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8 posts from January 2021

28 January 2021

Sources for the 1947 Bengal and Punjab Boundary Commissions

A common question which India Office Records curators receive from researchers is what sources there are  in the records for the Bengal and Punjab Boundary Commissions of 1947. The Boundary Commissions have featured previously in an Untold Lives story.  The Commissions were created in 1947 for the purpose of determining the new border between India and Pakistan following independence from British rule.  Both were chaired by the British lawyer Sir Cyril Radcliffe.  The Radcliffe Line became the border between India and Pakistan when the Award was published on 17 August 1947, two days after independence.

Map of India taken from Report on the last Viceroyalty 1947Map of India taken from Report on the last Viceroyalty, Rear-Admiral The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 22 March to 15 August 1947, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/5/396/15 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Files relating to the Boundary Commissions can be found in the principal series in the official records relating to the Transfer of Power, in particular the Public & Judicial Department Papers and the Private Office Papers.  A list of specific file titles and shelfmarks can be found at the end of this post.  Some papers are reproduced in the last volume of Constitutional relations between Britain and India. The transfer of power, 1942-7, edited by Nicholas Mansergh (London, 1970-83).

Map of India and Pakistan boundaries 1947Map of India/Pakistan boundaries as fixed by the Boundary Commission 17 Aug 1947 (London: War Office, 1947) shelfmark: Cartographic Items Maps MOD OR 6409 Images Online

Discussions concerning the Boundary Commissions appear in several collections of private papers, in particular:
• IOR Neg 15538-67: copies of the papers of Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy 1947 and Governor-General 1947-48 of India.
• Mss Eur C357: weekly correspondence of the Earl of Listowel, Secretary of State for India Apr-Aug 1947, with Lord Mountbatten, Viceroy of India.
• IOR Neg 10760-826: Papers of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of Muslim League in India and founder of Pakistan.
• Mss Eur C645: letters, dated 1967-1973, from Sir Evan Meredith Jenkins, Governor of Punjab 1946-47, to Stuart Evelyn Abbott, his Private Secretary in 1947, on the question of last minute alterations to the boundary commission award partitioning the Punjab. See also Mss Eur D807.
• Mss Eur Photo Eur 358: copies of statements, dated 1989-1992, by Herbert Christopher Beaumont, Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Boundary Commissions. Also family letters at Mss Eur Photo Eur 428, and oral history recordings at C63/89-93.

Comments on the Boundary Commissions also appear in the private papers of Sir Penderel Moon, Indian Civil Service, Punjab (Mss Eur F230); Sir Francis Mudie, Governor of Sind and West Punjab (Mss Eur F164); Walter Henry John Christie, Indian Civil Service, Bengal (Mss Eur D718); and Sir Laurence Barton Grafftey-Smith, United Kingdom High Commissioner in Pakistan (Mss Eur C631).


John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Establishment and composition of Boundary Commissions, Jun-Nov 1947, shelfmark: IOR/L/PJ/5/396/15.

Information Department file on the partition of Bengal and the Punjab, and the appointment of the Boundary Commission, 1947-1948, shelfmark IOR/L/I/1/770.

Appointment of Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman, Punjab and Bengal Boundary Commissions, Jun 1947-Jan 1948, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/7/12500.

Boundary Commissions of Punjab and Bengal: petitions, memoranda and telegrams and protests against awards, Aug 1947-Oct 1948, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/7/12465.

File in the political papers of the Viceroy's Private Office on the Boundary Commission, Jun-Sep 1947, shelfmark IOR/R/3/1/157.

Reports of the Bengal Boundary Commission 1947 and Punjab Boundary Commission 1947, shelfmark IOR/V/26/261/60. The maps accompanying the reports are in the India Office Map Collections, shelfmarks IOR/X/9076 (for Bengal and Assam) and IOR/X/9077 (for Punjab).

Photocopies of the reports of the members of the Bengal and Punjab Boundary Commissions, Jul-Aug 1947, shelfmark Mss Eur Photo Eur 211.

`The Origins of the Frontier between India and East Pakistan': confidential printed memorandum, with maps annexed, dated 19 Feb 1969, by Research Dept. of Foreign and Commonwealth Office, shelfmark Mss Eur D768.

India/Pakistan boundaries as fixed by the Boundary Commission 17 Aug 1947 (London: War Office, 1947), scale 1:2 000 000, shelfmark: Cartographic Items Maps MOD OR 6409.

