Since 1982, the Library has been custodian of the 14km of archives of the East India Company and India Office comprising the records created or received in London initially to support commercial activities and later as part of the process of governing the British Empire in India. The Company and the India Office demanded detailed information from India in order to be able to manage their business there.
The returns of baptisms, marriages and burials, now available on findmypast, enabled them to know who was in India and were an authoritative source if information was required to resolve legal issues. These documents and the copies of numerous wills reveal the lives of people such as planters, entrepreneurs, missionaries and others in India who were not associated with the Company or Government of India. Both the East India Company and the India Office required people with a wide range of skills to work in their military and civil services and to manage relationships with Indian princes and with strategically important areas such as Afghanistan and the Gulf.
Like any employer, they needed information to enable them to recruit the right people and to manage them once they were in post. They also documented their financial obligations, such as the payment of pensions. As a result of their careful record-keeping, we can find out a wealth of fascinating details about people from all walks of life from the documents now available online through findmypast.
Previously only accessible as original documents or on microfilm at the British Library’s Reading Rooms at St. Pancras, thanks to this collaborative project the British in India collection can now be explored online at findmypast.co.uk. This exciting collection includes millions of military and civil records, and includes details of pensions, wills, births, marriages and deaths.
In May 2010, Findmypast began a partnership with the British Library to digitise millions of pages of historic newspapers. New pages are being scanned all the time as part of this 10-year project. Once it's finished, you will be able to search 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's collection on findmypast.co.uk.