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Maritime Service

These pages provide guidance to family historians on how to use sources from the India Office Records such as occupational descriptions or types of documents (wills, pensions or ecclesiastical records for example).

The Marine Records of the India Office c.1600-1879 (L/MAR series) cover most aspects of the organisation and operations of the East India Company's Mercantile Marine, the Bombay Marine, the Indian Navy and the Bengal Pilot Service.

East India Dock, London, 1806

East India Dock, London, 1806. Engraving: P838. © The British Library Board.

The Bombay Marine was the fighting navy of the East India Company in Asian waters, as opposed to its mercantile marine. In 1830 the Bombay Marine was renamed the Indian Navy. The Navy was abolished in 1863, being replaced by a revived, non-combatant, Bombay Marine. In 1877 the revived Bombay Marine and the Bengal Marine were combined to form HM Indian Marine, which became the Royal Indian Marine in 1892 and the Royal Indian Navy in 1935.

EIC Mercantile Marine Service Statements

Statements were compiled in 1834 when maritime servants received compensation payments at the abolition of the East India Company mercantile marine: L/MAR/C/849-850G. The payment applied mainly to those still serving in 1834 and was given to officers, surgeons, boatswains, carpenters and gunners. Complete records of service, also baptism certificates of applicants and marriage/baptism certificates for wives and children.

EIC Mercantile Marine Baptism Certificates

Baptism certificates and certificates of age for marine officers 1780-1820: L/MAR/C/669-670. Both volumes are indexed.
Baptism certificates and certificates of competence for midshipmen 1820-1830: L/MAR/C/671.

Passengers Lists

Most of the logs of East Indiamen 1702-1834: L/MAR/B contain lists of outward and homeward bound passengers. Other Marine records such as L/MAR/C/887 provide lists of passengers to and from India in various ships 1838-45. L/MAR/C/888 is a Register of deposits on account of native servants accompanying passengers to England 1838-58.

Outward Passengers' List on board Walthamstow to Calcutta, 1806.

Outward Passengers' List on board Walthamstow to Calcutta, 1806. IOR:L/MAR/B/196F. © The British Library Board.

Earlier passengers lists are also recorded in the East India Company Letter Books, 1625-1753: E/3/84-111.

Until 1833 permission to travel to India had to be sought from the Court of Directors. The copies of permission sometimes with the name of the ship can be retrieved from the Court Minutes: B series and Despatches: E series.

Published lists of passages to and from India are included in the Bengal Directory 1815-59, the Madras Almanac 1811-61 and the Bombay Directory 1817-56.

Ships calling at St Helena are recorded in the St Helena Public Consultations: G/32

For Military passengers, see Embarkation lists 1753-1861: L/MIL/9/85-106, and 1860-1914: L/MIL/15/38-48.

Forthcoming pages:

  • Bombay Marine1613-1830
  • Indian Navy1830-1863
  • Royal Indian Marine/Navy 1877-1948
  • Pilot Services 1790-1947