% of all baptism, marriage and burial records have survived today in the India Office Records, and they are all indexed and available on microfilm. Records of baptisms, marriages and burials are available 1698-1968.

The records are housed in the British Library in London.

In 1930 the Anglican Church in India separated from the Church of England and became the autonomous Church of India, Burma and Ceylon, still within the Anglican Communion. From this time onwards fewer ecclesiastical records were sent to England, and the number continued to decline over time. By the 1940s there were very few records sent to England.

Certificate of an 1885 marriage

Records at the British Library

Accuracy

The ecclesiatical records in the India Office collection are transcriptions of registers from churches in India, sent to London for administrative purposes. As such, there are occasional transcription errors.

Note that the name of godparents are entered only occasionally on copies of baptisms in the Ecclesiastical Returns held at the British Library. This information is, however, generally available from the church registers in India.

Year of record may differ from year of event

The year a record was sent to England (which determines the Volume in which the record is located) may occasionally be later than the year in which the event took place, sometimes, for remote locations, by many years. Records a year or two late are more common. This fact may be of significance when locating a record in a microfilm, if you do not know full details.

Access at the British Library

Microfilmed copies of all the records are available for public inspection and indexes are on the open shelves of the Asian & African Studies Reading Room, broken down by Presidency, alphabetically and by year. Records are catalogued under the 'N' series (ie, the references for ecclesiastical records being with N), under the heading Ecclesiastical Returns

The British Library article contains visiting tips and information.

Online records and transcriptions

  • The commercial website findmypast digitised the India Office Church records and they were released online on 29 January 2014. Due to the fact that more recent records may contain details for individuals who are still living, the website findmypast host only a basic index for birth/baptism records within 100 years and marriage records under 84 years. [1]
  • Many of the indexes have been previously transcribed by FIBIS Volunteers and are available in the FIBIS Search database under the heading Ecclesiastical Records.
  • Enhanced indexes from the church records at the British Library were added in April 2010 to the LDS Family Search website. These are free to search and view but examination of the full record will give further information.

Anglican Records

Since the East India Company only officially accepted employees of Protestant faith, all early Ecclesiastical Records are Anglican. The India Office categorization of these records and their earliest dates are:

Bengal N/1 1713
Madras N/2 1698
Bombay N/3 1709

Roman Catholic Records

The Company initially legislated against the employment of Roman Catholics. However, such was the pressure to find recruits for its armies in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in the late 18th Century, it was forced to repeal this legislation and to recruit Catholic soldiers from Ireland. The pastoral needs of these soldiers were generally met by the independent Catholic Missionaries, largely established by the Portuguese or the French.

Following Catholic emancipation in England and Wales (1829) Irish soldiers prevailed upon the presidency authorities to provide English-speaking Catholic chaplains and churches for their use. These were established beginning in the mid-1830s. Again, their BMD returns were made to the presidency ecclesiastical authorities. Initially, these returns were filed separately (N/x/RC series, where x=1 for Bengal, x=2 for Madras and x=3 for Bombay) but after a few years, they were amalgamated with the Anglican records.
N/1/RC 1842-1856, N/2/RC 1835-1854, N/3/RC 1842-1854. These records are available on LDS microfilm, refer table below.

Missionary and Non-Conformist Church records, including the Church of Scotland

It may be noted that a number of independent missionary and non-conformist churches were requested to return their BMD records to the presidency authorities. The latter considered it necessary to record proof of relationships of its employees for official purposes such as rights to pension, etc. A number of priests refused to do this, largely on the grounds of time taken and of cost. Accordingly, many of their vital events are not recorded in the APAC today. Foremost among these are the records of the large numbers of Catholic soldiers who used the missionary churches during the thirty years or so before emancipation. To obtain details from these ‘missing’ records, it is necessary to visit the church where the ceremony was performed and to apply to see the original register.

With the passage of time, the BMD returns became increasingly included and therefore more likely to feature in the ‘N’ series of returns at the BL. Note, however, a number of marriages performed in the Church of Scotland feature in the Registrar marriages, as explained in the link.

Some Church of Scotland Bombay church records and records for St Andrew's Church of Scotland, Madras may be found in LDS Microfilms of Church registers in India, but the records for St Andrew's Church of Scotland in Calcutta have not been filmed and are only obtainable from the church, refer Calcutta-Churches and missions. St Andrew's Church in Calcutta also holds the Baptism and Marriage Registers and some other documents for Church of Scotland cantonment Churches throughout India, Ceylon, Burma and some Gulf stations.[2]. See Burma: Records: LDS (Mormon) for details of Presbyterian church magazine extracts reporting baptisms, marriages and deaths in Burma, and also Malaya, Sumatra, and Siam, available on LDS microfilm

