ETHNONYMS: Castee, East Indian, Eurasian, Goan, Goanese, Mustee
This term has been used in two distinct senses. Up to about 1900 it meant a British person (whether of English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh ancestry) who had been born in India ("country born") and resided there. But since 1900 the term "Anglo-Indian" has been applied to those previously known as Eurasians who were of mixed European and Indian descent (they had been known in earlier times as "East Indians"). Anglo-Indians in this latter sense are found today in all cities of India, as well as in Britain, Canada, and Australia. The last census count of them, in 1951, identified 11,637 in the Republic of India.
The English have been going to India for 1,000 years. Possibly the first English visitor was Swithelm or Sigelinus, an envoy sent by King Alfred to visit the tomb of St. Thomas in a.d. 884. He is said to have returned home safely. An equally dramatic journey was that of Thomas Coryate, whose celebrated walk from Somerset to Ajmere took three years. But by 1615, when he reached India, English visitors were becoming commonplace due to expanding trade with the Mogul Empire. While there is no evidence that Swithelm left any progeny in India, many later European visitors did. It was Customary in Indian inns in the Middle Ages to provide a female companion for the pleasure of distinguished travelers. By the nineteenth century, the number of British residents was into the thousands, and most were male. Until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 it was common for unmarried Britons to keep an Indian mistress/housekeeper who would raise their children. After the opening of the canal, the journey became much shorter and easier, and thus many women went to India and married Englishmen. From then on the Eurasian Community became a stable, largely endogamous unit.
From then until now, these Anglo-Indians have been characterized by (1) Christian religion, (2) English mother tongue, (3) European life-style at home, (4) Western dress, and (5) employment in particular administrative and service professions that typically require fluency in English and a high-school education (e.g., the post office, railways, teaching, police, and nursing professions). The popular singer Engelbert Humperdinck is an Anglo-Indian.
In Goa and other Portuguese enclaves within the Indian subcontinent, there was from the sixteenth until the twentieth century free and regular intermarriage of settlers with local Konkani-speaking women. The history of their descendants paralleled that of other Eurasians in India. Portuguese born on Indian soil were called "Castees" (from the Portuguese castico, a term no longer used); whereas Creoles were called "Mustees" or "Mestiz" (from the Portuguese mistices ). In recent decades these Goanese of partial European ancestry have been assimilated into the Anglo-Indian community, though not without some resentment on the part of colorconscious Anglo-Indians. Goanese speak English, live in cities, and are Roman Catholics. It is often not recalled that the Goanese had another kind of link with Anglo-Indians: until the early nineteenth century one could buy slave girls in Goa, and some British residents of India did just that.
Gaikwad, Vijay Singh Rameshwar Rao (1967). The Anglo-Indians: A Study in the Problems and Processes Involved in Emotional and Cultural Integration. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.
Gist, Noel P., and Roy Dean Wright (1973). Marginality and Identity: Anglo-Indians as a Racially Mixed Minority in India. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Schermerhorn, Richard Alonzo (1978). "Anglo-Indians: An Uneasy Minority." In Ethnic Plurality in India, by Richard Alonzo Schermerhorn, 210-237. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
1. Now rare: relating to England or Britain, and India: Anglo-Indian ties.
2. Of English or British people and their activities in India during the Raj: Anglo-Indian words and phrases.
3. Of the community of Eurasians in India descended from European fathers and Indian mothers. The mother tongue of the Anglo-Indian community is English. In present-day India, an Anglo-Indian school is an English-medium private school associated with the community and a Christian denomination, but open to students of all backgrounds. Anglo-Indian English is a subvariety of INDIAN ENGLISH.
4. Relating to the body of writing in English centred on the Indian subcontinent and written by such non-Indians as Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, and John Masters, making use of forms of language appropriate to the cultural, sociolinguistic, and political contexts of the region: Anglo-Indian literature.