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The Thomason Family in India

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 Thomason family was one of many ordinary British families that lived and worked in India in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The only clue given at the back of the photograph is that Mr Thomason was a State Engineer at Jaipur, India in 1896. How can you find out other information about the Thomason family?

The Thomason Family

The Thomason Family at Jaipur, India, 1896. © The British Library Board.

Where to start ?

Eccelesiastic returns can be a good starting point. By checking the Map of India, we found out that Jaipur is a town in Bengal Presidency. From the Bengal Ecclesiastical series, in 1894 (presuming the baby in the above photograph was one year old), there is a Marriage Certificate of Mr Rowland Maxwell Thomason.

An example of a marriage record

An example of a marriage record from Bengal, 1894. IOR:N/1/236. © The British Library Board.

He married Florence Ellen Lukis on 28 March 1894 at Jeypoor (Jaipur). The Certificate indicates that Mr Thomason at the time was an Assistant Engineer serving at the Bombay Baroda and Central Indian Railway. The Certificate also records the fathers' names of both bride and groom. The age of R M Thomason was recorded as "Full" which means he was over 21 and therefore it is not easy to find his birth record.

How do you find R.M. Thomason's Baptism Record ?

Since the Marriage certificate does not indicate his age, the only way to find his baptism record is by presumption. Assuming he was around 30 at the time of marriage in 1894, he would be born around 1864. In the index of Baptism returns of Bengal Presidency of year 1864, the name R M Thomason is indeed registered in volume N/1/108. He was born in 29 May 1864, father's name Charles Simeon Thomason, which matches the data as recorded on his marriage certificate. Unfortunately there is no Baptism Record for baby Thomason (see photograph). It is important to understand that the Ecclesiastical Returns in the India Office Records are not complete and it is not possible to trace entries for all events.

R. M. Thomason's Baptism Record.

R. M. Thomason's Baptism Record. IOR: N/1/108, f.58. © The British Library Board.

Where do you find the papers relating to Mr Thomason's appointment and his service records ?

According to the marriage certificate, R M Thomason was an assistant Engineer working for Bombay Baroda and Central Indian Railway Company. If the company was owned by the Government of India, that would make him an Uncovenanted Civil Servant. Bombay Baroda and Central Indian Railway in 1896 was a privately owned company but subsidised by the government and therefore his name was listed in the Civil List of the Public Works Department of 1895 (V/13/209) as an Assistant Engineer with a salary of 500 rupees per month, without giving any other personal details.

Assistant Engineer

Assistant Engineer © The British Library Board.

There was no other way of tracing his career except looking up the Annual Civil List, from which we found out that his career stopped at 1919. By then, after nearly 30 years of service in the same railway company, he was promoted to the Chief Engineer at the end of his career with a salary of 2000 rs.(rupees) per month.

Civil List

Entry of Rowland Maxwell Thomason in the Civil List, 1919. V/13/230. © The British Library Board.

How do you find information about his ancestors ?

R M Thomason's marriage certificate gives the name of his father as 'Charles Simeon.Thomason'.

From the India Office Family History Search, we discover a card relating to C S Thomason, which subsequently give the names of his parents and grandparents.

THOMASON, Charles Simeon, 1833-1911
Maj-Gen, Bengal Eng. & R.E. W.W.W.I, p704
born 25 May & baptized 10 Nov 1833, Azimgurh, son of James, Bengal CS, & Maynard, Eliza.
N/1/35, f.239.
L/MIL/9/222, f.379 - Addis, 1849.

Any other information about his ancestors ?

Working on the basis of the above information, we traced various sources that are related to the direct ancestors of R M Thomason:

  1. Father: Charles Simeon Thomason, Major-General, Bengal Engineer.

    Baptism certificate N/1/35 (f.239), which indicates that his father was James Thomason;
    Military Records: Cadet paper to Addiscombe Military Seminary L/MIL/9/222 (f.379), a section of which is showing below:
    Addiscombe Cadet's certificate

    Addiscombe Cadet's certificate: Charles Simeon Thomason, 1849. L/MIL/9/222, f.379. © The British Library Board.

  1. Grandfather: James Thomason, Lt-Governor of the North-Western Provinces of India and Governor-designate of Madras.
    Dictionary of National Biography, 1900;
    Bengal Wills, 1853, 4a. (L/AG/34/29/88), James Thomason to his offspring;
    The historical records of the Survey of India by R H Phillimore:
    Survey of India

    Entry of James Thomason in Philimore's Survey of India. © The British Library Board.

  1. Great-Grandfather: Thomas Truebody Thomason, a distinguished chaplain of the East India Company, sailed to India in 1808.
    There is a tombstone inscription, as well as a brief biographical entry in the Chaplains of the EIC by S. MacNally.
    Chaplains of the EIC

    Biographical entry of Thomas Truebody Thomason in the Chaplains of the EIC by S. MacNally. © The British Library Board.