The East India Company Maritime Services could be divided into three main categories:
- EIC Mercantile Marine. The Mercantile Marine was the principal merchant shipping service supporting the company's trade with India and the Far East. It was in operation from 1600 to 1834.
- Bombay Marine. The Bombay Marine was the fighting navy of the EIC. In the later nineteenth century and twentieth century it was renamed several times, ultimately becoming the Royal Indian Navy in 1935.
- Bengal Marine. The best known part was the Bengal Pilot Service which was responsible for guiding shipping along the Hooghly River between Calcutta and the Bay of Bengal. The river could only be navigated by day on account of the many dangerous banks and shoals. Bengal Marine also included War Steamers, also called Sea Steamers, which were ships fitted with guns, and river boats which were used to transport troops and other passengers, and cargo. In (at least) the 1840s-1850s the river boats were part of Inland Steam, or the Inland Steam Service and were described as Iron Steam Vessels appropriated to Inland Navigation, consisting of Steamers, Accomodation Boats and Cargo Boats. It seems likely that once private riverboat companies were established they took over the services of Inland Steam.
In 1877 the Bombay Marine and the Bengal Marine were combined to form HM Indian Marine, which became the Royal Indian Marine in 1892 and the Royal Indian Navy in 1935.
FIBIS Research Guide No. 2 An Introduction to British Ships in Indian Waters : Their Owners, Crew and Passengers by Richard Morgan with a Foreword by Lawrie Butler, 68 pages, published 2012, with Bibliography and Index
- Part I – the East India Company’s Maritime Service
- Part II – Country Ships
- Part III – A note on Interlopers
- Part IV – The Marine Service
- Part V – Independently owned commercial (steam) Ships
- Appendix 1: Summary of information on Free Mariners and Passengers in Directories
- Appendix 2: The Indian Marine Service in the IOR L/F/10 and other Series.
Available from the FIBIS Shop
For updates to the first edition, see British Ships in Indian Waters.
"HEIC Maritime Holdings at the National Maritime Museum", an article by Geraldine Charles, can be found in the FIBIS Journal.
- "Part 1" FIBIS Journal Number 4 (Autumn 2000)
- "Part 2" FIBIS Journal Number 6 (Autumn 2001)
"Gahan, Eaton & Co" by Nigel Penny FIBIS Journal Number 21 (Spring 2009) pages 11-19. A family history of sea Captains, Master Attendants and Merchants.
"Wrecked or Captured, the East India Company Ships that Failed to Arrive", a fascinating talk given by Andrea Cordani, writer and researcher on East India Company Ships, at FIBIS's Spring lecture meeting in May 2009, is available on FIBIS youtube channel. The presentation that accompanied this talk and a book list for further reading can be found in the FIBIS Social Network
An edited edition of this talk is available in FIBIS Journal, No 22 (Autumn 2009), page 15. This edition also contains an article "The Loss of an East Indiaman in 1807 : account by Samuel Rolleston" on page 23. For details of how to access these articles, see FIBIS Journals.
The FIBIS Database has
- a category Maritime including
- Bombay Marine-Indian Army Provides details of Officers, Ships, etc. of the Bombay Marine (1613-1830). In 1830 it was re-named the Indian Navy. This was abolished in 1863 and re-placed by a non-combatant Bombay Marine
- a category Military records: Pensions and Funds including
- a category Miscellaneous including
- Lists of Free Merchants, Seafaring Men and Other Inhabitants of Bombay and Surrounds 1720-1780. Some data is restricted to logged in FIBIS members.
Records at the British Library
- IOR/L/MAR Marine Department Records.
- There are three main series: L/MAR/A Ships' Journals 1605-1705; L/MAR/B Ships' Journals 1702-1856; L/MAR/C Marine Miscellaneous Records 1600-1879.
- The British Library IOR Maritime Service page.
