I have developed, updated and corrected the material below in a subsequent post – A Dracup dynasty is founded in India – published in January 2017.
This is the first in a series of posts describing how Dracups from England established themselves in other parts of the world during the Nineteenth Century.
Part one deals with the arrival of Dracups in India. Part two is about emigration to Canada. Chronologically these were the two earliest Dracup settlements abroad.
There will be gaps in my evidence base and different sources don’t always agree. If you have additional material about the people mentioned in this post – or can correct errors in my interpretation – do please let me know.
Isaac Dracup senior
My researches suggest that two Dracup men were establishing families in India in the first decades of the Nineteenth Century. They were Isaac (1770-1835) and Emanuel (dates unknown).
The map below shows India in 1765 and 1805 respectively. It includes most of the places mentioned in this post.
Here is another map of Southern India in 1800 which can be magnified to reveal further detail.
There is a record of Isaac’s burial in Madras (now Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu) on 14 November 1835 which also gives his age and hence an approximate year of birth. His first wife was called Angeline or Angelina – no surname. She was born in 1782 and died in March 1833, also in Madras.
I have identified two definite children: a daughter, Deborah, born in Trichinopoly (also now in Tamil Nadu) in January 1815 and a son, also called Isaac, born in September 1823 in Madras.
It seems that the elder Isaac was a soldier posted to India. Military records identify a man of that name as a private in the First Battalion of the 84th Regiment of Foot.
Isaac’s regiment and service
The 84th was raised at York in November 1793 by Lieutenant Colonel George Bernard. After service in the Netherlands and South Africa it was sent to India in October 1798.
The Regiment was initially stationed in Madras but from 1799 it alternated between Bombay and Goa. A detachment was sent to the Gulf in 1799-1800 and in 1810 it helped to capture Mauritius from the French, who were using the island as a base from which to threaten trade routes used by the East India Company.
In 1809 it was renamed the 84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot.
On returning to India it was located in Kattiawar, Kandeish and Kutch. In 1815 it helped take Kurnool and in 1817 took part in the Pindari War, also known as the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the outcome of which placed the East India Company in control of most of India.
One source describes the Kurnool incident:
‘Company officials came to believe that Alif Khan was using diplomatic gifts and letters to manipulate them into recognising Rasul Khan as his heir instead of Munawwar Khan. Alif Khan claimed that his eldest lived in a state of idiocy and hence was unfit to rule…What followed were a series of inquiries on the part of the Company concerning the true state of Munawwar Khan. From William Chaplin, the District Collector at Bellary, the Company learned that Alif Khan had placed him under house arrest and made several attempts to kill him. Outraged by this the Company in 1813 sent a small force to Kurnool to release Munawwar Khan and place him under the care of his uncle. When the time came for him to be installed as the nawab, however, his other brother Muzuffer Khan, declared himself the nawab and amassed roughly 4,000 troops to secure the Fort. Once again the Company responded with a swift military action. On December 8, 1815 a force arrived at Kurnool and declared Muzuffer Khan to be in rebellion. One week later, the Company’s army opened fire upon the Fort and forced the troops of Muzuffer Khan to surrender. Munawwar Khan became nawab of Kurnool and reigned for eight years before dying of illness. Finally in 1823, Ghulam Rasul Khan succeeded him.’
There is an extended description of the Pindari War here.
Interestingly there is a historical connection between the Indian and Canadian parts of this post: Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, served as Governor-General of India from November 1812 to 1823.
Part two describes how the Canadian Dracups settled in Hastings County Ontario. Both the county and Rawdon Township within it were named after the Marquess by Loyalists who were resettled there after the American Revolution.
Military records describe a muster that took place in Trichinopoly for a month beginning on Christmas Day 1814. Isaac is named in the muster record as a member of the First Battalion of the 84th who has recorded at least 14 years of service.
Note that the birth of Deborah Dracup coincided with the muster. This probably suggests that wife Angeline travelled with the troops.
Isaac returns to England…
The Regiment returned to England in 1819, regimental records stating:
‘On 28th May 1819 six companies embarked on the Albert from Madras; on 26th June the HQ and four companies on the Lady Nugent (Capts. Prendergast and Burns respectively). Albert arrived Portsmouth 9 November 1819 and Lady Nugent on 29 November.’
