East India Company Army
The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), 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.
Europeans in Native Regiments
The officers of Native Regiments were European.
Mostly a European soldier would be in a European Regiment. However at times a European soldier could be in a role such as Quartermaster Sergeant in a Native Infantry Regiment. For details of records for these soldiers in a Native Infantry Regiment, refer Unattached List.
1. Fibis Database
- East India Company Army section holds various datasets which include..
- Cadet Records
- Court Martials
- EIC Officers Commissioned as Brevet Captains in the British Army, 1796
- General Orders by Commander-in-Chief
- HEIC Officers given Brevet Rank in the Kings Army
- Madras Artillery
- Medal Roll for the China Campaign, 1842 Madras Artillery & Staff only
- Muster Rolls and Casualty Lists
- Officers of the Bengal Army 1758-1834
- Officers of the Bengal Army Serving at the time of the Batta Mutiny 1766
- Officers Sent to Bengal from Madras during the Batta Mutiny
- Pensions and Funds
- Prize Lists
- Purchased Discharges
- Register of European Soldiers of the Madras Army
- Registers of Bengal Army European Soldiers
- Registers of Bombay Army European Soldiers
- Registers of Recruits
- Soldiers Service Records held at The National Archives
- St Helena Musters
- War Services of Officers of the Bengal Army 1863
- Embarkation Lists of EIC Recruits to India
- The First Soldiers of the EIC Army
- 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'.
- 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.
3. FIBIS Research Guide
Researching ancestors in the East India Company's Armies by Peter Bailey Families in British India Society, 2006. (FIBIS research guide; 1)
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 The British Library’s "Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts" Search by name, or record reference.
British Library’s Help for Researchers: European Officers, now an archived webpage.
Many relevant records have now been digitised, see Findmypast.
- Cadet Papers (1789-1860) and Cadet Registers (1775-1860 IOR/L/MIL/9/107-269. 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 website under the heading of British India Office Records births and baptisms.
- FamilySearch microfilm catalogue entry for these Cadet Papers
- List of Cadets who joined the East India Company Armies 1789-1859 with equivalent FamilySearch/LDS microfilm number. Bob Holland’s Raimpais website, archived.
- The Recruitment of Private Soldiers 1753-1861. IOR/L/MIL/9/1-106 including
- Registers of Recruits 1817-1860. IOR/L/MIL/9/1-28
- FamilySearch digitised microfilm catalogue entry
- Embarkation records
- Military Depots: Depot Embarkation Lists 1824-1860. IOR/L/MIL/9/77-84. 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 1753-1861. IOR/L/MIL/9/85-106. 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
- FamilySearch digitised microfilm catalogue entry, L/MIL/9/77-106
- Note: FamilySearch (LDS) microfilm ordering services has now ceased, however most microfilms have been digitised and are currently available for viewing on a FamilySearch computer at a FamilySearch Centre and generally also at a FamilySearch affiliate library. Locate these records through the FamilySearch catalogue. It is expected that in time all microfilms will be similarly available in this format.
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
- Officers were often of high social status/the Landed Gentry class and genealogical resources relating to this social class may provide Army details.
- Burke’s Peerage 1826–2016 A pay website which states “the definitive guide to the genealogy and heraldry of the Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Landed Gentry of the United Kingdom, the historical families of Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations….”
- Editions of Burke's Peerage are available at major libraries.
- The Peerage. A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain. A free website.
- See Peerage and landed gentry genealogical books online. Publications contain historical information, so later publications will contain information about earlier periods.
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 (Beta 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 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, Combined Arms Research Library [CARL] of the Command and General Staff College, United States Army, 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.
- The Civil and Military Patronage of the East India Company, 1784-1858 by John Michael Bourne 1977 PhD thesis, University of Leicester.
Historical books online
- Also see Directories online and Military periodicals online for online Army Lists
- An Historical Account of the British Army, and of the Law Military, as declared by the ancient and modern Statutes and Articles of War for its Government: with a free commentary on the Mutiny Act, etc by E Samuel 1816. Contents Includes "Troops in the East Indies" page 665. Google Books. British Library Digital version.
- "Indian Army" page 352 Considerations on the state of British India, embracing the subjects of colonization; missionaries; the state of the press; the Nepaul and Mahrattah wars; the civil government; and Indian Army by Lieutenant A. White, of the Bengal Native Infantry. 1822 Hathi Trust Digital Library
- 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:
- Remarks on the Exclusion of Officers of His Majesty's Service from the Staff of the Indian Army, and on the Present State of the European Soldier in India… by a King’s Officer 1825 Google Books
- A collection of facts and documents relative to batta, &c. with other pending questions concerning the Indian Army, compiled from the proceedings of the East India officers A.D. 1793 to 1796, the general orders and other official sources; with short arguments and marginal notes for current use. Calcutta , Samuel Smith and Co. 1829 Google Books
- Inquiry into the state of the Indian Army : with suggestions for its improvement and the establishment of a military police for India by Walter Badenach. Captain, Bengal Army 1826 Google Books
- "Diary of Samuel Hickson 1777-1785" in Bengal Past and Present, Volume 49 ,Part 1 1935, pages 5-54 Archive.org, Digital Library of India Collection. Page 6 documents the hardships suffered by most new recruits on the voyage to India.
