East India Company Army
The East India Company maintained a formidable army in each of its three Presidencies. Although there was a military presence in each Presidency beforehand, the Company established formal armies following the French capture of Fort St George (Madras) during the War of Austrian Succession in 1746. These armies grew over the next hundred years until the renowned ‘Indian Mutiny’ (1857-59). After the Mutiny, the India Act of 1858 of the English parliament, decreed the dissolution of these armies. Its European soldiers were given the option either of transferring to the British Army or of discharge with a bounty and shipment back to Europe. About 50 percent selected each option. The mutinous native regiments were disbanded but those few, who remained loyal to the British, plus loyal native irregular units, formed the basis of the new ‘Indian Army’, which continued until Independence
The three Presidency armies were quite distinct from each other and operated independently. More information can be found on their respective articles:
- Applications for Cadetships
- Court Martials
- Medal Roll for the China Campaign, 1842 Madras Artillery & Staff only
- Muster Lists
- Officers service records
- Pensions and Funds
- Prize Lists
- Soldiers Service Records
- The First Soldiers of the EIC Army
- "Looking for Gunner Hurley in India" by Malcolm Hurley Mills and Lawrie Butler
- Part 1 FIBIS Journal Number 17 (Spring 2007) Part 2 FIBIS Journal Number 22 (Autumn 2009)
- Refer FIBIS Journals for details of how to access these Journals
FIBIS Research Guide
This is the essential handbook for anyone researching ancestors who were connected to the HEIC Armies of Bengal, Bombay, and Madras. It covers records from the armies' origins until their assimilation into the British Army in 1860. Laid out in a clear and accessible manner, the book directs searchers to records on all available stages of a man's career, whether officer or soldier, including sources which may provide details on his wife and children. For those researchers not fortunate enough to have access to the India Office Records at the British Library, the LDS film numbers are included. A full review by Richard Scott Morel, Archivist of Pre-1858 India Office Records, is available on pp. 45-46 of the FIBIS Journal 17 (Spring 2007)
Purchase a copy from the FIBIS Online Shop
India Office records at the British Library
Also see the individual pages for the three Presidency Armies, mentioned above
British Library’s Help for Researchers: European Officers
Records include Cadet Papers IOR/L/MIL/9/107-253 1789-1860. Cadet Papers up to about c 1805, may comprise nothing more than a baptism certificate or father's declaration of date of birth.
See Application for Cadetships, in FIBIS resources above, available on the FIBIS database.
- IOR/L/MIL/9/107-115 1789-1806, IOR/L/MIL/9/116-157 1806- 1825, IOR/L/MIL/9/158-199 1825-1842, IOR/L/MIL/9/200-239 1841-1857, IOR/L/MIL/9/240-253 1856- 1860
- LDS microfilm catalogue entry for these Cadet Papers
- List of Cadets who joined the East India Company Armies 1789-1859 with equivalent LDS microfilm number. Bob Holland’s Raimpais website
- Military Depots: Depot Embarkation Lists IOR/L/MIL/9/77-84 1824-1860. These records are arranged by ship and generally give name, age, height, place of birth, date and place of enlistment, period of service, previous occupation, and remarks.
- Embarkation Lists IOR/L/MIL/9/85-106 1753-1861 Registers of men embarked, compiled at the port of embarkation. They are arranged by ship, and each volume contains an index of ships' names. The records may include rank, place of birth, trade, age and remarks
- These records are available on LDS microfilm with this catalogue entry. For microfilm 1866880, Embarkations 1816-1824, the ships’ names have been transcribed on Bob Holland’s Rampais website.
Books and Articles
"Irishmen in the East-India Company Army" by Peter Bailey in Irish Family History-Journal of the Irish Family History Society Volume 17, 2001 page 84
The National Army Museum, London has a card index, mainly in respect of East India Company Army Officers
Wives and children
Marriages between EIC soldiers and Anglo Indians or Native women, the allowances paid to wives and the army records kept regarding these wives are discussed in "Haemoglobin D (B Punjab) in an East Anglian Family", The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 95, No. 2 (Jul. - Dec., 1965), pp. 295-306. The article (including an extract) and its implications are the subject of this archived India List thread. The article may be read online on the subscription website JSTOR. Some card holders of participating libraries may have access, refer Miscellaneous tips. Also available at the British Library
- Presidency Armies Wikipedia
- British East India Company Armies Wikipedia
- Army and Civil Service Wikipedia. Gives strengths of the Presidency armies in 1796, 1806 and 1857.
- This India List thread is about the difference between “Rank in Regiment” and “Rank in Army”
- This India List thread is about the fact that commissions and ranks were not purchased within the East India Company Armies. However one possible exception is mentioned.
- This India List post discusses some of the advantages of joining the East India Company’s Armies, rather than the British Army, as does this further India List post .It lists a number of the various types of Sergeants to be found on the Madras 'Effective Supernumeries' and advises these were positions of significant importance and standing.
- The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth Kansas. Contain a PDF catalogue document for the 7000 PDF documents in the collection. The files relating to India are mainly in respect of location of regiments of the British Army, but there does appear to be some limited information in respect of the location of East India Company Army regiments. For hints about the Finding Aid, see British Army-Locating a regiment
- A helpful website which has closed is regiments.org, here are pages from the archived site at January 2008 An overview of the South Asian Armies page, Alphabetic Index, South Asia page and Numeric index, South Asia page
- The Cadet and Staff Registers of the Sandhurst Collection. The registers show the details for almost every officer cadet that attended the Royal Military Academy Woolwich and Royal Military College Sandhurst, England
- Babes in Arms by Hedley Sutton 13 August 2013 British Library Untold lives blog. 'Minor cadets'. The term relates to a practice which flourished very briefly in India in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when young boys, including babies, were appointed as cadets.
Historical books on-line
- Also see Directories online and Military periodicals online for online Army Lists
- The East India Military Calendar: Containing the Services of General and Field Officers of the Indian Army by John Philippart. Contain the biographies of many officers. Google Books:
- "Diary of Samuel Hickson 1777-1785" in Bengal Past and Present, Volume 49 ,Part 1 1935 is available to read online on the Digital Library of India website, commencing computer page 12. Computer page 13 documents the hardships suffered by new recruits. (Note the website details for this volume record the language as bengali) Refer Online books-Digital Library of India for more details about this site
- Memoirs of the early life and service of a field officer on the retired list of the Indian army by Major David Price 1839 Google Books. Recruitment into the East India Company Army in London in 1780 is mentioned on page 11
- The Presidential Armies of India by Colonel S Rivett-Carnac 1890 Archive.org
- Records of Clan Campbell in the Military Service of the Honourable East India Company 1600-1858 by Sir Duncan Alexander Dundas Campbell 1925 is available through the commercial site Ancestry,co.uk and also is available at the British Library
- Standing Orders of the East India Company's Depot 1852 Google Books
- A catalogue of books relating to the military history of India drawn up by Maurice J.D. Cockle 1901 Archive.org