Q and A
WHERE CAN I LEARN ABOUT HIS INDIAN SERVICE?
Major William McKIE was my great-grandfather. He was born in 1808 in Scotland and died at Nunholm, Dumfries, on 7th July 1846, aged 38. He left a widow, Grace McKIE, and four children. He was a major in the East India Company and was in receipt of pay from the Company at the time of his death.
The only other information I possess is a record of a Major William McKIE who arrives in India in April 1838 on the ship Viceroy, departing from Liverpool with Calcutta as the destination. If this person was my great-grandfather, then he would have been aged 30 at the time.
William McKIE married Grace GRINDALL at Troqueer on 7th March 1841. It is possible that he may have had a previous marriage. In the 1851 census, Grace McKIE is described as a widow but with her is Agnes McKIE, aged 14, described as her step-daughter. Also, I have seen a copy of a will in which he names an Eliza Jane McKIE, his daughter, as an executrix.
Are there personnel records of the East India Company which would give me details of William McKIE’s career?
The records of the East India Company are all held at the British Library in the India Office Records, part of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB; tel: 020 7412 7873; www.bl.uk). There are several series of records that you could investigate and between them they should allow you to build up a comprehensive picture of Major William McKIE’s career.
The two main published guides are Biographical sources in the India Office Library by Ian A Baxter (3rd edition published 2004), and Researching Ancestors in the East India Company Armies by Peter Bailey (published 2007 by FIBIS, the Families in British India Society).
The main source for officers of the East India Company’s armies is the Cadet Papers, which cover the period 1789 to 1860. From about 1795 they give details of birth/baptism and education. Complementing these is a series of Cadet Registers 1775–1860. There is a related series of records, Cadets who Attended the Company’s Artillery and Engineering Seminary at Addiscombe 1809–1861.
Officers are also traceable in numerous manuscripts and published army lists. These survive for the Bengal from 1781, and from 1859 for Madras and Bombay. In addition to several series of official service registers and statements of service there are many published works; for example, for officers in the Bengal Army 1754–1834 there is VCP Hodson’s List of Officers in the Bengal Army.
With the possibility that William McKIE spent some time in India, and therefore may have married there and had children, you will also need to search the Ecclesiastical Returns, the surviving records of births, marriages and deaths. Many of these have been indexed and you can make serendipity searches using the BL’s ‘India Office Family History Search’ (http://indiafamily.bl.uk/UI) or the Families in British India Society (FIBIS) websites. Both these include references to records other then the Ecclesiastical Returns. You should certainly take a look at the FIBIS website (www.fibis.org) and consider joining this excellent and very active society.
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