Find your ancestors in British India Office Assistant Surgeons

Included in this collection from the British Library are transcripts and images of the original documents. Transcripts will generally include the following information:

  • Name
  • Birth year and date
  • Baptism year
  • Birthplace
  • Appointment year
  • Archive reference
  • Catalogue description

Images will often include additional information:

  • Declaration and Schedule of Qualification form, filled out by the candidate, which includes information on any education received or if licensed, place of residence, and voluntary examination details (for example, we learn that Clarence Barrymore Harrison will undergo the voluntary examination for the following fields: in all the natural sciences and French)
  • Form of Declaration for Candidates for Appointments under the Indian Government – candidates must attest that they are of sound body and mind. There is additional room to mention any known ailments.
  • Baptism record including birth and baptism date, parents’ names, abode, occupation, and who performed the ceremony.
  • Letter(s) of recommendation, which often include wonderful insights into your ancestor’s character. For example, we read the following from Clarence Barrymore Harrison’s letter of recommendation: ‘I have known Mr. C.B. Harrison for some time, and have been constantly hearing of him from a relative of my own. I heartily bear testimony to his moral character as being all that one can desire, and I believe him to be a young man of regular and steady habits’.

As most will include multiple images, be sure to use the previous and next buttons to view all the documents associated with your ancestor.

Key facts about the British India Office Assistant Surgeons

  • The East India Company's medical men were first organised into a regular service in 1764.
  • In 1788, they were granted commissions and a promotion ladder – assistant-surgeon, surgeon, surgeon-major and surgeon-general appeared in each Presidency.
  • In 1773, the Company appointed a board in London to examine candidates for posts as assistant-surgeons. Like the officer cadets, the Company’s Directors nominated them. They had to provide a certificate of age, testimonials, and evidence of their qualifications. They took their places in an annual list of rank.
  • The India Act of 1853 opened the service to competitive examination and the first appointments were made in 1855. After 1882, the style 'assistant' was dropped, and in 1896 the separate Presidency establishments were amalgamated into a single Indian Medical Service.

Find out more

The almost 2.5 million British In India records are sourced from the original India Office Records and Private Papers held by the British Library. These records comprise the archives of the East India Company (1600-1858), the Board of Control or Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India (1784 – 1858), the India Office (1858-1947), the Burma Office (1937-1947), and a number of related British agencies.