- Read about Ships' Journals IOR/L/MAR/A-B 1605-1856. The various ships are listed alphabetically, following the order in Catalogue of East India Company Ships' Journals and Logs 1600-1834 by Anthony J.Farrington (London, 1999).
Browse the ships’ names (Discovery catalogue). Alternatively, use the ship's name in The British Library’s "Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts".
- Read about Ships' Journals IOR/L/MAR/A-B 1605-1856. The various ships are listed alphabetically, following the order in Catalogue of East India Company Ships' Journals and Logs 1600-1834 by Anthony J.Farrington (London, 1999).
- Also see Ships' Journals.
- A description of Marine Miscellaneous Records IOR/L/MAR/C 1600-1879.(Discovery) "The collection is in process of re-arrangement and listing in separate series L/MAR/1-9 according to type and provenance". Included in these records are "personnel records of the Company's maritime service (at all levels of employment, but including particularly the appointment and services of commanders and mates of East Indiamen), the Bombay Marine, the Indian Navy, and the Bengal Pilot Service" but no further details are given.
British Library records on findmypast
The India Office Records on the pay site findmypast are
- IOR/L/MAR/C/688 Lists of appointments to Bombay Marine and Pilot Service, 1822-1832.
- IOR/L/MAR/C/710-714 Volunteers (cadets) for the Indian Navy, 1838-1859
- IOR/L/MAR/C/785-788 Poplar pensioners, with particulars, 1809-1821
- IOR/L/MAR/C/789-840 Poplar: petitions with certificates and other documents attached for pensions, compensations etc, 1809-1838
British Library records on FamilySearch (LDS) microfilms
For microfilms available in the LDS (Mormon) library catalogue, see IOR Marine records on LDS films or search the FamilySearch Library Catalogue using keywords India Office Marine Department. (Ordering microfilms)
- Note: Microfilm ordering services ceases 31 August 2017, however selected microfilms have been digitised and are currently available for viewing on a FamilySearch computer at a FamilySearch Centre. Locate these records through the FamilySearch catalogue. It is expected that in time all microfilms will be similarly available in this format.
See also, Ships and sailing reading list.
A biographical index of East India Company Maritime Service officers, 1600-1834, by Anthony Farrington London: British Library, 1999
A companion volume to the "Catalogue", see below, the biographical index provides summaries of the sea careers of some 12,000 individuals who made the voyage to Asia as commanders, mates, surgeons, or pursers in the service of the EIC. The information has been compiled from the surviving ships' journals, logs, paying-off books and associated sources in the Company's archives at the British Library. Available at the British Library.
Malim Sahib's Hindustani
A Malim Sahib was a ship’s officer. There was a specialised nautical, bazaar baht or bat, vocabulary spoken by Indian crews. A dictionary was published in 1920, The Malim Sahib's Hindustani , which became a required text book for all Cadets, Officers, Radio Officers and Engineers, on joining the British India Steam Navigation Company. The language was a mixture of Hindustani-Gujarati-Marathi-Konkani (Ratnagiri), a little Urdu..... a pot pourri of words, but simple and effective. The vocabulary was considered similar to a dialect, in that a European who had learnt this vocabulary was said to speak Malim Sahib's (Sahibs) Hindustani.
The officers' titles were: Captain - Captain sahib; C/O - Burra malim sahib; 2/O - Majla Malim sahib; 3/O - Sajla Malim sahib; 4/O - or other Junior - Chota malim sahib.
- East India Company Ships developed by Andrea Cordani, but she is no longer updating the website, which now has a new URL. Includes Ship roles - what do they mean? A glossary of Ship roles defining terms such as 'Regular Ship' , 'Extra Ship' and 'Country Ship.' The previous site is now archived.
- East-India Company ship routes 1798-1834 by Philip Brohan. Video. Vimeo.com. Retrieved 16 October 2014.The dates of the voyages are shown in the bottom left hand corner of the video screen, and may at times be obscured by the toolbar. Move the computer's mouse from the toolbar to below the video screen to reveal. The video indicates the seasonal variations in the ships' voyages.
