Expert Workshop: Charity Fundraiser


As part of the Expert workshops series, Hilary Tulloch IGRS, will be speaking on Irish family history and the records of the India office.

This event on the 12th of September is a Gala event for “Up the Hill with Jack and Jill.”
Our previous fundraiser in September 2014 was a great success, and we hope to make a difference again this year with your donations on the day.

Speaker: Hilary Tulloch

Hilary Tulloch 2015

Hilary’s talk is entitled:

The Lure of the East: The Irish in the India Office Records

Date: 12th of September

Venue:Seminar room, National Library of Ireland


The East India Company, with its headquarters in London, was the first global corporation. It kept copious records and, in 1801, the Directors established a library for the official Company archives and the safe-keeping of books and manuscripts in their care.

It has been estimated that, at this point, 55% of the employees were of Irish origin. Irishmen worked on the railways, in the forests and on printing presses as well as in hotels, as tailors and grooms. In addition to the Indian sub-continent, Irishmen worked in Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Many were soldiers, some were sailors. A third of the Victoria Crosses awarded in the Indian rebellion went to men born in Ireland.

After 250 years of trading throughout south-east Asia, the East India Company was abolished in 1858. Its records and library were taken over by the newly appointed India Office, which controlled the administration of most of India and British colonies around the Indian Ocean and as far afield as St Helena.

After Indian independence in 1947, the material became part of the public records of the United Kingdom. It is now housed in the British Library at St Pancras, London. The official archives are complemented by collections of private papers relating to the British experience in India.

Despite generational upheavals, a mass of biographical information remains. Every upper and upper middle-class family had some connection with the East India Company and, it is also now becoming obvious, that very many ordinary families did too, as soldiers, sailors, traders and administrators.

‘The British’ were in India for 350 years. For all but the last 25 years, we Irish were ‘the British’. The workshop will look at this period of history and examine the records it generated.


As a family historian, Hilary is interested in the context of the lives of her ancestors. Her grandmother was immensely proud of her Irish heritage, with stories about the long line of military men from whom she descended. Early in life, Hilary loved to draw family trees connecting people from her grandmother’s stories. Later she wanted to know more about them as individuals, where they lived and the choices they made.

Like many of her ancestors, Hilary has lived an itinerant life. Before returning to Ireland, she lived in Bermuda where she undertook research for the Bermuda National Trust’s Architectural Heritage series of books, on pre-1900 houses and their occupants, in many cases families who had left 17C England for a life in the New World.

In addition, and together with her husband, she transcribed and photographed the historic graves and memorials on the islands. Many commemorated naval and military families from the age of sail when Bermuda was the hub of the North Atlantic. Their work was published in 2011 by the Bermuda National Trust and National Museum of Bermuda under the title Bermuda Memorial Inscriptions.

Hilary’s interest in India derives from her military heritage and she is currently annotating her grandfather’s letters, written during the First World War to her grandmother who was living here in Dublin. She sends these to their descendants, who live around the world, as daily emails, a way of bringing history to the younger generations.

The early years of her grandparents’ married life had been spent in India and Burma and her father later joined the Indian Army as a young man. Hilary’s parents too, spent their early married life in India and Burma so that she grew up hearing about Kashmir and Delhi as though they were Kilkenny and Dublin.

Hilary later found that her husband’s ancestors had a far longer involvement with the British in India and she spent many hours in the India Office Collection discovering their history.

Earlier this year Hilary was able to look at her father’s service record, recently released under the Data Protection Act, which included his application forms as a seventeen-year-old. A few weeks ago, she found original diaries of her great-grandmother’s first cousin who lived in India in the 1840s and 50s. Hilary is keen to share her infectious enthusiasm for this wonderful archive, under-used among Irish researchers of family history.

These are free ticketed events.

To apply for a ticket please email


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