Anglo Indian

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Definition of Anglo-Indian

Section 366 of the Constitution of India (1950) states

“"An Anglo-Indian means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent, but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only."

This definition is a constitutional one and makes no reference to female ancestry. It has been argued as being somewhat limited and it is not unusual for those with such European descent lying in the female line to regard their ancestress as Anglo Indian for genealogical purposes.

The term Anglo Indian meaning a person of mixed race heritage was used in the Schedules of the 1911 Census,[1] and from that time became the accepted term. Prior to that terms such as Eurasian, East-Indian, Indo-Briton, Country-Born, and 'Blue-skin' were used.[2]


The only way a British man could marry legally in India was for both bride and groom to be Christian, and to marry in a Christian church ceremony. In some cases a European groom became a Moslem, and married in a Moslem ceremony. However, in terms of British law, he was not considered to be married.

Prior to about 1815, there were many mixed race marriages between British soldiers and Indian, or Indo-Portuguese women. However the opinion in Britain was strongly against such mixed marriage, and a soldier with an Indian wife could not return to Britain with her.

By the period 1816-1820 there were more European women in India. By 1820 it had become socially unacceptable for any officer or official to marry an Indian.

Almost as bigger barrier to intermarriage was the Indian attitude. Any Hindu women who went with a British man lost caste immediately. She was cast out of her family and village. Consequently only those at the bottom of Indian society could ever see a British soldier as a advantageous marriage candidate.[3] However, for those with financial resources, it appears that it may have been possible to regain caste, as one will specifies an amount "for the purpose of restoring to her her cast".[4]. On the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts prior to c 1820, it is suspected that the intermarriages may have included some high caste Hindus.[5]

FIBIS Fact Files No 1

Researching Anglo-Indian Ancestry 2009 21pp.
Essential for any family historian with blended ethnicity. The booklet contains two expanded and updated articles previously published in the FIBIS Journal: "The children of John Company : the Anglo-Indians" by Geraldine Charles, and "A Luso-Indian voyage" by Cliff Pereira. These two authorities provide invaluable information: definitions of the various terms used for those of mixed race in the Indian sub-continent, a brief background history of these communities, reading lists, and, by using their own families as a basis, a demonstration of how to effectively research Anglo-Indian ancestors.
Available from the FIBIS Shop.

Recommended reading

  • Bear, Laura Lines of the Nation (New York: Columbia, 2007) [essential but uncomfortable reading for Anglo-Indians with railway roots].
  • See also list of titles under the “Anglo-Indians” section of FIBIS Society Reading List

External links

"Experience of Living in a Railway Colony in Allahabad" by Esther Mary Lyons, now archived.

Historical books online

  • "The East Indian Community" Calcutta Review, Volume 11 January-June 1849. (Google Books)
  • "Eurasians of Madras and Malabar" by Edgar Thurston pages 69-114 Madras Government Museum Bulletin Vol II, No 2 1898
  • The Queen's Daughters in India by Elizabeth W. Andrew and Katharine C. Bushnell 1899 Investigation and Report by two American missionaries into the government sanctioned brothels in British Army cantonments, set up under the Cantonment Act 1864. Page 52 states that many of the prostitutes were the offspring of British men
  • "The Eurasian Problem in India" by A Nundy, Barrister-at Law page 56 The Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review and Oriental and Colonial Record New Series Volume IX January-April 1900
  • The Domiciled European and Anglo-Indian Race of India by Millicent Boddington Wilson. However, the British Library catalogue states "the 3rd ed. (1929?) states that although earlier editions were published in the name of M.B. Wilson, the book was actually written by her brother J.B. Smart". The 1928 edition is available version, mirror from Digital Library of India.
  • Britain’s Betrayal In India: The Story of the Anglo-Indian Community by Frank Anthony 1960. version, mirror from Digital Library of India.


  1. “Anglo-Indian” page 81 ‪People of India: Maharashtra, Part 1‬ by B. V. Bhanu Google Books
  2. Murphy, Sylvia. The East Indian Community near Vasai and Mumbai Scroll down. Rootsweb India Mailing List, 7 March 2010, now archived.
  3. Balmer, Nick. Anglo-Indians and the established churches Rootsweb India Mailing List 9 March 2008, now archived.
  4. Murphy, Sylvia. Loss of Cast Rootsweb India Mailing List 14 November 2008, now archived.
  5. Balmer, Nicholas. India Princess Rootsweb India Mailing List 8 February 2007, now archived.