Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Honourable East India Company

The Honourable East India Company ([H]EIC) held the Charter to represent the British Crown's merchant interests and to establish trade east of the Cape of Good Hope. They were granted this Charter from about 1600 until shortly after the Indian Mutiny when the EIC was dissolved. Naturally the HEIC's ships and trading posts (often referred to as "factories") needed to defend themselves against the pirates, marauders and forces of hostile powers - both European and Eastern.

To overcome this both Europeans and natives were recruited into the HEIC's army and navy. For ease of reference the records pertaining to the HEIC army and navy are presented separately.

There are numerous sources of data on both officers and enlisted men who served in the HEIC's army. These include:

a) Officers' entry into service records - e.g. Cadetship Papers, Addiscombe Military Seminary, Assistant Surgeons & Veterinary Surgeons
b) Officers' Services - service records, casualty returns, Military Fund Pension Contributions, etc
c) Soldiers' recruitment - recruitment records, Description Books, Embarkation Lists, Ships' Logs
d) Soldiers' service records - service records, Muster rolls, Discharge Records etc
e) Pension Schemes - soldiers and officers
f) Genealogical data - wives and children (orphanages & schools), Baptisms, Marriage, wills etc

The Bombay Marine was the fighting navy of the EIC in Asian waters as opposed to is mercantile marine. In 1830 the Bombay Marine was renamed the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy was abolished in 1863 and was replaced by a revived non-combatant Bombay Marine.

The following summarises the records available for researching Bombay Marine personnel:

a) Records of Appointment - cadetship papers
b) Records of Service - lists of serving personnel, Europeans in the Bombay Marine, officers' service records, pension records for (retired) officers, family registers etc

In 1877 the revived Bombay Marine and the Bengal Marine were combined to form the HM Indian Marine. This became the Royal Indian Marine in 1892 an the Royal Indian Navy in 1935. In summary the biographical source available are:

a) Records of Appointment - correspondence etc
b) Records of Service - Annual official lists of serving personnel, detailed records of service RIM & RIN, personnel files of officers from the RIN & RIN Volunteer Reserve (Second World War), records of leave and pay, gratuities paid to officers.

The biographical records for the EIC's Mercantile Marine (1600 - 1834) personnel cover the following records:

a) Records of Appointment - appointment of officers, certificates of age / baptism / birth for Midshipmen, lists of Surgeons & Surgeons' Mates (their appointment to ships) etc
b) Records of Service - journals and logs of East Indiamen list ships' companies, wages and receipt books, Register of shipping & commanders, descriptions of officers, records of "extra" ships, pensions paid to officers and seamen, Statements of service.

Please note that the above represents a very brief summary of the biographical sources available for researching the (H)EIC personnel. It is by no means definitive and they are other sources of data however the principal ones have been noted above.