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India Office Records: guide to archival sources for areas outside India

This is an introductory guide to source materials for areas outside or on the borders of British India with which the East India Company or the Government of India had trading, political or other contacts.  Links will be given where detailed guides are available on separate Web Pages.

Close contacts with British India c1800-1947 (mostly through Bengal until 1833 and thereafter through Government of India); Anglo-Afghan wars of 1838-42, 1878-80 and 1919; British diplomatic mission in Kabul 1922-47 (under joint India Office/Foreign Office control).
Main sources: E/4; F/4 G/29; H; L/E; L/MIL; L/PARL; L/PO; L/PS; L/WS; P (Bengal Secret/Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign etc); R/12
See also
Afghanistan: sources in the India Office Records

Occasional connections with East India Company/India Office c 1800-1947 chiefly in relation to trade, convicts and emigration.
Main sources: B; D; E; F; G/34; H; I/3; L/MAR; P (Bengal Public/Commercial/Law etc).
See also Indians overseas

Sporadic East India Company contacts from early 17th century; more sustained interest from 1820s (mainly through Bombay until 1873 and thereafter through Government of India); Political Agency established 1900 under Bushire Political Residency/Government of India; Political Residency moved from Bushire to Bahrain 1946.
Main sources: E/3-4; G/29; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/15

Fairly regular connections from c 1770 onwards mostly through Bengal and Indian Governments; Anglo-Bhutanese War of 1864; Government of India’s contacts  maintained through Political Officer in Sikkim from 1907.
Main sources: E/3-4; F/4; L/PS; P (Bengal Secret/Political; India Secret/ Political/Foreign); R/5
See also
Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal: sources in the India Office Records

East India Company’s intermittent commercial relations during 17th and 18th centuries (through factories at Syriam and missions from Madras and Bengal): British Indian administration established through successive annexations — Arakan and Tenasserim 1826, Lower Burma 1852 and Upper Burma 1886; Burma formed a province of British India till 1937 when separate Government of Burma was constituted; Burma became an independent republic 1948.
Main sources: E/4; F/4; G/19;H; L (Most departments); M; P (Madras/Bengal/ India/Burma); R/8

East India Company involvement in plans for fur trade with Nootka Sound in late 18th century.
Main sources: H; L/MAR
See also Indians overseas

East India Company’s occasional trading links from second half of 17th century (through Amoy and Chusan); regular trade at Canton 1715 - 1833; British India’s borders with China brought diplomatic contacts c 1800 - 1947; India Office in close liaison with Foreign Office on Chinese affairs 1858 -1947.
Main sources: E/3-4; G/12; L/MAR/A-B; L/PS; N/9; P (Bengal Secret/ Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign etc); R/10
China: sources in the India Office Records

Chinese Turkestan
see Xinjiang

Other European Powers

East India Company’s interest in communications with India via Suez and Red Sea (c 1750-1858) led to Company agencies at Cairo and elsewhere; close liaison between British officials in Aden, the Gulf and Egypt during and after World War I.
Main sources: G/17; H; L/MAR; L/MIL; L/PS; P (Bombay); R/15; R/19; R/20

Exploratory missions from Bombay and Aden in first half of 19th century; British India military participation in Anglo—Abyssinan War of 1867-68; occasional British Indian contacts thereafter especially through Aden.
Main sources: H; L/MIL; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political/Military); R/20

Indians overseas

Other European Powers

West Africa

Biographical index to Guyana British Colonists
Indians overseas

Other European Powers

Indians overseas
Indian emigration to British colonies and dominions (as well as other European colonies) organized through indentured labour system involved Government of India in supervision and investigation, and (later) in negotiations about civil rights of Indian immigrants (c 1830-1947). Main areas included: Australia, Burma, Canada, Fiji, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad, Uganda, Zanzibar etc.
Main sources: E/4; F/4; L/E; L/PJ; P (India Public, Emigration; Bengal Public, Emigration etc; Madras Public; Bombay General etc).
See also Indian overseas (pdf file)

East India Company had extensive commercial and political involvement throughout the period 1602 -1825. The main connections were with following areas:

  • Java  - Principal factory at Bantam 1602-82, with sub-factory at Macssar 1613-67, and sporadic involvement in the islands during the 17th century; an agency at Batavia from 1758 - c 1830;  Java reoccupied by Company forces 1811-16 and administered by Sir Stamford Raffles; Java restored to Dutch 1816.
  • Sumatra - Short-lived factories at Acheh, Tiku, Priaman, Jambi etc. during 17th century; settlement at Benkulen 1684 -1825.
  • Borneo - Intermittent trading contacts during first half of 17th century; factory at Banjarmasin 1699 - 1707, and 1738 - 47; settlements at Balambangan and Labuan 1771-1804

Main sources: E/3 - 4; G/4, 10, 21, 35;  H; I/2 - 3; L/MAR; L/PS/5-6; N/7; P (Bengal Secret/Political etc)

