Society of Genealogists India Sources now on Findmypast

The Society of Genealogists'  Women in India Index cards (available for free to SoG members as part of the SoG Data Online on the Society's website)  are now also published as the British in India data set on the findmypast website

The Women in India Index was compiled by Major Vernon Charles Padget Hodson (1883-1963), Lt. Col. Herbert Kendall Percy-Smith FSG (1897-1975) and others.These card formerly comprised a subset of the Hodson Index at the National Army Museum. Compiled originally by the author of Hodson’s List Officers of the Bengal Army 1754-1834 (4 vols, 1927-1947) and bequeathed to the NAM after his death, the full index contained biographical and service data on the families and officers of all the East India Company’s armies and was continued to 1947 by other researchers, principal among them Lieutenant-Colonel (Hubert) Kendall Percy-Smith. As part of the incorporation of data after Colonel Kendal Percy-Smith's death when he too bequeathed his papers to the National Army Museum, it appeared that the information on these cards was also available in the main Hodson index, albeit traceable by male relations. They were thus duplicate to NAM's requirements and so these 'female' cards were passed to the Society of Genealogists.

The cards documents female relatives of officers of the Bengal Army, Madras Army and Bombay Army, along with British civil servants, chaplains, merchants, plantation owners, labourers and British people in India after the East India Company period. The index cards are full of biographical and genealogical information about people from all parts of society.

The records are an excellent source for a family historian with ancestors who went to India. Each card provides great detail and can help link together different relations within your family tree. For example, in the records, we discover that, Mary Swinton, daughter of Colonel William Swinton HCS, died at the age of 90 on 20 March 1917 in Charlton, Kent. Not many death records would have recorded Mary’s father’s name, especially since she died at the age of 90.

In another card, there is a plethora of biographical detail about Samuel Smith’s family. On 26 August 1811, Smith married Miss Mary Elizabeth Hyde. They had three daughters: Martha Rose Diana, Frances Cordelia and Georgiana Mary. The card has also included the names of the daughters’ spouses, the rank of their husbands and the date of their marriages. From this one record, you would be able to add seven more names to your family tree.

Hodson contributed many valuable articles to the journal Bengal Past and Present and to the Genealogists’ Magazine including a series of articles “Some Families with a Long East India Connection” Many of the Women in India cards may reference these and his work on the Officers of the Bengal Army which, according to his obituary in the Genealogists’ Magazine, is “packed with biographical and genealogical information on may thousands persons, sprung from all levels of society. Here we find the sons, [wives and daughters] of plumbers, glaziers and hairdressers rubbing shoulders with a natural son of Frederick Prince of Wales and with the young aristocracy of the eighteenth century"

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