- 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
- "Vital Statistics of the East India Company's Armies in India, European and Native" by Lieut.-Colonel W H Sykes Journal of the Statistical Society of London, Volume 10, 1847, pages 100-131. Archive.org
- Ned Fortescue; or, Roughing it through life; a story founded on fact by EW Forrest, late Her Majesty’s Indian Army. 1869 Archive.org. It seems likely that the author arrived in India c 1841 and took part in actions during the 1840s and 1850s, from the Sind Campaign to the Indian Mutiny. Ned meets a recruiting party for the East India Company on page 26
- The Duties of Judge Advocates: Compiled from Her Majesty’s and the Hon. East India Company’s Military Regulations… by Captain R M Hughes 12th Regiment Bombay Army, Deputy Judge Advocate General, Scinde Field Force. 1845 Google Books
- The British Officer: his Position, Duties, Emoluments and Privileges… by J H Stocqueler 1851 Archive.org. Includes "Part VI The East India Company’s Service", from page 260. Contents, Part VI
- Remarks on the Native Troops of the Indian Army by Major John Jacob 1854 Google Books
- Our Indian Army: a Military History of the British Empire in the East by Captain Rafter  Archive.org
- Opinions on the Indian Army : (originally published at Meerut in 1850, under the title of "Musings on military matters.") by Colonel John Studholme Hodgson Bengal Army. Brigadier, late Commanding the Punjab Irregular Force 1857 Google Books
- Observations on a Scheme for the Re-organization of the Indian Army by Brigadier-General John Jacob 1857 Google Books
- Replies by Brig. Genl. John Jacob, C.B., &c. &c. to questions regarding the reorganisation of the Indian Army 1858 Hathi Trust Digital Library
- 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 1660-1858 by Sir Duncan Campbell, (London 1925) Hathi Trust Digital Library.
- Calculation Tables of Pay and Indian Allowances ... of European Commissioned Officers of all arms, of Her Majesty’s and the Hon’ble Company’s Service in the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay etc by R Alexander Kerr, Head Assistant Presidency and Queen’s Troops’ Pay Office. Calcutta 1847 Google Books
- Standing Orders of the East India Company's Depot 1852 Google Books
- Amalgamation of the Indian Army with her Majesty's Service. [Extracted verbatim from the Calcutta Government Gazette] 1861 Google Books
- A catalogue of books relating to the military history of India drawn up by Maurice J.D. Cockle 1901 Archive.org
- The Decisive Battles of India : from 1746 to 1849 inclusive by Colonel GB Malleson Fourth Edition, New, 1914, first published 1883. With maps. 2nd edition 1885 Darker text, but lacks some maps. Archive.org.
- Light and shade in bygone India: a study of the soldier in India at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries by Lt. Col. L. H. Thornton 1927. Bibliography page 341. Archive.org.
- Vignettes From Indian Wars by Lieut-General Sir George MacMunn, Colonel Commandant Royal Artillery 1932 Archive.org, Digital Library of India Collection.
- The Young Cadet, or, Henry Delamere's Voyage to India : with his travels in Hindostan, and his account of the Burmese War and the wonders of Elora by Mrs Hofland, 1831 Archive.org. Note: Missing final 2 pages (from another digital file). Describes the family background of a young Cadet, and the patronage which led to his appointment.
- Email from Peter Bailey to Maureen Evers dated 10 April 2014
- Calcutta Historical Society Bengal Past and Present, Volume 49, Part 1 "Diary of Samuel Hickson 1777-1785" pages 28-30. Published 1935. Archive.org
- Cutts, Melanie. "Siege of Cawnpore 1857", Rootsweb India Message Board, 17 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Christie, Thomas. "Rank in regiment; rank in army.", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 30 Aug 2009, archived.
- Bender, Tim. "East India Company Army Purchase of Commissions.", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 2 Dec 2009, archived.
- Bailey, Peter "Bazaar Sergeant", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 2 Apr 2000, archived.
- Fuller, Tony. "Prisons", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 12 Dec 1998, archived.
- Macdonnell, Ian. "MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ...Allowance for Eurasianwives", Rootsweb India Mailing List, 21 Jan 2010, archived. Scroll down.