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
- National Maritime Museum Research Guides
- Maritime Memorials in respect of ships’ crews’ deaths. Search for entries for India, Burma, Burmah and Myanmar, Ceylon and Sri Lanka, and other countries such as China, Singapore etc. (Entries for Karachi were classified as India)., or search by name. An associated National Maritime Museum website.
- Crew Lists of the British Merchant Navy-1915 National Maritime Museum. The crews originated from all over the world and on some vessels the British nationals were in a minority
- See the Fibiwiki page Ireland for Irish Crew Lists 1863-1921. Crews could originate from all over the world.
- British Maritime History - Realistic genealogical guides to surviving records and more, Len Barnett’s site, has sections on:
- East India Company Mariners including information on the Society of East India Commanders and a list of Commanders from 1828 from Mariners - Researching the mariners and ships of the merchant marine and the world's navies. This website also contains the Mariners Mailing List, Search the Mariners Mailing List Archives; Index of Ships' Official Numbers below 99,999, Official Numbers: Ships over 300 g.t. built 1876 – 1949
- Merchant Vessels in the Service of the East India Company, 1601-1832 on the Mariners website. Lists ship details.
- Maritime Resources 'Articles of Agreement' by Chris Woods dated 30 August 2013
- The loss of the East Indiaman ‘Ganges’ [in 1807] 15 June 2017. British Library untold lives blog.
- A Journal of a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope and Bombay in the Ship Sesostris by James Smith, 1829-1831
- Arthur David Linklater, Master Mariner - Duncan Linklater's excellent site contains information on shipping and navigation in the early twentieth century, including details of Linklater's employment by the British India Steam Navigation Company, the Royal Naval Reserve and the Calcutta Port Commission. It is located in the section of the Quivis site called Dum. With scans and transcripts of original documents and many pages containing facts useful to those with an ancestor in sailing and shipping, exploring the site is recommended (note also the biographical section contents page).
- Chapter 24: "Working Along Mighty Rivers of the East" from his autobiography Lest I Forget by Khwaja Sayeed Shahabuddin (born 1923). Mentions the "India General Navigation Company Limited (an English company) and River Steamers Navigation Company Limited (a Scottish company). Originally competitors, they later merged to become known as the Joint Steamer Companies and together played a vital role in the development of inland water transport in Bengal and Assam.” The author joined I.G.N. Company, the British Inland Water Transport Company, in 1947. Chapter 26: "Working with the Joint Steamer Companies"
- A Short History of British India Steam Navigation 1856-1956 from B I Ship. Contains details of the establishment of The Calcutta & Burmah Steam Navigation Co Ltd which became the British India Steam Navigation Co.
- British India Steam Navigation Company from the Ships’ List.
- A History of the British India Steam Navigation Company Limited, rakaia.co.uk, now archived. Includes a list of ships, with details.
- ‘Chota Sahib’ by Captain John de Barr. The Coast Men of British India’s fleet. In BI the Coast referred to the Coast of India. merchantnavyofficers.com, now archived.
- P&O Heritage includes History of Shipping Companies such British India Steam Navigation Company (‘History’ tab); Research Guides and Ship Images and Fact Sheets ( ‘Archive’ tab)
- Asiatic Steam Navigation Company from the Ships’ List.
- The occupation of Master Attendant, equivalent to Harbour Master. Initially it appears these men were part of EIC Marine, and later the Royal Indian Marine
- History of Development of Maritime Regulations/Acts and Changing body of Controlling Authorities Mercantile Marine Department, Mumbai
- "Troopships and Trooping" Transcript of an article from Shipping Wonders of the World, part 39, published 3 November 1936. Includes troopships to India.
- Troopships and Trooping by R G Robertson movcon.org.uk, now archived, archive.is. Includes mention of troopships to India. Archive.org link.
