This article details connections between British India and Scotland.
A considerable number of Scots served in British India, a far greater number than would be expected based on the percentage of the Scottish population in Great Britain. See External links below, for a podcast which explains the historical background.
Early Regimental Influence
A number of Scottish regiments were serving in India by the late eighteenth century – for example the 42nd , 72nd, 73rd, 74th, 75th, 76th, 77th and 78th Regiments of Foot were all Highland Regiments recorded as being in India well before 1800.
The influence of the Scottish Church in India was felt in Bombay as early as 1820 and soon spread to other areas. Many churches and cemeteries in India evidence a strong Scottish presence. For example, Church of Scotland Burials in Assam.
Scotsmen formed the backbone of many industries and, in particular, those associated with planting – eg . Jute, Indigo and Tea. In fact, it was a Scotsman, Robert Bruce, who discovered the first tea in Assam in 1823.
Useful Databases Online
If your ancestors went out to India from Scotland then there are many online resources to assist in tracing background. Some of these are mentioned below:-
- The Scots Overseas a referenced list of men and women who emigrated or adventured to British India compiled by David Dobson.
India Related Links
- Indexes with an India connection transcribed from the "Emigrants from Glasgow and the West of Scotland" Further details are held on this excellent family history website.
- National Archives of Scotland have a free searchable index revealing many records of interest to the British India family historian. – copies of the actual records may be obtained from the Archives. For example, a search of the online catalogue under reference GD51/4 throws up an index of almost 1,700 entries relating to persons applying for positions with the East India Company between 1781and 1830– with a note of patronage. These persons can also be found by an individual name search in the catalogue.
- The National Archives of Scotland is now part of the National Records of Scotland, see link below.
- National Archives Guide: Looking for records of a birth, marriage or death in Scotland and Ireland
- ScotlandsPeople. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. A free to search, but pay to view site containing “almost 80 million records” as at March 2010. Includes Births, Marriages, Deaths, Wills and Censuses.
- National Records of Scotland. nrscotland.gov.uk. Includes categories
- Research/Family History
- Research/Research Guides
- Cyndi’s List contains links to a large number of sites to help track down your Scottish ancestors.
- Online Scottish Directories from the collection of the National Library of Scotland on Archive.org. Also available on the National Library of Scotland website, where there is a Search facility. The collection on Archive.org is probably easier to browse, the collection on the NLS website easier to search.
- "New gazetteer for searching Ordnance Survey six-inch to the mile, 1888-1913 maps" [of England, Scotland, and Wales] Scroll down to entry dated April 2018 for details. Direct link for Search maps.nls.uk.
- Records of Clan Campbell in the military service of the Honourable East India Company 1660-1858 by Sir Duncan Campbell, (London 1925), available online, refer below.
- "Scotland’s Empire: The Scots in British India" by Sir Tom Devine. BACSA podcast of a lecture 8 April 2019. "Scotland’s most distinguished historian Sir Tom Devine considers the role of Scots in India in administration, the military and trade with special reference to the period from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Among the themes examined are the scale of Scottish ‘colonisation’ of the East India Company, the reasons for this and the impact of the India connection on Scotland itself. Sir Tom Devine is Professor Emeritus in History at the University of Edinburgh. His books include To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, The Scottish Nation 1700–2000 and Scotland’s Empire.
- The Tiger and the Thistle Website project focusing on Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India, 1760-1800, now an archived website.
- Tracking down traditional Scottish food from Anglo-IndianFood.blogspot.com
- A social and domestic history of the kilted and Highland Based Regiments of Foot, 1820-1920 by D M Henderson [Diana Mary] 1986 PhD Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, University of Edinburgh.
Historical books online
- Records of Clan Campbell in the military service of the Honourable East India Company 1660-1858 by Sir Duncan Campbell 1925 Archive.org. Also available HathiTrust Digital Library version where the pages are rotatable.
- Account of the Clan-Iver [by Peter Colin Campbell] 1873 is available in two versions on Archive.org Version 1 is generally clearer print, but some pages, particularly at the beginning of the book may be clearer in Version 2. The book contains references to people in India.
- History of the Scottish regiments in the British Army by Arch. K. Murray 1862 Archive.org
- The History of Scotland, its Highlands, Regiments and Clans, Volume VIII by James Browne 1909 Archive.org. This volume includes the regiments.
- Recommended to FIBIS Research Co-ordinator by a FIBIS member – one copy located in Scottish National Library.