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This article details connections between British India and Scotland.

Historical Background

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.

Religious Influence

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.

Moreover, the climate of the hill station of Coorg, towards Bangalore has encouraged its nickname as the Scotland of India. This is a region also known for its tea and coffee plantations.

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:-

Fibis Resources

  • The Scots Overseas a referenced list of men and women who emigrated or adventured to British India compiled by David Dobson.

India Related Links

The National Archives of Scotland is now part of the National Records of Scotland, see link below.

General Links

Recommended Reading

  • Records of Clan Campbell in the military service of the Honourable East India Company 1660-1858 by Sir Duncan Campbell, (London 1925)[1], available online, refer below.

External links

  • "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
  • 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


  1. Recommended to FIBIS Research Co-ordinator by a FIBIS member – one copy located in Scottish National Library.