Chelsea Pensioner records give a discharge date for Isaac of June 1819. They include the statement:
‘This is to certify that Isaac Dracup, Private in Captain M Burns’s Company in the Regiment aforesaid, born in the Parish of Bradford in the County of York – hath served in the said Regiment for twenty-two years, two hundred and thirty-nine days…but in consequence of general debility and length of service is considered unfit for further service abroad and is prepared to be discharged.’
It describes Isaac as aged about 47, five feet five inches tall with dark brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion ‘by trade a stone mason’.
The attached statement of service shows that, prior to joining the 84th, he served two years with the 95th foot, beginning in July 1794 (so at the age of 21 or thereabouts).
The 95th was raised by Colonel William Edmeston in October 1793. It served in the Isle of Man, Dublin and the Cape of Good Hope, but was disbanded in 1796. Members were drafted into the India-bound 84th Regiment.
Incidentally, we also know a little of Captain Burns, Isaac’s commanding officer:
‘Burns, Matthew. — Ensign Scotch Brigade February 2nd, 1797; Lieutenant 84th Foot October 20th, 1801; Captain by purchase May 31st, 1808; Retired October, 1820.’
Another Chelsea Pensioner record from February 1821 gives Isaac’s age as 48, adding that he has served over 21 years in India and that he suffers from rheumatism.
…but then returns to India
It seems that Isaac was not too debilitated, as he must have decided to return to India shortly afterwards. Unless his wife also travelled back to England with him, he must have arrived by the beginning of 1823 at the latest, in time to conceive Isaac junior.
Following Angeline’s death in 1833, Isaac remarried one Ann Sear. The wedding took place in April 1834 in Black Town, Madras. Ann was 31, Isaac 61. He died a year later.
Black Town was the area around Fort St George in what is now Chennai. Here is a hand-tinted photograph of the area taken around 1851, some 20 years after Isaac’s death.
Isaac Dracup junior
Daughter Deborah is believed to have married Antony Brown in Belgaum, Bombay in 1837, but I have been unable to trace what happened to her subsequently.
The younger Isaac (1823-1912) married Angelica Bella Carvalho (1827-1899) in Bombay in December 1842 when Angelica was only 15. Her father is named as Domingas Carvalho.
My tree suggests Angelica was born in Portugal, but I cannot substantiate that. The marriage again took place in Belgaum, which was a major centre for the British Raj located strategically close to Portuguese Goa.
I found the younger Isaac’s employment record in the Bombay Civil List for 1877:
‘ISAAC DRACUP. Joined the service as Clerk, Revenue Survey, Southern Mahratta Country, Dharwar, 7th September 1841 ; Sub- Assistant Inam Commissioner, Belgaum, 15th April 1851; Assistant Inam Commissioner, Poona, 10th February 1855 ; Assistant Settlement Officer, Poona, from 8th April 1861 to 6th March 1862 ; Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, 1st Class (old scale), Dharwar, 8th April 1862 ; Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Ratnagiri, 30th March 1864 ; Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Satara, 11th May 1864 ; leave on medical certificate from 20th February to :21st May 1866 ; 2nd Class (old scale) Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Tanna, 24th April 1866; Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Dharwar, 1st June 1868 ; 3rd Grade (new scale) Huzur Deputy Collector and Magistrate, Dharwar, 18th August 1869 ; 2nd Grade Deputy Collector, 30th October 1874.’
Isaac was almost 90 when he died in Poona in October 1912.
Emanuel Dracup’s descendants
By contrast very little is known about Emanuel, except that his unknown wife gave birth to William Archibald Somerset Dracup in Madras in 1821.
It is possible that Emanuel is also Isaac’s son, but he would have had to have been born very shortly after Isaac’s arrival in India, conceivably to Angelina.
William went on to marry one Johanna Knighton (1826-1869) in Bombay in 1844 before fathering a large family.
This is almost certainly the same William Dracup initiated as a freemason into the Concord Lodge, Bombay on 22 September 1866, when he would have been aged 45. His employment is given as ‘clerk’. He is not mentioned in the 1877 Bombay Civil List.