India/Pakistan boundaries fixed by the Boundary commission, 17 Aug 1947, Bengal and Assam, (London: War Office, 1947), scale 1:2 022 000, shelfmark: Cartographic Items Maps MOD OR 5682B.

 

26 January 2021

Daniel Seton – Magistrate of Surat

A volume listing court cases from Surat, India, in 1796, reveals a lot about the legal process in a British trading post and a little about a Scottish administrator.

Introductory paragraph to the diary of Daniel SetonIntroductory paragraph to the diary of Daniel Seton IOR/G/36/81 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

As part of the India Office Records team’s ongoing efforts to identify historically overlooked individuals in our collections, I recently compiled a summary of the cases held in a judicial diary (IOR/G/36/81).  The summary has been added to the catalogue description on the British Library website.  The diary was compiled by Daniel Seton, Chief of Surat, while completing his duties in 1796.  It lists 242 cases and includes the names of the petitioners and defendants, the crimes or subject of dispute, and the decisions made by Seton.

List of cases from the diary of Daniel SetonList of cases from the diary of Daniel Seton IOR/G/36/81  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Surat factory or trading post, in Gujarat, was established by the East India Company in 1612.  A history of the area can be found in the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Surat and Broach.  At first the chief seat of the Company’s trade, Surat declined in importance when the British took possession of Bombay in 1661 and made it their centre of administration in 1687.  By the time Seton was writing, Surat was run-down, having borne the brunt of warring European powers, a vicious storm in 1782, and a famine in 1790.

The History of the family of Seton during eight centuries lists Daniel Seton as the second son from the second marriage of Daniel Seton of Powderhall, Edinburgh, but we know little else about him.  Daniel’s role as Chief seems to fit between the Governor of the city and its administrators.  According to the Gazetteer of Bombay, a Dutch visitor to Surat in 1774 saw the native Governor as a puppet ruler under the Chief.  He claimed they had to obey British commands like ‘the lowest inhabitant’, although the Company men would ‘show him externally some honour’.

However this doesn’t seem to match with how Seton saw his role.  He wrote in this volume that he held ‘all the duties of magistrate prescribed by law to subjects living under the Anglish protection’ and hoped ‘to act up to a true sense [of] humanity.’  And in a letter from Seton to the Governor, or Nabob, of Surat, he claimed friendship and a desire ‘to co-operate with you to the honor of your Government and the Protection of the Subjects’.

Seton also favoured local advice, such as ‘a punchat or arbitration’ for property cases, or using ‘the patells or heads of the caste’ to solve social disputes ‘conformally to the laws of their sects’; thus demonstrating consideration of an unfamiliar culture.

Seton also imposed rules on the treatment of the accused.  Following reports about violent treatment and internment before trial, Seton ‘established as a rule never to be deviated from, that he should not himself or any other of the officers of Government attempt to p[un]ish before conviction any individual whatever’.

Of course we cannot know truthfully how fair Seton was, or how true to his word, but we can be thankful he has left us a valuable record of individuals and their crimes under his jurisdiction in 1796.

Matthew Waters
India Office Records

Further reading:
Surat Factory Records (IOR/G/36/81 : 1796)
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Surat and Broach, Sir James MacNabb Campbell, Reginald Edward Enthoven (Bombay, 1894)
National Library of Scotland – History of the family of Seton during eight centuries – Volume 1

 

21 January 2021

Isabella Keiskamma Frend - a challenging life

Isabella Keiskamma Frend was born 5 July 1829 at Fort Wiltshire, Cape of Good Hope (South Africa).  She was the daughter of Captain Albert Frend, HM 55th Regiment and his wife Ellen, née Last.  Her unusual middle name was taken from the Keiskamma River on which the Fort stood.

 View of the Cape of Good Hope; a tall, peaked mountain on the right with ships in the Table Bay below on the left and Cape Town on the rightView of Cape Town and highlands by F. Jukes published 1794 Maps K.Top.117.116.e.2 Images Online

As an Army family the Frends moved around frequently.  Their first child Ellen was born in Essex in 1815, and their two sons Albert and John were born in Jersey in 1815 and 1819 respectively.  Albert senior and Ellen didn’t marry until 14 August 1820 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, where their daughter Jane was born in September that year.  The family then travelled to the Cape of Good Hope where daughters Hester Tew (1823), Eliza (1824), Maria (1826) and Isabella herself were all born.  By 1832 the family were in India and their final child, Sarah, was born in Bellary, Madras, on 22 August 1832.

