Click here to skip to content

Glossary: P

A glossary of special terminology used in India during the British Administration.

Pembroke House
Lunatic asylum in Hackney, East London (1818-1870) which looked after former employees of the East India Company - civil, military, marine - who were certified insane while in India. Patients were either subsidised by the Company or, if their income was above a certain level, were obliged to pay their own fees. In 1870 the patients were re-housed in a new institution, the Royal Indian Asylum in Ealing, West London, under direct India Office control - this institution was closed down in 1892.

Pilot Services
By far the most important pilot service in India was the Bengal Pilot Service which was responsible for guiding sea-going ships up the Hooghly river from the Sandheads to Calcutta, and vice versa - the Hooghly, owing to its numerous shoals and shifting quicksands, presented special difficulties for navigators.

Pleader
The equivalent in an Indian High Court of a barrister in England.

Poplar Pension Fund
Provided benefits for disabled or otherwise unfit officers and seamen of the East India Company's Mercantile Marine, their widows and children. So-called because it originally came into existence to finance the upkeep of the Company's hospital-cum-almshouse established at Poplar in East London in 1627. Fund registers, mainly L/MAR/C/789-840, indexed at L/MAR/C/785-786 Payment books, mainly L/AG/21/7.

Preventive Officer
An officer of the Indian Customs Service employed in the suppression of smuggling.

Private
Ordinary soldier in the British Infantry equivalent to a Sepoy in the Indian Infantry and a Sowar in the Indian Cavalry.

Provincial Civil Service
From 1892 the name given to the upper echelon of the Uncovenanted Civil Service (q.v.). They held the higher uncovenanted posts of Deputy Magistrate/Deputy Collector in the Executive Branch and of Subordinate Judge in the Judicial Branch.
They were members of the domiciled Indian community and were recruited from the province in which they subsequently served. Members of the Provincial Civil Service are recorded in both the official Histories of Services [V/12] and Civil Lists [V/13].

Public Works Department
Government department responsible for buildings and roads, irrigation and railways. The history of Public Works organisation in India is quite complex. (See The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 4 pp 307-24.) Military works originally formed a branch of the Government of India Public Works Department but during the latter half of the 19th century they were gradually detached from PWD control and in 1899 became fully part of the Indian Army organisation under the new title of Military Works Service.