Can you help? ‘Forgotten’ Ancestors in Pakistan’s Former North West Frontier Province

The large city of Dera Ismail Khan lies on the west bank of the Indus river in Pakistan. In British days it became part of the North West Frontier Province, following the earlier capture of the Punjab by the East India Company in 1849.  It was a sensitive part of the great subcontinent, and this is reflected by the number of military graves in and around St Thomas’s Church in the city. Now Dr Qaisar Abbas Bhatti plans to publish a book on the church and cemetery and has enlisted BACSA’s help.  A fair amount is
known about those buried here, both military and civilian – many were noted by Miles Irving in his List of Inscriptions on Christian Tombs and Monuments published in 1910. This was backed up seventy years later by research carried out in 1983 by BACSA member Sue Farrington.  The Protestant church itself is small but sturdy and it contains a number of memorials to Britons killed during the so-called Third Afghan war in Waziristan in the 1930s.

In its cemetery lie a number of graves, including World War One casualties who are commemorated on the Delhi War Memorial.  Dr Bhatti estimates that there are about 68 in all. Major George Dodd, of the 27th Punjabis was the Political Agent here, a difficult task, one imagines, and he died aged 51 on 12 April 1914. Captain Edward William Codrington was serving with the 3 rd Sikh Infantry when he died on 22 June 1896, aged 36. Agnes Borthwick, the widow of John Borthwick, was aged 52 when she died on 28 October 1882. The wife of the Deputy Commissioner, Alice Isabel Neale was 34 at the time of her death on 14 February 1917 and Wendy Napier, infant, was only three years old when she died on 7 May 1914.  The latter names reveal that in spite of the dangers and hardships of this then remote posting, British families were living here too.

Dr Bhatti hopes not only to restore the cemetery, but to contact descendants and relatives of those buried there.

A list of names can be accessed at this link.

Should you believe you can assist with this research, please get in touch with Dr Rosemary Raza, BACSA’s area representative for Pakistan, at