British in India records on findmypast – 11 tips for searching

07 Feb | News,

Last week saw the launch of the ‘British in India’ collection on findmypast and we have spent the week excitedly searching the records and posting a series of tips on our Facebook page. As people have found the tips helpful we thought we would share them on our blog for our subscribers too.

Please remember that these tips are for the British in India records  as they stand this week. The structure and content of these records could change any time.

Searching British in India records on findmypast tips

Tip 1

Several people seem to be under the wrong impression that only the Births and Baptism records are online as the link given on the front page of findmypast takes you to the ‘British India Office Births & Baptisms‘ search page. If you scroll down the Births and Baptism search page you will see links on the right to search pages for the other records in the collection. Some people have already mentioned that these links have disappeared for them, but you can also get to the other records via the links under ‘Search records’ in the horizontal navigation bar.

Other records in the British in India collection include:

  • British India Office marriages
  • British India Office deaths & burials
  • British India Army & Navy pensions
  • East India Company & Civil Service pensions
  • British India Office wills & probate
  • British India Office assistant surgeons

For a full list of records currently on findmypast, with references and dates covered, see  Summary list  of  the British in India Collection on the British Library website.

 Tip 2

Wish you could fill in the parents names and have a list of search results showing all their children? Unfortunately you can’t do that, but you can do something else that will produce similar results.

  1. Enter the surname only
  2. Enter the fathers first name into OPTIONAL WORDS
  3. Click ‘Search India Office Births and Baptisms’

Tip 3

Looking for cadet application forms and petitions? You need to search British India Office Births & Baptism as they seem to be in with those and not in with military records.

Tip 4

Looking for a surname beginning with O ? Quite a few seem to have been data entered as O’ . We have come across OLIVER entered as O ‘LVER and OGLE as O’LE etc.

Tip 5

Take the location given in a search result with a pinch of salt. Quite a few index entries give the wrong location for the event. This seems to be down to the transcriber misunderstanding the location written at the top of the page. For instance, some events at Chunar are indexed as Benares, because the original record notes ‘Baptisms at  Chunar within the district of Benares’. We have found other entries indexed as being at Calcutta, when it really was within the archdeaconry/diocese of Calcutta and some Dehra Dun records indexed as Benares. That is a minor inconvenience as some locations are close, but a reminder to check the wider area.

Tip 6

Know someone was definitely baptised, married or buried somewhere, but can’t find it when searching?

  1. Put an * in first name field ( don’t check the variant option)
  2. Put an * in surname field ( don’t check the variant option )
  3. Now fill in a place-name eg Vepery in the place field
  4. Run search

You will get all the baptisms, marriages or burial’s that show the event occurring in Vepery.

Tip 7

Looking for a surname beginning with D’ ? We have found a few D’ entered as O’ . For example D’Emello has been entered as O’Emello etc.

Tip 8

Looking for Writers ‘ Petitions, 1749-1805? These seem to be in with ‘British India Office Births & Baptisms‘, so search there.

Tip 9

Returns of Deaths of uncovenanted Civil Servants and Other Officers 1870-1949 can be found by searching ‘British India Office Deaths & Burials‘ and give a lot more information than just date and place of death.

Tip 10

Looking for an ancestor in the Bengal Army? It appears many entries from ‘The Lord Clive Military fund’ have been indexed as being in the Madras presidency instead of Bengal in the ‘British India Office Army & Navy pensions’.

Tip 11

Deaths in the Uncovenanted service (which are mixed in with ‘British India Office Deaths & Burials‘) have not been attributed Presidencies. This means they don’t show up if you narrow your search with the Presidency filter.

Secondly, if you only want to see results from that record set, put ‘uncovenanted’ in the optional keywords.

This last point should work with many of the specific sets, ie put ‘cadet’ in the optional words just to search cadet papers, ‘writer’ for writers petitions, etc.

Want to find out more about the British in India Collection?

Why not come along to  the first Families in British India Society Conference  16-18 May 2014  at  the four-star  Best Western Manor Hotel, Meriden, Warwickshire  near Birmingham where there will be a presentation by  Debra Chatfield  of findmypast on their extensive record collection and their project to digitise the British in India Records, plus facilities for free, supported look-ups.

Find out more about the conference at