On 12 February 1833 tragedy struck the family.  Albert died in Bellary, Madras, and Ellen, who had set out with her children for Madras intending to return home to England, died on route at Cuddapah on 25 April 1833.  The nine Frend children found themselves orphaned, with only the eldest daughter Ellen already married and in a position to care for her siblings.

Isabella and Sarah were the only two not to remain in India.  They were adopted by Joseph and Emily Clulow and by 1841 were living in St Andrew, Devon.  Joseph passed away shortly afterwards and Emily moved with Isabella and Sarah to Brighton where both girls married.

On 13 August 1852 Isabella married Octavius Child, a Volunteer in the Indian Navy.  The couple had three children: Isabella Emily Sarah born 1853 in Aranjuez, Spain; Georgina Elizabeth born 1855 in Brighton; and Albert Octavius born 1857 in Santander, Spain.  Octavius died in Brighton 9 April 1858 age 31, after just six years of marriage.

Isabella married for a second time on 5 April 1862 in Gloucestershire to widower Francis Lawford, a Captain in the Madras Army.  As well as their children from their first marriages, they had a further three children together: Margaret Frances Isabella born in 1863; Bessie Ellen born 1865, died 1866; and Lionel Francis born in 1867.  Francis died on 28 August 1870, after eight years of marriage.  As a Madras Army Officer he subscribed to the Madras Military Fund Pension scheme.  Following his death not only did Isabella receive an annual pension, but so did all of Francis’s children who at the time of his death were unmarried (in the case of the girls) or under the age of 21 (in the case of the boys).

Isabella continued to live in Gloucestershire and on 15 September 1880 she married for a third time to the Baptist Minister William Millard.  There were no children from this marriage, which lasted for twelve years until William’s death in 1892.

After William's death Isabella was re-admitted to the Madras Military Fund as Captain Lawford’s widow.  Isabella moved to Ilfracombe, Devon where she remained until her own death on 14 September 1902.

Karen Stapley
Curator, India Office Records


Further Reading:
IOR/L/AG/3/10/1-2 Registers of subscribers to the Madras Military Fund and their widows and dependents.
IOR/L/AG/23/10/11, Part 2 No. 222 Certificates submitted in connection with Captain Francis Lawford’s subscription to the Madras Military Fund, including his marriage certificate to Isabella Keiskamma Child.
IOR/L/AG/23/10/13A, Part 3 No. 1103 Certificates submitted in connection to Mrs Isabella Keiskamma Millard’s eligibility for re-admission to the Madras Military Fund as the widow of Captain Francis Lawford.

 

19 January 2021

Richard Walpole and the East India Company at sea

Writer Horace Walpole had a cousin Richard who served as an East India Company maritime officer from 1744-1757.  Richard Walpole had at least two encounters with hostile French shipping whilst serving as a Company officer, exemplifying the dangers faced by merchant ships even when as heavily armed as East Indiamen.

During Walpole’s first voyage as 6th mate and purser in the Augusta, his ship captured the French vessel Baronette on 21 October 1747.

Whilst commanding the Houghton in March 1757, Walpole was involved in an action near the Cape of Good Hope.  His journal of the voyage records how on the afternoon of 9 March the East Indiamen Houghton, Suffolk and Godolphin were approached by two unidentified ships.  Walpole immediately began to clear his ship in readiness for battle.  The three East Indiamen steered away but were followed.  Walpole had everyone on board prepared for action all night.

At daybreak the Suffolk raised its flags and made the signal for line of battle.  Here is a splendid drawing of that line of battle from the journal of the Suffolk.

Drawing showing the three East India ships in the line of battleLine of battle for the three East Indiamen from the journal of the Suffolk IOR/L/MAR/B/397D  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

At 8 am the unknown ships hoisted French colours.   The larger of the two shot at the English ships and the Suffolk returned fire.   After a short exchange, the ‘warm engagement’ ceased as the ships found themselves positioned outside the bearings of each other’s guns.  The French made to sail westward but were pursued by the East Indiamen.  They then tacked and came in close to the English ships and ‘a very smart fire’ was maintained by both sides.  At noon the French sailed away, probably bound for Mauritius.  Walpole recorded: ‘Every Body behaved during the whole Engagement with great Courage & Resolution; several of the Shot from the large Ship reached us, & four of them have lodged…(thank God) no Body hurt’.

