Indian Indentured Labour in Natal 1860-1911

Ship list of Indian Indentured Labourers

Approximately 152,184 indentured Indians arrived under the scheme of indenture making a total of 384 trips. The first ship the Truro arrived on 16 November 1860 and the last ship, the Umlazi arrived on 11 July 1911, marking the end of the notorious system of indenture. The ports of Madras and Calcutta served as the points of embarkation. The area indentured Indians came from, their caste, employers and places of employment, indenture number, name, fathers name, age and sex are given with each entry. 

The following is a list of names of Indian Indentured Labourers, their partners and children who were recruited as part the Indentured Labour System as a source of cheap labour for the white-controlled Natal colonial agricultural economy.

The list can be searched by: name, village, region of origin, religion, caste, names of Estates or Estate owners.

Guidelines for tracing ones roots

  1. The first step is to ascertain whether ones ancestors came as indentured labourers or as traders/passenger Indians. If either the male or female (or both) came as passenger Indians then their records may be traceable from the Who's Who or from family records and correspondences. The Home Affairs Department may be able to assist in this regard. The Documentation Centre has a complete set of the Who's Who.

    Use this link to find passenger Indians: South African Indian Whos Who,

  2. Indentured Indians. One needs to obtain relevant documents that would assist in tracing ones roots e.g. a certificate of indenture, certificate of discharge, an immigration pass, marriage certificate that has indenture numbers etc. It is not necessary that one needs documents of ones parent or grandparents. Documents of even distant relatives may be sufficient- as long as they lead to the same root (e.g. grandparent's(male side) sister's marriage certificate would have numbers that would lead to the same root as the grandparent (male)). Similarly, one could follow through with the grandparents (female) side.
  3. Not all persons were married on arrival. Some were single, came as children or as single mothers/parents with children. It is therefore important when looking up the registers to look for numbers before and after a given number for husbands, relatives and children, if any.
    The Documentation Centre has a copy of the Indenture Registers. 
  4. It is advisable to scan the documents when requesting information on one's ancestors - Often serial numbers of certificates or colonial numbers are confused with indenture numbers. Colonial numbers are assigned to those born in the colonies and are not the same as indenture numbers.

SAHO would like to thank Cassim Badsha and K Chetty for putting together the original database as well as Kyle Young for creating the present interactive and searchable database.


here

Indentured Laborers

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Last updated : 11-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 20-Jul-2016