- The trooping season between India and the United Kingdom lasted for about seven months each year. The gap, April-October/November in India was the same each year – to avoid the worst of the heat in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
- Lascars Maritime History Archive.
Historical books online
- "Return to an order of the Honourable House of Commons, dated 26 June 1833 for: Lists of all pensions granted by the Company to Commanders, Officers, Seamen, Widows and Orphans, of the East India Company’s Commercial Marine Service. since the year 1793 to the present time; specifying the grounds upon which such pension was granted, the amount of each, and the source whence the pensions are derived". House of Commons Accounts and Papers: Session 29 January-29 August 1833 Volume XXVI Google Books
- Journal or Narrative of the Boscawen's Voyage to Bombay 1749, by a young gentleman Google Books
- Journal of a Voyage Performed in the Lion Extra Indiaman, from Madras to Columbo and Da Lagoa Bay ... in the Year 1798 by William White, Captain, 73rd Highland Regiment of Foot. 1800 Google Books
- A Register of Ships, Employed in the Service of the Honorable the United East India Company 1760-1810 by Charles Hardy and Horatio Charles Hardy 1811 Google Books
- A Master Mariner. Being the Life and Adventures of Captain Robert William Eastwick edited by Herbert Compton. 1891 Archive.org. Captain Eastwick was born 1772. He arrived in Bombay in June 1792 and shortly afterwards joined a ship engaged in the 'country trade', and later owned his own ships. He last sailed c 1825 and wrote his autobiography c 1836.
- "Extracts from the Journals of Thomas Addison of the East India Company’s Service 1801-1829" page 333 The Naval Miscellany, Volume I. Publications of the Navy Records Society, Volume XX 1902 Archive.org.
- Narrative of a Late Steam Voyage from England to India via the Mediteranean. (Part II. Account of a Late Palankeen Trip from Bombay to Mhow and Lahore) by Captain T Seymour Burt 1840. British Library Digital Collection. The voyage took place from October 1837. via Suez.
- The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle. A Journal of Papers on Subjects Connected with Maritime Affairs. Google Books. Some editions have Contents pages at the front of the book, and some have an Index at the back. There may be other digital editions available if the text is unclear. Contain articles relevant to India, and the seas around India.
- Vol.1 1832, Vol.2 1833, Vol.3 1834, Vol.4 1835, Vol.5 1836, Vol.6 1837, Vol.7 1838, Vol.8 1839, Vol.9 1840
- Vol.10 1841, Vol.11 1842, Vol.12 1843, Vol.14 1845, Vol.16 1847, Vol.17 1848, Vol.18 1849, Vol.19 1850
- Vol.20 1851, Vol.21 1852, Vol.22 1853, Vol.23 1854, Vol.24 1855, Vol.25 1856, Vol.26 1857, Vol.27 1858, Vol.28 1859, Vol.29 1860
- Vol.30 1861, Vol.31 1862, Vol.32 1863, Vol.33 1864, Vol.34 1865, Vol.35 1866, Vol.36 1867, Vol.37 1868, Vol.38 1869, Vol.39 1870
- Vol.40 1871, Vol.41 1872, Vol.42 1873, Vol.43 1874, Vol.44 1875, Vol.45 1876, Vol.50 1881 Archive.org
- HathiTrust Digital Library editions, including editions only accessible in some regions such as North America.
- Volume I, Part II The Bengal and Agra Annual Guide and Gazetteer for 1842 Google Books
- "On the Advantages of Extending Inland Steam Navigation in India" page 381 The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 1843. Mentions steam boats "belonging to the Bengal Government"
- "Appendix in respect of War Steamers, also called Sea Steamers, belonging to the Presidency of Bengal, for a ten year period from 1841" page 390 First Report from the Select Committee on Indian Territories May 1853 Google Books. Same page 390, Hathi Trust where the pages may be rotated.