Letter from Captain William Wilson of the Suffolk reporting the action against the French published in the Newcastle Courant newspaperLetter from Captain William Wilson of the Suffolk reporting the action against the French published in Newcastle Courant 9 July 1757 British Newspaper Archive

The three ships reached the UK without further incident.  Captain William Wilson of the Suffolk reported that the officers and sailors ‘behaved with all the Bravery and Intrepidity peculiar to our English seamen’.  He and his fellow captains asked the Company to honour a promise to reward mariners for their response to enemy attack.

Some of the crew of the Houghton, Suffolk and Godolphin did not reach their homes at the end of this eventful voyage.  They were pressed by the Royal Navy and found themselves on board HMS Hussar.

The French did defeat Richard Walpole five years later.  The ship Walpole for which he was Principal Managing Owner was captured off Ceylon by two French men of war and a frigate on 20 September 1762 on its outward journey to Bengal, laden mainly with cloth.  Captain Parson Fenner and some of the crew ended up at the Cape of Good Hope, others at Mauritius.  The East India Company decided that the capture was not through any misconduct of Fenner or his officers, but entirely owing to the superior force of the enemy which they were ‘utterly unable to resist’.  Richard Walpole was given permission by the Company to build a new ship for Fenner on the bottom of the Walpole.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
East India Company Court Minutes IOR/B/74 and IOR/B/79
Ship journals: Houghton IOR/L/MAR/B/438H; Suffolk IOR/L/MAR/B/397D
British Newspaper Archive (also accessible through Findmypast) e.g. Newcastle Courant 9 July 1757

 

14 January 2021

Bibee Zuhoorun: Women’s Voices in the Indian Indenture Trade

Bibee Zuhoorun was one of 1.3 million Indian labourers recruited in Caribbean and Indian Ocean sugar plantations after slave-labour was abolished in the British Empire.  She migrated to Mauritius in the 1830s and on her return to India, testified in an official inquiry committee set up to investigate transgressions in the Indian indenture trade.  As the earliest voice of female indentured labourers, Zuhoorun’s testimony offers a rare insight into early migration—painting a story of deception, ill-treatment and injustice.

Title page of Report of the Calcutta Committee of Inquiry 1839 containing Zuhoorun’s testimonyReport of the Calcutta Committee of Inquiry, 1839, containing Zuhoorun’s testimony 

In Calcutta, she was persuaded by a labour-recruiter to travel to Mauritius and work as a servant.  After her departure, however, she realised she had been deceived: ‘I got no clothes given to me, nor blankets, nor brass pots’.   Nor did she receive the quality of wages, or the six-month wage advance that the recruiter had promised.

In Mauritius, she spoke of the injustice meted out to fellow labourers—a story of overworked men subjected to ill-treatment and corporal punishment.  Labourers were often confined within plantations, and denied wages if they refused to work.  She felt stuck in a foreign land with no means of returning to her homeland, urging ‘every one would leave if there was a land journey; not one would advise any of their friends to go there’.

View looking towards a ground of labourers' huts on a sugar plantation in the Plaines Wilhelms district of Mauritius, with a small group of labourers posed in the foreground and a mountain rising against the skyline in the background.‘Indian huts on a sugar plantation, Plain William near Port Louis’ c. 1853. Photographer: Frederick Fiebig. British Library Photo 250(25) Images Online

Zuhoorun’s testimony attested to the gendered experience of indentured migrants.  While men tended to cultivate and process sugar, women often worked in the households of plantation-owners.  Zuhoorun testified to ‘making salt, climbing tamarind trees to pick them, sweeping the house, and cutting grass for cattle’.  She even learnt French to communicate with her French ‘master’.

Her testimony also highlighted instances of sexual harassment and the expectation of sexual favours—a common occurrence in plantations.  Zuhoorun complained that her plantation-owner Dr. Boileau asked her to be his mistress.  She refused, saying ‘I have degraded myself by going on board ship; I would not further degrade myself’'.  Her attempts to complain to the police were met with a three-month stint at a house of correction, and then a return to Boileau’s house, where she was beaten and harassed further.  Eventually, she decided to return to India before the end of her five-year contract, even if it meant not receiving any wages for her 2.5 years of service.

Zuhoorun’s bitterness towards the indenture system is evident in her testimony.  She urged: ‘I would not return to Mauritius on any account; it is a country of slaves; […] I would rather beg my bread here’.  Overseas migration had also damaged her social position.  She implored, ‘even my mother will not drink water from my hand or eat with me’; a sign of social ostracization tied to a taboo on crossing the Indian Ocean.

