Record's show Cameron's links with East India Company

Record's show Cameron's links with East India Company

British Prime Minister David Cameron's links with the East India Company have come to light after nearly 2.5 million records chronicling the lives of Europeans under the British Raj were made available online.

India Office Records went online this week shedding light on the lives of Europeans under the British Raj between 1698 and 1947. The documents show that Cameron's great great great great grandfather was John Talbot Shakespear, a senior bureaucrat with the East India Company.

They also show that Cameron is a distant cousin of television comic Al Murray, related through Kolkata-born novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair."The newly-released records cast light on the careers and family lives of expats, the significance of the East India Company, the offices of power, infant mortality, Anglo-Indian marriages, family relationships, and the lives of women in India," Find My Past, the website behind the project, said.

"The details of expats' lives and deaths are documented in a variety of records ranging from returns of baptisms, marriages and burials, civil and military pensions and wills," it said. The collection has been made available in partnership with the British Library, which holds these records in the original form or on microfilm at its reading rooms in London.

"The Company and the India Office demanded detailed information from India in order to be able to manage their business there...These documents and the copies of numerous wills reveal the lives of people such as planters, entrepreneurs, missionaries and others in India who were not associated with the Company or government of India," the library said.

The files also include baptism records of writers like Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell, who were both born in what was then British India. The East India Company and the India Office required people with a wide range of skills to work in their military and civil services and to manage relationships with Indian princes and with strategically important areas such as Afghanistan and the Gulf.

Like any employer, they needed information to enable them to recruit the right people and to manage them once they were in post. These records have been described as a "gold mine" for those curious to trace their Raj ancestry. 

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