Early East India Company trading relations mostly through Bandar Abbas, Shiraz and Isfahan c 1617- c 1763; Political Residency established at Bushire 1763 under Bombay 1778 -1873 and Government of India 1873 -1947; Residency moved to Bahrain 1946. Main British diplomatic mission at Tehran alternately under control of Foreign Office and Government of India 1798 -1859; thereafter under Foreign Office but India continued to appoint consular representatives or agents at various posts (e.g. Meshed 1889-1947).
Main sources: E/3 - 4; F/4; G/29, 40; L/PWD/7; L/PS;  P (Bombay Secret! Political; India Secret, Political, Foreign); R/15
See also
Iran: sources in the India Office Records

East India Company trade and later British Indian political relations mainly managed through agencies at Basra (1635 - c 1657, 1723 -1898) and Baghdad (1798 -1914); Baghdad agency under Bombay till 1834 and then under Government of India; India involved in military campaigns in Mesopotamia in World War I and post-war and administration; control of Iraq mandate passed to Colonial Office 1921, though India Office still took close interest thereafter.
Main sources: E/3 - 4; F/4; H; L/MIL; L/PWD; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret! Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign); R/15

Indians overseas

East India Company factory at Hirado 1613 - 23; Company refused permission to re-enter 1673; voyage to Nagasaki 1808; Japanese occupation of Burma in World War II etc.
Main sources: E/3; G/12, 40; L/PS/12; L/WS; M

East India trading contacts from Patani 1615 - 23; factory near Phnom Penh
1651 - 56.
Main sources:
E/3; G/12

Indians overseas

East India Company’s brief contacts in late 18th century; Political Agency from 1904 onwards under control of Government of India (except between 1921-33 when the Agency was primarily under Colonial Office).
Main sources: L/PS; N/12; P (India Foreign); R/15

Penang (Prince of Wales Island) acquired by the Company 1786 and constituted as a separate Presidency in 1805; Malacca occupied 1796 -1818 and ceded by Holland in 1825; Singapore and Malacca added to Penang Presidency 1826; Penang Presidency dissolved 1830 and Straits Settlements as a whole placed under Bengal Government until 1851 when they were put directly under Government of India; Straits Settlements transferred to Colonial Office 1867.
Main sources: E/3-4; F/4; G/34; H; 1/2-3, L/PJ/3; L/PS/5-6; P (Bengal; India); R/9

East India Company’s interest during 18th century French wars; British Indian forces involved in conquest of Mauritius 1810
Main sources: E/4; H;  I/1; L/PS
See also Indians overseas

East India Company Residency 1800-10; Agency revived in 1840 reporting via Resident in Bushire to Bombay until 1873, and subsequently to Government of India until 1947.
Main sources: E/4; F/4; L/MAR; L/PWD/7 L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/15

Regular contacts with Bengal Government from second half of the 18th century; Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16 led to appointment of British Indian Resident at Kathmandu from 1817; Resident redesignated as Envoy 1920 and as full British Minister from 1934 (under Foreign Office but in close contact with Government of India still).
Main sources: E/4; F/4; H; L/MIL; L/P&S; P (Bengal Secret/Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign); R/5
See also
Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal: sources in the India Office Records

Other European Powers
The East India Company’s close relations and rivalries with other European powers in South and South-East Asia (e.g. the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, the Danes etc) form an essential aspect of its own rise to predominant power in India from the early 17th to the mid-I9th century; under Crown rule (1858-1947) only Portuguese and French still retained territorial enclaves in the Sub-continent (notably at Goa and Pondicherry).
Main sources: E/3-4; F/4; G; H; I; L/PS; P (India Political/Foreign; Bengal Secret/Political/Foreign; Madras Secret/Political/Foreign; Bombay Secret/Political); R/9; R/10; R/15
Anglo-Dutch blockade 1620-22; East India Company involved in temporary British occupation 1762-64.
Main sources: E/3-4; G/12; H; L/MAR; P (Madras Military)

Other European Powers

British Indian interest exercised mainly through Political Resident at Bushire during 19th century and up to 1938 when immediate responsibility passed to Political Agent in Bahrain.
Main sources: L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/15

Continuous British Indian political interest in Russian Central Asia from mid-19th century onwards.
Main sources: L/PS; R/12
Central Asia: Guide to sources in the India Office Records

St Helena
An East India Company possession 1659-1836.
Main sources: E/3; G/32, 40; H; L/PS/1; N/6

Saudi Arabia
Slight East India Company contacts during 17th and 18th centuries through trade in Red Sea area; British Indian political interests in Eastern Arabic/Najd from early 19th century generally managed through Residents and Agents in Gulf and Iraq; main responsibility for British relations passed to Colonial Office 1922/23 (and later to Foreign Office) but Indian Government still involved.
Main sources: E/3-4; F/4; G/17; L/MAR; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/15; R/20

Regular contacts with Bengal Government from 1814; under successive treaties (1817 and 1861) Sikkim became a virtual British Indian protectorate in political relations with Bengal Government until 1903 and thereafter with Government of India; a Political Officer in Sikkim from 1889 onwards.
Main sources: E/4; F/4; H; L/PS; P (Bengal Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/1
See also Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal: sources in the India Office Records

Settlement established by Sir Stamford Raffles 1819. For further details see under Malaysia.


