This guide was last updated in 2014

Unlike Britain from 1837, civil registration was not compulsory in India.

However European settlers’ vital details are well documented in baptism, marriage and burial registers and through other paperwork generated by the East India Company and India Office. Copies of church records are held at the British Library but have been digitised by

Findmypast is now the best place to go online to find original documents for British ancestors who were in India from the 17th to the 20th centuries. For full details of its huge British India Office Collection, including wills, pension papers, and other records, click here.

The British Library and the Families in British India Society (FIBIS) have also compiled useful free databases containing transcriptions. The British Library’s portal covers 300,000 births, baptisms, marriages, burials and deaths, as well as military and marine records. Some vital details can also be found at this link.

The FIBIS database has over a million entries for people living in British India, extracted from ecclesiastical and military records, wills, genealogies, the 1851 Bombay Census, published sources, newspapers, directories and more. Anyone can search the FIBIS site for free, but members get access to additional content.

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