Other records

  • Bengal Past and Present: Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, available at the British Library has lists of baptisms, marriages and burials based on the original church registers in Calcutta, up to 1800. They are probably mostly covered by the Ecclesiastical Returns in the B.L., however there may be some additional entries which never made it to England (e.g. the ship carrying the returns to England was lost). There are also some biographical details. Some of the lists are available online on the Digital Library of India website.
    • Baptisms 1767 -1777 and Baptisms 1778-1782 Transcriptions from Registers of St John's, Calcutta by E W Madge as they appeared in Bengal Past and Present[3] – this link is to website of Madge Family of Bengal. Each listing contains many pages of biographical notes (13 and 16 pages respectively). The first page of the second document lists articles in other volumes of BP&P containing transcriptions of baptisms, marriages and burials to 1800.
    • Baptisms 1713-1758 BPP Volume XXI, pp 143-159
    • Baptisms 1769-1766 BPP Volume V, pp 325-332
    • Marriages 1713-1754 BBP Volume IX, Part II, Serial No 18, Oct-Dec 1914 pp 217-243. Available online on DLI, catalogued as vol. 9, 1918; computer pages 86-112.
    • Marriages 1759-1779 BBP Volume IV, July-Dec 1909 pp 486-512. Available online on DLI as (1909) vol. 4; computer pages 107-147
    • Marriages 1780-1785 BPP Volume VII, pp 164-171. Available online on DLI, catalogued as (1917) vol. 7 but published c 1911; computer pages 197-204
    • Marriages 1785-1792 BBP Volume XVI, Part I, Serial No 31, Jan-March 1918 pp 41-71 Available online on DLI as vol.16, pt. 1; computer pages 52-82
    • Marriages 1781-1800 (Supplementary Register) BBP Volume XXI, pp 76-141
    • Burials 1713-1755 BPP Volume X, Jan-June 1915, Serial Nos 19-20, pp 257-284 Available online on DLI as vol.10; computer pages 84-111
    • Burials 1759-1761 BBP Volume V, pp 136-142
    • Burials 1762-1774 BBP Volume VI 1910, pp 92-126 Available online on DLI, catalogued as Volume 6, no 12; computer pages 143-177
    • Burials 1775-81 BPP Volume 31 (Jan-Jun 1926) pages 130-156. Available online on DLI, catalogued as Vol.31,Part.1,Serial no.61, computer pages 149-175
    • Burials 1782-88 Volume 32 II (Oct-Dec 1926) pages 109-132. Available online on DLI, catalogued as vol.32, computer pages 132-155

Regional breakdown of ecclesiastical records

(Baptisms, Marriages and Burials)
Catalogue Section Presidency or Region Range of Volumes Range of Years LDS Film Range* (I = Index)
N/1 Bengal 1 – 641 1713 – 1948 498954 - 535699
. . RC/1-5 1842 – 1856 LDS Library catalogue
N/2 Madras 1 – 176 1698 – 1948 463296 - 527486
. . RC/1-8 1835 – 1854 530008 - 530011
. Cochin 177 1751 – 1804 .
N/3 Bombay 1 – 178 1709 – 1948 462965 - 523914
. . RC/1-5 1842 – 1854 LDS Library catalogue
N/4 India and Pakistan 1 – 8 1949 – 1968 527415 - 527421
N/5 Indian States 1 – 2 1890 – 1946 498603 (I) & 527422-3
N/6 St. Helena 1 – 3 1767 – 1835 498603 (I) & 498605
N/7 Fort Marlborough, Bencoolen 1 1759 – 1825 498603 (I) & 498606
N/8 Penang (Prince of Wales Island) 1 1799 – 1829 498603 (I) & 498606
N/9 Macao & Whampoa(Canton) 1 1820 – 1834 498603 (I) & 498606
N/10 Burma 1 – 7 1937 – 1957 527436 (I) & 534495
N/11 Registry Office Marriages 1 – 11 1852 – 1911 Not Filmed
N/12 Kuwait Political Agency 1 – 16 1937 – 1961 Not Filmed
N/13 Aden 1 – 21 1840 – 1969 Believed unfilmed
N/14 Register Lists .
. (Registration Act 1886) .
. . 1 Bengal
. . 2 Bombay
. . 3 Madras, Assam, Burma, Central Provinces and Punjab

* or Film Numbers to insert into LDS Catalogue to yield full range. Note: The LDS tend to classify the locations of these ecclesiastical events according to the present day Indian States, which the researcher will have to relate to the provinces of the former British Presidencies.

Other sources

Churches

  • Churches in South India, a list of postal addresses and phone numbers of all bishops of CSI dioceses in India, correct in 1993 together with some current website details.
  • Churches in North India, a list of the postal addresses and phone numbers of all bishops of CNI dioceses in India, correct in 1993, together with some current website details.
  • Catholic Churches in Madras, a list of Roman Catholic churches in Madras, with their date of building and approximate location. This list was kindly transcribed by Peter Bailey.
  • Calcutta, a reference to a listing of church records in Calcutta to 1800.

External links

Roman Catholic

References

  1. The British In India Collection bl.uk
  2. Previous Home page and Archive St. Andrew's Church. Retrieved 28 October 2014
  3. Available on the Digital Library of India website. Bengal Past and Present Volume 25, Parts I and II (Series nos 49-50) January-June 1923, pages 130-155 and Volume 26, part 2, 1923, pages 142-168, DLI computer pages 45-71