East India Company had occasional contacts in early 19th century mainly for shipping facilities; Somali Coast Protectorate under Government of India 1885-98; responsibility for the Protectorate passed to Foreign Office 1898 (and later to Colonial Office) but Indian Government had continuing interest in the area.
Main sources: L/MIL; L/PS; P (India Foreign); R/20

South Africa
East India Company ships frequently stopped at Table Bay from 17th century; Company agent in Cape Colony 1795-1836.
Main sources: E/3-4; G/9; H; I/2
See also Indians overseas

Soviet Union


Sri Lanka
East India Company’s diplomatic/commercial relations from mid-18th century; conquest and administration by Company 1795—1802; Ceylon made Crown Colony under Colonial Office 1802; later British Indian interest in trade, emigration etc.
Main sources: E14; G/11; H; I; P (Madras)
See also Indians overseas

East India Company used overland route via Syria for conveying correspondence from early 17th century; Company agents intermittently stationed at Aleppo or Damascus from late 18th to mid-19th century to transmit despatches.
Main sources: E/1; H; L/PS

East India Company factory 1672-85
Main sources: E13; G/12, 40

Indians overseas

East India Company factories at Patani 1613-24 and Ayutthaya 1615-23, 1661-64 and 1674-84; regular British Indian diplomatic relations 1821-1947 mostly concerning boundaries with Burma and Malaya, extra-territorial rights, trade etc.
Main sources: E/3;  G/12, 19, 21;  L/PS; P (Bengal Secret/Political, India Secret/Political/Foreign)

Early contacts with Bengal Government during 1760s intensified under Warren Hastings 1771-72; occasional British Indian attempts to open up relations with Tibet during period from 1772 to 1904 (acting through China during late 19th century); after Lhasa expedition of 1904 more regular relations established with Tibet through Political Officer in Sikkim, Trade Agents at Gyantse and Yatung, and various British Indian missions to Lhasa.
Main sources: E/3-4; F/4; H; L/MIL; L/PS; P (Bengal Public/Secret/Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign); R/5
See also Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal: sources in the India Office Records

under Indians overseas

East India Company agents in Istanbul from late 18th to mid-19th century mainly to transmit despatches; British India’s political interest in Ottoman Empire’s expansion in Arabia from early 19th century and in the role of the Caliphate in early 20th century.
Main sources: E/3-4; L/PJ/6; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Secret/Political/Foreign); R/15; R/20

United States of America
American trade with India and China from late 18th century led to appointment of American consuls in Indian posts during 19th century; impact of American Civil War on Indian cotton industry 1861-ó5; Indian nationalist leaders and Ghadr party in California c 1913—47; American support for Indian independence from World War II onwards.
Main sources: E/4; H; L/E; L/PO; L/PJ; L/PS; P (India Political/Foreign; Bengal Political/Foreign; Madras Political; Bombay Political etc)

East India Company’s trading contacts through Japan factory 1614-19; factory at Tonking 1672-97; attempt to settle in Annam 1695-96; embassy to Annam 1778-79.
Main sources: E/3; G/12, 19, 21

West Africa
East India Company trade on Guinea Coast based mainly at Fort Cormantine in Ghana 1657-62; trading rights then passed to Royal African Company.
Main sources: B; E/3; H

British India exploration and commercial/political interest from mid-I9th century; British Indian agent stationed at Kashgar from 1893 and designated Consul-General from 1911 to 1947.
Main sources: L/PS; P (India Foreign)
also China
Chinese Turkestan
Central Asia: Guide to sources in the India Office Records

Yemen Arab Republic
East India Company traded intermittently at Mocha from early 17th to early 19th century; British political interest especially through Aden (1839-1966).
Main sources: E/3; G/17, 40; L/MAR; L/PS; P (Bombay Secret/Political; India Foreign); R/19; R/20

Yemen, People’s Democratic Republic
British Residency established at Aden 1839 under Government of Bombay; Aden became a Chief Commissionership under Government of India 1932 and a Crown Colony under Colonial Office 1937 (Colonial Office also responsible for Aden Protectorate from 1921); Perim (occupied 1857) and Kamaran (occupied 1915) both administered from Aden; British withdrawal from Aden 1967.
Main sources: L/E/6-7; L/MAR; L/PJ/7-8; L/PS; P (mainly Bombay); R/20 (including records of post-1937 colonial period)

An agency established in Zanzibar mainly under Bombay Government 1840-73 and Government of India 1873-83; responsibility passed to Foreign Office 1883 (and later to Colonial Office).
Main sources: L/PS; P (Bombay Political; India Foreign); R/15/6