Indian and Chinese Indentured Labourers in British GuianaIndian and Chinese Indentured Labourers in British Guiana. Image from Edward Jenkins, The Coolie, His Rights and Wrongs (1871) from Wikimedia commons

Zuhoorun’s story is not just one of tragedy, injustice and violence, but also strength and resilience.  She not only resisted Boileau’s advances and ended her contract early, but even complained to his wife, sacrificing her livelihood at the same time.  Although relegated to the footnotes of history, her testimony remains the earliest account of a female indentured migrant, characterised by its strength, detail and passionate criticism of the indenture system.

Purba Hossain
University of Leeds

Further reading:

Read the testimonies of Zuhoorun and other indentured migrants in Letter from Secretary to Government of India to Committee on Exportation of Hill Coolies: Report of Committee and Evidence. Parliamentary Papers (House of Commons) 1841, Vol. 16, No. 45

Discover the life stories of indentured labourers -
‘Becoming Coolies’ - Life Stories and From the Archive
The Indentured Archipelago 

Marina Carter, Voices from Indenture: Experiences of Indian Migrants in the British Empire (London; New York: Leicester University Press, 1996).
Marina Carter, Servants, Sirdars, and Settlers: Indians in Mauritius, 1834-1874 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995).
Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

 

12 January 2021

The hunt for Syed Mahamad Yusufuddin

A dip into the records of the India Office Legal Adviser reveals an exciting tale of espionage behind a Privy Council appeal against wrongful imprisonment.

The judgement of Privy Council appeal No. 19 of 1902, brought by Syed Mahamad Yusufuddin against the Secretary of State for India, is available to view on BAILII, but doesn’t tell the whole story of the case. 

Photograph of a street scene in Simla (Shimla) in the 1880s showing shops and people going about their daily business Photograph of a street scene in Simla (Shimla) taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s British Library Photo 94/2(35) British Library Online Gallery

The background of the case can be found in the India Office Records held at the British Library in the Legal Adviser’s records (IOR/L/L/8/42).  The story begins in Simla, in the far north of India, in July 1895 with the conviction of Babu Gopal Chandar, a hotelier, for attempting to procure government documents from the Record Keeper, Mr Schorn, through bribery.  The record keeper reported that Chandar had visited him at his home and offered 600-700 rupees and an annual salary in return for information on Hyderabad, the largest princely state in British India.  Mr Schorn contacted the police and arranged a further meeting with Chandar so an inspector could eavesdrop and take notes as evidence.

Following his arrest, Mr Chandar claimed he was working on behalf of a 'Sardar of Hyderabad' , meaning a prince or nobleman, staying at his establishment, the Central Hotel.  As a result, in September a warrant was issued for the arrest of one Syed Mahamad Yusufuddin, who we assume was staying in the hotel when the crime was committed.  However, by then, Yusufuddin had left Simla, so a manhunt began.

A copy of the initial order for the arrest of YusufuddinA copy of the initial order for the arrest of Yusufuddin taken from case documents supplied by the Foreign Department at the time in a file marked 'SECRET – Internal'. IOR/L/L/8/42 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Magistrate issuing the warrant was aware that if Yusufuddin had returned to the princely state of Hyderabad, then, as a foreign territory, the warrant would not apply.  Therefore the British would have to rely on the Nizam of Hyderabad adhering to extradition law.

However, the fugutive was tracked down in Hyderabad on 28 November 1895 at Shankarpalli railway station.  Fortunately for the British, at this time “the Government of India ... exercise[d] jurisdiction upon the railway” and could arrest him.  However, this jurisdiction only applied to railway offences, which brought into question their right to hold Yusufuddin.

A copy of a telegram dated on behalf of the Nizam of Hyderabad calling for the release of YusufuddinA copy of a telegram dated on behalf of the Nizam of Hyderabad calling for the release of Yusufuddin IOR/L/L/8/42 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Reminiscent of the 'Great Game' of espionage made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, this manhunt across different territories in British-controlled Asia reveals a kernel of truth behind the fantastic stories to be found in contemporary literature for boys.  And Chandar’s covert attempt to gather information on British plans also suggests the suspicion in which the British were held in princely states like Hyderabad.

Yusufuddin was released on bail two days later on 30 November and avoided conviction.  He went on to appeal against his arrest outside of a British territory and claim damages for false imprisonment.  The case eventually reached the Privy Council who dismissed it, as the claim was made too long after the imprisonment.