- The Golden Dagon, or, Up and Down the Irrawaddi: being Passages of Adventure in the Burman Empire by John Williamson Palmer 1856 Google Books. The author was an American doctor, appointed, in Hong Kong, surgeon on the EIC war steamer Phlegethon (Bengal Marine) which took part in the 2nd Burma War, 1852-1853
- Narrative of the burning of the "Sarah Sands" screw steam ship by an old 54th officer. [Frederick Schlotel] 1869. Google Books. 1870 edition Google Books. Full title and some text appear to differ. A vessel charted by the East India Company, for the conveyance of troops to Calcutta on the news of the Indian Mutiny reaching England, which sailed from Portsmouth on 15 August 1857.
- There is a brief mention of the river boats sent from India to China in the war of 1860 on page 55 The British Arms in North China and Japan: Peking 1860; Kagosima 1862 by D.F. Rennie MD, Senior Medical Officer of the Force in the North of China 1864 Google Books
- "Marine Report" page 92 Annual Report on Administration of the Bengal Presidency, 1860-61 Google Books
- Commerce by river in the Punjab (1861-62 to 1871-72) or a Survey of the Marine Department of the Government of the Punjab by Faqir Chand Arrora 1930. GIPE Pune
- On the preservation of the health of seamen, especially of those frequenting Calcutta and the other Indian ports by Norman Chevers MD, Surgeon, Bengal Army 1864 Google Books
- The Old 'Country Trade' of the East Indies by William Herbert Coates, Comm. R N R (retired) 1911 Archive.org
- The Old East Indiamen by E. Keble Chatterton, 1914 Archive.org
- East Indiamen: The East India Company’s Maritime Service by Sir Evan Cotton. Edited by Sir C. G. H. Fawcett. 1949. Pdf download, Digital Library of India. Archive.org mirror version.
- Merchant Adventurers, 1914-1918 by F. A. Hook 1920 Archive.org. A "compilation of the war records of the P. and O., British India and associated lines." Unfortunately the file is lacking the illustrations which should be in the book. British Library digital file, with illustrations. A different digital file: Pdf download, Digital Library of India.
- The Blackwall Frigates by Basil Lubbock 1922 Archive.org. The Blackwall frigates formed a link betrween the the East Indiaman of the Honourable East India Company and the P&O and Orient liners
- Reminiscences of a Blackwall Midshipman by W I Downie 1912 Archive.org. Page 100 commences a section on India and Indian waters. The author was born c 1848 , so was probably writing of the 1860s
- Chapter III: "History and Reasons for Decline of Gangetic Navigation" page 27 Inland Navigation On The Gangetic Rivers by J Johnston, ICS 1947 Archive.org
- Directories etc
- Sailing Directions for the Oriental Or East-India Pilot 1778 Google Books
- A New Nautical Directory for the East-India and China Navigation 7th edition 1804 Google Books
- The India Directory: or, Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, China, Australia, and the Interjacent Ports of Africa and South America by James Horsburgh Sixth Edition 1852 Google Books Volume 1, Volume 2
- Navigation of the Indian Ocean, China and Australian Seas: With an Account of the Winds, Weather, and Currents Found Therein Throughout the Year : According to the Most Approved Authorities, Including Extensive Extracts from the Nautical Magazine by A B Becher, Captain R N, of the Hydrographis Office, Admiralty. 3rd edition 1864 Google Books
- Practical sailing directions and coasting guide from the Sand Heads to Rangoon, Maulmain, Akyab, and vice versa. To which is added, Directions for the entire Bay of Bengal and Straits of Malacca by N Heckford Sixth Edition, Enlarged and Improved 1871 Google Books
- A Handbook of Directions to the Ports in the Presidency of Madras and Ceylon by T. E. Marshall, First Assistant Master Attendant, Madras. 1874. British Library Digital Collection.
- A Handbook to the Ports on the Coast of India between Calcutta and Bombay, including the Island of Ceylon by Herbert Samuel Brown, Lieutenant, R.N.R., Port and Customs Officer, Mangalore. 1897. British Library Digital Collection.
