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Q Having just read your article on tracing British births in India and following your guidelines, I am still very stuck. I am trying to trace my grandfather, Richard FOSTER, and his brother William who, I believe, were born in India (East Indies). Their father, my great-grandfather Thomas FOSTER, was in the army. Richard FOSTER’s date of birth was about 1870, and William’s was about 1873. The areas given on the paperwork from are Multan, Subathu or Subattor, East Indies, which could be misspelt. The boys and my great-grandfather then appear back in Wales in the 1881 census, by which time their mother seems to have died and great-grandfather (Thomas FOSTER) has remarried, starting a second family. My grandfather (Richard FOSTER) is listed as working as a merchant’s clerk, aged 11 years old, and William as a scholar. I would dearly love to trace their births and name of their mother at time of birth. Any help and advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Ms Marcelle F Harden

A The FamilySearch information you refer to is from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and is for the births of William FOSTER (born 11th February 1867 and christened 17th February 1867 in Agra, West Bengal), Thomas FOSTER (born 8th December 1869 and christened 21st December 1869 in Subathoo, West Bengal) and William Walther FOSTER (born 29th July 1872 and christened 4th August 1872, Multan, West Bengal) all sons of Thomas and Lucy FOSTER. So you do already have the required birth details and know the forename, at least, of their mother The entries are taken from the ‘Bengal Presidency Ecclesiastical Returns’. The original Returns are held among the India Office Records, part of the India, Pacific and Africa Collections at the British Library (96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB; tel: 020 7412 7873; They were contemporary copies of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials which were sent to London for the information of the East India Company and the India Office. However, you can order copies of microfilms of these records through your local LDS Family History Centre for a small charge. Reference to around 300,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials in the India Office Records, together with reference to a many other records, is now available via the India Office Family History Search at You need to view these records as they will give you more information than is to be found on the IGI. You should also search the Ecclesiastical Returns for the death and burial of William, which must have been between 1867 and 1872; also for Lucy FOSTER, after 1872, although this may have been in England or Wales after the family returned. And of course you need to search these records for the marriage of Thomas FOSTER and Lucy, although they may have been married in England, or somewhere else. The Families in British India Society is essential for anyone researching British India. On its website ( non-members can make basic searches but the facility is greatly expanded for FIBIS members Assuming that Thomas was still in the British Army when William Walther was born (this could be an error for Walter) then he must have been discharged between 1872 and 1881. As described in answer to Sara Vallard’s question above, you should search for any surviving British Army Service Record at The National Archives. If these papers are found then they may include details of Thomas and Lucy’s marriage.

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