Emanuel seems also to have had a daughter, Mary Ann, birth date unknown, who married a Robert Ritchie in July 1837. This might have been a short-lived marriage as a man of the same name (born in 1815 in Madras and baptised a few weeks later in Fort St George) married 15 year-old Charlotte Churchill in the same city just seven years later in 1844.
The chart below (click to magnify) shows the first three generations of Dracups in India as I have them, assuming Emanuel was Isaac senior’s son.
Isaac and Emanuel’s antecedents and descendants
I cannot link either Isaac or Emanuel to their families back in England, though there is a beguiling reference to a christening in Bradford St. Peter on 11 August 1776. This is incorrectly categorised as a burial record on Ancestry. It appears to read:
‘Isaac Dracup son of John [?] of Bradford, Comber’
The missing surname does not appear to be Dracup, so the child must be illegitimate. Here is a magnified scan of the entry.
I can’t decipher it but, comparing with the formation of letters elsewhere on the same page, the first is probably a ‘M’ or ‘N’ and the name ends with a double f – perhaps John Muff? Other records show that men called John Muff were living in Bradford at this time.
The Indian section of my family tree includes over 160 people. Some had distinguished careers in the colonial service during the later Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century. They include John Wright Sandford Dracup (1857-1911), a Bombay magistrate and his son Athelstane Hamleigh Dracup (!) (1887-1965), Superintendent of Census Operations in Bombay.
Several colonial staff returned to England prior to Indian independence. I don’t know whether the Dracup name still survives in India today.
8 thoughts on “Dracups emigrate to…India”
I have transcript of Isaac senior’s will and other information I can share with you. Not on social media, so will have to be via email! I am descended from Deborah Dracup & Anthony Browne.
Hi there this info as follows as told to me I believe Hilda Maud draycup married my great grandfather William paul aitkins in India. They had 3 children William died and Hilda remarried a Mr cox in Bombay india
I have Hilda Maud Dracup marrying a Hugh Samuel Aitkins in Bombay in April 1898. I can trace only one child at the moment – Christopher Edward Stanley, born there in 1903. Can you supply the names of the other two?
My researches suggest Hilda remarried, to Herbert Stanley Corke, in February 1922, also in Bombay. but died soon after on 6 April 1923. The second marriage record gives her birth year as 1890, but but must have been several years earlier.
Does this make sense to you?
Hi Tim I’m led to believe Hilda maud draycupp remarried a Mr Cox after her death he sold the family home placed my nan Kathleen aitkins in a home he basically abandoned William and Kathleen it took yrs for William to find Kathleen I’ve since been informed that he went back to UK with their inheritance he sold everything and went to uk
So the other two children from the first marriage were Kathleen Aitkins and William Aitkins, and the second marriage was to a Mr Cox rather than a Mr Corke? Do you have a date and place of birth for your nan and her brother? Did they too return to the UK or did they settle in a different country?
Hi Tim Hilda had 3 children mercy William and my nan Kathleen Mervyn was murdered in India Kathleen went and lived in UK William died in India sewri Christian cematary Williams birth yr is1901 Kathleen 1911 and I can’t seem to find anything out about Mervyn so far
Hi the family I believed lived in buyculla that’s where the big white house was that William and Kathleen lived in according to my nan Kathleen William became an engineer and apparently there is a magistrate in the family I’m still researching these facts with distant relatives in india
I’ve tried to reconcile your information with what else I can find online in my Ancestry Family Tree, called ‘Dracup (family dracup)’.
I think you also have an Ancestry subscription because I think I can identify you as a member? Take a look and let me know what you think.
Ancestry does hold what appear to be fairly reliable records indicating that one of Hilda’s first children was a Christopher Edward Stanley Aitkins (born 1903) and her second husband was a Herbert Stanley Corke (1863-1937).
I’ve found other information – especially the birth of Enid M Aitkins to Kathleen in 1935, before she married Harry Hartley – on the Anglo-Indian family forum. I think some of that might have been placed there by a relative of yours?
If there are any further gaps we can fill together, do please let me know!
Thanks and best wishes,