- The China Sea Directory by the Hydrographic Office, Admiralty, London.
- The China Sea Directory Volume I. Containing directions for the approaches to the China Sea and to Singapore, by the straits of Sunda, Banka, Gaspar, Carimata, Rhio, Varella, Durian, and Singapore by J. W. Reed , R N and J. W. King, R N. 1867 Google Books. 3rd edition 1886 Archive.org.
- The China Sea Directory Volume I Supplement ... Directions for Malacca Strait. Compiled by Staff Commander John Cumins Richards Hydrographic Office, Admiralty 1876. British Library Digital Collection.
- The China Sea Directory Volume II. Containing directions for the navigation of the China Sea, between Singapore and Hong Kong by J. W. Reed , R N and J. W. King, R N. 1868. British Library Digital Collection.
- China Sea Directory Volume III. The Coasts of China from Hong Kong to the Korea etc Edited by Captain Charles J Bulloch, RN. 1874 Archive.org. 2nd edition 1884 Archive.org
- China Sea Directory Volume IV. Japan Islands etc by F W Jarrad, R N.1873 Archive.org. 2nd edition 1884 Archive.org
- A Directory for the Navigation of the Indian Archipelago, China, and Japan, from the straits of Malacca and Sunda, and the passages east of Java. To Canton, Shanghai, the Yellow Sea, and Japan, with descriptions of the winds, monsoons, and currents, and general instructions for the various channels, harbours, etc by Alexander George Findlay 2nd edition 1878 Archive.org.
- Seamen's Manuals, Seamanship, Signals etc
- Signals and instructions, 1776-1794 with Addenda to Volume XXIX edited by Julian S Corbett. Publications of the Navy Records Society, Volume XXXV, 1908. Archive.org
- The Seaman's Manual : containing a treatise on practical seamanship, a dictionary of sea terms, customs and usages of the merchant service, laws relating to the practical duties of master and mariners by R H Dana 1841 Archive.org
- Alphabetical code of signals for the use of Government pilot, surveying, light, buoy and other vessels, telegraph stations, etc by C W Warden 2nd edition 1868. Printed at Calcutta. Archive.org
- A Manual of Elementary Seamanship by Commander D Wilson-Baker RNR 1896 edition, 5th edition revised, 1910. Archive.org
- Reed's Seamanship. Compiled for candidates preparing to pass the Marine Board examinations for certificates of competency as mates and masters. With ... diagrams Revised and enlarged by C M Swainston 22nd edition 1918. Published Sunderland [North-East England]. Archive.org.
- Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service by Felix Riesenberg 1922, published in New York. Archive.org. With illustrations. For ease of reading the text online, select the one page option. Digitised microfilm.
- Henry Alfred Coggan’s Diary 1865. London to Calcutta. The author, aged 19, worked his passage to India as a crew member on board the Staffordshire.
- Woods, Chris. American English & Malim Sahib's Hindustani Rootsweb India-British-Raj Mailing List 11 September 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2017. The Malim Sahib's Hindustani: for use both ashore and afloat in connection with Lascars and all other low-caste natives of India who speak the bazaar "bat” by C T Willson, Bombay Pilot Service. “For ship's officers who wish to acquire a working knowledge of low Hindustani spoken by native crews, coolies, servants and longstoreman generally. All nautical terms and words in common use both ashore and afloat are included."
- Feltham, John. Sea Cunny Rootsweb India Mailing List 24 October 2002. Retrieved 4 December 2015
- "The Maalim Saabs Hindustani" Part 1, Part 2 Mariner’s Nostalgia website. Mandatory for British Officers on B I Ships.
- Some entries are listed in the India List post Maritime cemetery entries from National Maritime Museum website. The correct Notes and Queries reference for the Karachi burials mentioned is either Vol 170/171 1936 or Vol 176 1939.
- India-British-Raj List post Maritime Resources 'Articles of Agreement' by Chris Woods dated 30 August 2013
- India List thread