East India Company Army
- 1 Overview
- 2 Recruitment and conditions
- 3 FIBIS resources
- 4 Records
- 5 The difference between rank in the Regiment and rank in the Army
- 6 Advantages of joining an EIC Army compared with the British Army
- 7 Wives and children
- 8 See also
- 9 External Links
- 10 References
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:
Recruitment and conditions
According to statistical analysis of the Depot Lists and Embarkation Lists of recruits going to India by FIBIS Chairman, Peter Bailey, six percent of soldiers were consistently recruited as married. One of his ancestors joined the EIC Army at nearly the same time that his daughter was born and was sent to India several weeks later with his wife and new-born baby c mid 1820s. Although the East India Company provided a passage back to Britain for soldiers at the expiration of their term of service  it appears that very few elected to return. Samuel Hickson, who was in India 1777-1785, lists the reasons for this in his Diary as disease, the good provisions made by the Company relating to age and incapacity, the bounty paid on renewal of service and family ties.
- 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
- FIBIS Journals - Available to view free by members only in the FIBIS database website or can be purchased online in the FIBIS Shop.
- Number 6 (Autumn 2001) Monthly Military Musters - Part 1 by Peter Bailey. Contains information about the women and children classified according to 'European' or 'East Indian', for the same regiment as Part 2.
- Number 7 (Spring 2002) Monthly Military Musters - Part 2 by Peter Bailey. About the officers and soldiers. Contains a copy of the muster taken for ‘A’ or Captain J. Cramer’s Company, Madras European Infantry which was stationed at Bangalore on 1st January 1841.
- Number 17 (Spring 2007) Looking for Gunner Hurley in India - Part 1 by Malcolm Hurley Mills and Lawrie Butler.
- Number 22 (Autumn 2009) Looking for Gunner Hurley in India - Part 2 by Malcolm Hurley Mills and Lawrie Butler.
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. Many of these records have now been digitised and held on the findmypast websiteunder the heading of British India Office Records births and baptisms.
- 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
The difference between rank in the Regiment and rank in the Army
All officers held dual rank, that is, rank in their regiment and rank in the Army. Their rank in their regiment dictated what they did on a day-to-day basis. The HEIC regiments did not have the purchase system [for rank in the regiment] but based promotions on seniority within the regiment which was one reason why the timing of an officer's rank within the regiment was important. When an officer held a rank in the Army for a period longer than his rank in his regiment this was probably due to him not having actually been posted to his regiment for a period when he was first commissioned
Although there was no official purchase system, there was an informal system within the HEIC Army whereby the lower rank officers provided a monetary incentive for a senior officer to retire so that all junior officers could move up a step, but it was not an actual purchase of rank
Advantages of joining an EIC Army compared with the British Army
For a soldier
The army took responsibility for many civil and social activities in the country, particularly in the vicinity of the cantonments. These responsibilities were undertaken by Warrant Officers generally acting through Sergeants of differing titles. These were positions of significant importance and standing and the chance to attain them was one of the attractions of joining the Company's army rather than the King's/Queen's army. Many NCOs were able to take on other work and attract an extra income. By doing so, they could frequently buy themselves out of their units, could earn more money and qualify for a pension much sooner.
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 2nd Madras (European) Light Infantry is particularly mentioned as marriage registers were (in 1965) available for the period 1840-1863 showing the race of the bride. The article may be read online on the subscription website JSTOR for free, but first you must register. Some card holders of participating libraries may also have access, refer Miscellaneous tips for more about both options. 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.
- 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
- Email from Peter Bailey to Maureen Evers dated 10 April 2014
- "Diary of Samuel Hickson 1777-1785" in Bengal Past and Present, Volume 49, Part 1 1935, pages 28-30 (computer pages 35-37) which is available to read online on the Digital Library of India website.
- Rootsweb India List reply Rank in regiment; rank in army by Tim 30 August 2009 (retrieved 14 April 2014)
- Rootsweb India List reply East India Company Army Purchase of Commissions by Tim B 2 Dec 2009 (retrieved 14 April 2014)
- Rootsweb India List post Bazaar Sergeant by Peter Bailey 2 Apr 2000 (retrieved 14 April 2014)
- Rootsweb India List post Prisons by Tony Fuller 12 Dec 1998 (retrieved 14 April 2014)
- Macdonnell, Ian. "MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ...Allowance for Eurasianwives.", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 21 Jan 2010. Retrieved on 11 April 2014.