If your ancestor was an officer, then like the British Army, there will be several army lists that you will be able to consult to discover details about their army service. Army Lists were first published in Britain in 1754 by the War Office and contain varying amounts of information depending on the date of the list. The later lists contain a wealth of information and include details about Chaplains, Veterinary and Medical officers too.
Similar to the British Army, details of 'other ranks' particularly in the East India Company's army and the Indian Army is not as comprehensive. However, it is still possible to find some fascinating and valuable information about your ancestors in the records at the British Library.
Hart's Army List is the most common army list available (see 'Army lists' page 45) with copies and facsimile copies easily found in second-hand bookshops and on the internet. A very useful feature for the genealogist in Harts' was the listing of an officer's war service with details
MARRIAGE: Certificate of the author's parents, Arthur Rowland and Dorothy Thomas
It was an increase of five shillings in the price of a pound of pepper in 1599 by the Dutch, who controlled the spice trade that caused 24 merchants from the City of London to found a modest trading company. With an initial capital of £72,000 subscribed by 125 shareholders this trading company became the Honourable East India Company.
I had two great-great-grandfathers who served as soldiers with the East India Company, and my late father served in the Indian Army during World War II.
My paternal great-greatgrandfather, James Rowland, enlisted in the Madras Infantry in 1818 at the age of 18. His attestation papers state that he was a blacksmith from the village of Croft (now Croft-on-Tees) on the North Yorkshire/Durham border. What led him to leave his home and his family for service with the East India Company army in India, I have yet to discover.
He served a total of 49 years rising to the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissary, Ordnance Department at Fort St George, Madras. He died in service at Madras in 1867 of enteric fever, and is buried nearby in the old British cemetery at Pallavan Salai.
My family had no records or photographs of James Rowland so I was delighted to discover his attestation papers at the India Office. It gave a physical description of him; his age at enlistment; his occupation; the date that he enlisted; the ship that he sailed to India on; and the place where he was from. This last piece of information was to me the most exciting as I finally discovered where my family originated from in the UK - you might find this to be a superb resource.
Once I had found James' attestation papers, it was easy finding other information about him in the Musters and the army lists. The discovery of his last will and testament also at the British Library led to the discovery of more information about his immediate family, including his wife and children, which acted as a stepping stone to even more information about my family.
My maternal great-great-grandfather, John Campbell, was a Sergeant Major in the 46th Bengal Native Infantry. He enlisted as a drummer boy in the 46th BNI at Calcutta in 1826 aged 13 years, 11 months, 11 days. His
"A very useful feature for the genealogist in Harts' was the listing of an officer's war service with details of medals awarded"
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father was also called John Campbell. We knew from an old newspaper clipping that his father was the Captain of an East Indiaman ship called The Coral. However, no record of him or his ship has ever been found, and I suspect that it was probably a 'Country ship' - one of the Company's local merchant ships operating around Asia.
John Campbell's attestation papers were as interesting to me as James Rowland's, because his physical description suggests that his Scottish father possibly married an Indian woman or an Anglo-Indian woman. His physical description describes him as having hazel eyes, dark hair, and a dark complexion. The fact that he enlisted at Calcutta and not in Britain also suggests that he was probably born in India and not England.
John Campbell served with the 46th Bengal Native Infantry and fought in the 2nd Sikh War of 1848-49 where his regiment was present at the battles of Sadoolapore; Chillianwallah; and Goojerat.
During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 his regiment mutinied at Sealkote on 9 July at 4am and slaughtered the European officers, their wives and children before leaving the station in ruins at 5pm that evening. John and his pregnant wife escaped the slaughter at Sealkote as he was in Kasauli serving as a Drum Major Sergeant in the Governor General's Band. After the Mutiny the Company's regiments came under the control of the Crown and the 24,000 European troops of the Company were allowed to transfer to new 'Royal' regiments or be discharged from the service. Many of the
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