Previous posts on this blog have highlighted the collections of passports contained within the India Office Public and Judicial Department files. However, two fascinating files in the Kashmir Residency Records also have papers relating to passports for people wishing to travel from pre-1947 India.
The two files contain applications for passports to be issued or renewed from residents of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1943. They give details of applicant’s full name, place of residence, age, marital status, occupation, place and date of birth, information on children and spouse, and some applications have a photograph attached. Here are a few of the people who feature in the files:
Violet Gladys Stapleton, born St Albans on February 21, 1882, a nursing sister (missionary), residing at the CMS Hospital, Srinagar.
Captain Sydney Ernest, born Hertford on April 15, 1891, the guardian to the Heir-Apparent to His Highness of Jaipur. He gave his ordinary residence as Rambagh Palace, Jaipur.
Pamela Mary Rumbold, born Wales on September 1, 1916, the wife of an RAF officer, residing in Srinagar. She wanted a passport for a possible return to England in the event of her husband’s transfer there.
Sagi, born Gilgit on March 15, 1911. He gave his occupation as servant, and was proceeding to Kashgar with his employer Captain Binns.
With some of the applications there is additional correspondence. This is the case with Satya Pal Datta, born in Kotla Dattan in Mirpur District on June 24, 1924. With his application, he included a letter in which he wrote: “I am proceeding to Kenya for education purposes. My financial condition is most satisfactory and there is no apprehension of my being stranded there for want of necessary funds.”
A police check reported that he was of good character, and “there is nothing on record political or otherwise against the man. His father is really in Africa. He and his family are loyal subjects.”
The file contains three applications from tailors from Jammu City who wished to proceed to Palestine to work with Haji Roshan Din & Sons, contractors attached to His Majesty’s Forces. The three men were Mohamed Said (aged 27), Mohamed Azim (aged 32 years) and Mehar Ilahi (aged 30 years). A memorandum noted that the contractors had undertaken to maintain the three men and to pay their fare from India to Palestine and back. The applicants were reported to be fit and proper persons to receive the passports applied for by them.
Elizabeth Bell was born in Glasgow on September 22, 1911. In 1943, she was a teacher living at Burn Hall School, Srinagar. Wishing to return to Scotland to visit her parents, she reported that her passport had been destroyed. She was required to furnish the authorities with a declaration in order to get a new one.
In her declaration, she stated that her old passport had been issued in Dublin in 1929, and she had been residing in India since March 1930 and had taught in schools at Murree, Rawalpindi and Srinagar. She had recently been running a gown shop named Fitzgerald Gowns on the Bund in Srinagar, but it had been completely destroyed by fire on 30 March 1943. Her passport and teaching certificates were lost in the blaze. Her declaration was accepted, and a new passport was sent to her.
This article first appeared on the British Library’s Untold Lives blog.