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Courts Martial could be General Courts Martial held for major offences or Regimental Courts Martial conducted by a commanding officer when offences were more minor. Commissioned officers were always subject to General Courts Martial.


For Bengal, you can probably obtain a summary of the Court Martial proceedings in the General Orders by C-in-C Bengal in the IOR/L/MIL/17/2/269-352 1820-1903 series at the British Library, and similarly for the other Presidencies (Unfortunately, these have not been microfilmed):
IOR/L/MIL/17/3/412-456 Madras General Orders by the Commander-in-Chief 1818-1895, (note, current typo error in catalogue entry) and possibly
IOR/L/MIL/17/3/481-489 1896-1904 Madras Command Orders 1896-1904
IOR/L/MIL/17/4/467-501 Bombay General Orders by the Commander-in-Chief 1860-1895, and possibly IOR/L/MIL/17/4/502-511 Bombay Command and Western Command Orders 1895-1904.

British Army Records of Courts Martial are held at The National Archives.

  • For full details of Courts Martial and reports relating to General Courts Martial see the online research guide produced by the National Archives, Courts martial and desertion in the British Army 17th-20th centuries (Military Records Information 22)
    • WO 88 1878-1945 Judge Advocate General's Office: District Courts Martial Registers, India. This series comprises registers of district courts martial in India from the Judge Advocate General's Office. These district courts martial tried only non-commissioned officers and other ranks. The registers of charges give, in tabulated form, the name, rank and regiment of each prisoner, place of trial, nature of the charge and sentence. The registers cover the period 1878 to the end of the Second World War, with some twentieth century gaps.
    • WO 90 1779-1960. Judge Advocate General's Office: General Courts Martial Registers, Abroad. The registers of charges give, in tabulated form, the name, rank and regiment of each prisoner, place of trial, nature of the charge and sentence, and cover trials of both officers and other ranks
  • (There are no similar records for minor offences handled by regimental courts martial – but mention of these may be found on a soldier’s record of service).

Details of Courts-Martial in India may also be found in annual directories such as The Asiatic Journal and Allen's Indian Mail. It is, therefore, recommended that a search also be made at Fibis Library or in any of the India related Newspapers and journals online

FIBIS resources

  • General Orders by the Commander-in-Chief - transcriptions of 521 Court Martial proceedings in Madras (from L/MIL/17/3) that took place in the 1820s, 30s and 40s.
  • FIBIS Journal 10, Autumn 2003 "Courts Martial in John Company's India and their help to the Genealogist".

See also

External links

Court Martial Records from the 1840s King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
  • Audio: 1980 Interview Lt Col R. Banks, with transcript Indian Army life and career 1914-c 1937 Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. Initially he was with the 15th Sikhs, then joined the Judge Advocate General’s Department, part of the Indian Army dealing with court martial work, military law and any uprisings, and subsequently officiated as Judge Advocate General in India, until he was medically retired in 1937 (rabies related). His experience with riots resulted in an appointment to Palestine c 1938-39.

Historical books online

Manual of Military Law. War Office, 1914. Reprinted 1917, HMSO. Hathi Trust Digital Library. Contents, Index