India Emigration and Immigration
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Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigration) or coming into (immigration) a country. These lists are usually found as passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, and records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, ports of emigration, and occasionally places of origin or birthplaces.
Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]
The British National Archives holds outgoing passenger lists in their record series BT 27 for the period 1890-1960, and incoming lists are in BT 26. The lists are arranged under the names of the ports of departure, and give the names of all passengers leaving Great Britain, their last addresses in England, the port at which passengers have contracted to land, their professions or occupations, and their ages.
The only immigration passenger lists provided in BT 26 are for the period 1878-1960. Unfortunately, there are no name indexes to these lists. To search the records one must know an approximate date of arrival or the port of entry. However, there are indexes to ships' names for the period 1906 to 1951 in the British National Archives record series BT 32.
At the back of the Bombay Calendar and Almanac and the Madras Almanac, there are lists of shipping departures from India to various ports in England. The lists include the name of the British passengers and notes the presence of a native servant. However, they do not usually give the name of the servant. Occasionally free native passengers may be named.
Publlished lists of passages to and from India are also included in the Bengal Directory of 1815-59, the Madras Almanac 1811-61, and the Bombay Directory 1817-56. The British National Archives holds some of these printed works, and the complete set can be consulted at the British Library. A register of deposits on account of native servants is held at the British Library, India Office Records under reference L/MAR/C888.
Passport Records[edit | edit source]
Duplicate identity certificates of natives of India proceeding to Europe 1900-17 (when their issue ceased) and duplicate passports from 1907 were sent to the British Library, India Office. Identity certificates 1900-1917 and passports for 1907-15 are at the British Library under reference L/P and J6. The duplicate passports for 1916-31 appear to have been destroyed.
Asian Immigration 1948 to 1962[edit | edit source]
Between 1948 and 1962, workers from British colonies could migrate to England without restriction. The immigrants from India can be traced through passenger lists. However, some immigrated to Great Britain and then quickly returned to India. Some examples are: Students who had completed their education, ayahs (nannies), servants, and nurses after their time of service.
Under the British nationality Act of 1948 and until 1962, every Commonwealth citizen was entitled to enter Great Britain at will. Citizens of British colonies or British protectorates could simply apply to the Home Office for registration of British nationality and were issued certificates. This right had been freely exercised for many years, but it was only in the ten years from 1952 onward that substantial numbers of people from the Commonwealth began to think of settling in England.
Post-1962 Immigration[edit | edit source]
Some case files of the Immigration Appellate Authorities are held at Kew in Lord Chancellor's Department record series LCO 42 (1971-97). There are 875 files, most of them subject to closure periods ranging from 30 to as much as 75 years. Many of the files contain photographs.
A Commonwealth citizen who wanted to work and settle in the United Kingdom had to obtain a Ministry of Labour Voucher, which was issued under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and 1969. The vouchers were issued in three categories:
- Category A for applications by employers in this country who had a specific job to offer to the particular Commonwealth citizen
- Category B for applications by Commonwealth citizens without a specific job to come to but with certain special qualifications (such as nurses, teachers, and doctors)
- Category C for all others
Applications for Employment Vouchers are in record series LAB 42. The series consists of vouchers that were not used, canceled or rejected, and the reasons given for the ruling under the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts of 1962 and 1968. Normally they contain:
- Original letters from the applicant to the Ministry of Labour
- Correspondence from the Department of Employment to the applicant
- Original application forms, which contain name of the applicant, date of birth, occupation, number of passport, special qualifications, and details about previous service in the armed forces
- Photographs of the applicant
The applications sometimes used the original voucher and are an excellent source for family historians.