Matthew Waters
India Office Records

Further reading:
P.C. No. 19 of 1902 - 1896-1903 - British Library reference IOR/L/L/8/42
Syed Mahamad Yusuf-ud-din v The Secretary of State for India in Council (Hyderabad) [1903] UKPC 32 (15 May 1903) 

 

07 January 2021

Severe weather hits Britain in January 1763

In January 1763 parts of Britain were hit by severe weather conditions.  London was badly affected, with reports that the River Thames was as hazardous as the ocean.  Seagulls were seen near London Bridge, a sign of how cold conditions were that winter.

Ice at London Bridge when the River Thames froze in February 1814  showing boats stranded and people walking on the frozen waterIce at London Bridge when the River Thames froze in February 1814 - British Library K.Top.27.41 Images Online 

The directors of the East India Company resolved at their meeting on 26 January 1763 to help the poor of London ‘in consideration of the severity of the season’.  They gave ten guineas to several parishes for the relief of the poor: St Andrew Undershaft, St Olave Hart Street, St Katherine Coleman, St Mary Rotherhithe, All Hallows Barking, St Katharine Cree, St Helen’s, and St Peter Cornhill.  St Bartholomew by the Exchange received five guineas.  The maritime pensioners living in the Company’s almshouse, Poplar Hospital, were awarded an extra month’s pension at a total cost of £200.  Another ten guineas was donated towards helping the poor of Poplar.

Extract from East India Company directors' minutes detailing winter payments to poor people in London

British Library, IOR/B/78 p.289 Court of Directors minutes 26 January 1763 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

A group of gardeners dressed in mourning pulled a cart without horses through Cheapside.  They asked for charity because the weather had prevented them from working.

In Cambridgeshire, Anne Sizer went to buy bread in Soham and became lost on her way back home.  She wandered into the fen, lay down, and froze to death.

On a lighter note, a gentleman from Lincoln’s Inn took on a skating challenge for a considerable bet.  He had to pick up 100 stones from the frozen Serpentine River in Hyde Park, laid out one yard apart in a direct line, and return with them separately to the starting point.  The time allowed was 1¼ hours but he managed to complete the task with ease in 52½ minutes.

Snowdrop with white flowers and green spreading leaves

Snowdrop from Sophina Gordon, Flowers, Earth's silent voices (Philadelphia, 1865) BL flickr

Not all regions were affected.  Dublin escaped the chill, and the weather was so mild in South Wales that snowdrops, daisies and primroses were blooming.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive e.g. Leeds Intelligencer 18 January 1763; Sussex Advertiser 24 January 1763.
London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post January 1763 via Google Books.
British Library, IOR/B/78 p.289 Court of Directors minutes 26 January 1763.

05 January 2021

Bevin Trainees now in India Office Family History Search

In 1941 the British Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, supported the establishment of the Bevin Training Scheme to provide practical training in engineering for young Indians.  The Scheme was an effort to meet the demand for skilled engineers in Indian industries supporting the war effort.

Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India, chatting to an Indian trainee at work in a factoryLeo Amery, Secretary of State for India, chatting to an Indian trainee at work in a factory - from Engineering Bulletin September 1941 published by the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Crown Copyright) IOR/L/I/1/978

A previous story on Untold Lives revealed that the India Office Records include lists of the first seven batches of trainees invited to the UK and details of the firms they were placed with and houses they lodged in.

Example of a page from the India Office file showing the details recorded about the traineesExample of a page from IOR/L/E/8/8112 showing the details recorded about the trainees Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

As part of the India Office Records team’s efforts to identify records of individuals in our collections who historically have been overlooked, we have now transcribed all the names and details from these lists into the British Library’s India Office Family History Search.

Here are some examples of entries:
Prasad, R. – Placed with the Cincinnatti Milling Machine Company, Birmingham, on 13 Oct 1941.  Lodged at 77 Eachelhurst Road, Erdington, Birmingham.  Trainee reference number 2/42.
Deshpande, H.G. – Placed with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, Crewe, on 28 Sep 1942.  Lodged at Saxon House, Carlton Road, Whalley Range, Manchester.  Trainee reference number 5/38.
Nandy, S. – Placed with Vauxhall Motors, Luton, on 7 June 1943.  Lodged at 21 Ascot Road, Luton.  Trainee reference number 7/5.

We hope that this data will help your family history research and reveal stories about collaboration across cultures.

Matthew Waters
India Office Records

Further reading:
Bevin Training Scheme: papers not transferred to the High Commissioner for India, including lists of Indian trainees showing firms with whom placed and lodging addresses, May 1941-Sep 1947 [British Library reference IOR/L/E/8/8112]
Indian workmen training in UK (Bevin Boys), 1940-1947 [British Library reference IOR/L/I/1/978]