Pleased I could be of some help and I’ve done my best to answer your questions.
*** “he's never come up through Family Search before, so I don't know what I've done wrong”
> search; enter name: James Hill; birth place India (not East Indies that tends to be from census); 1855-1865 and you should see his record.
I used the wider range of dates, as by definition, age and/or DoB in death records are from 3rd parties could be inaccurate. Barbara Dixon has some insights to information on British BMD certificates that could be applicable to other areas see http://www.dixons.clara.co.uk/Certificates/indexbd.htm
*** “Would you suggest a search through the British Library records? Or, the FIB?”
By FIB I assume you mean FIBIS.
As I stated in my original message, the online India Office family history search only contains about 10% of their total BMD & biographies, so their online records are severely limited, but you should always check there first.
As for BL’s records and documents that are not online, if you don’t live in the UK or if you do, but can’t get to the British Library easily, then research via their records will involve the use a researcher and obtaining BMD registrations/certificates (3x cost of any available from the GRO, -England & Wales & Overseas) will probably involve quite a cost.
If you can get a reference for a BMD event then at least to you will only incur the certificate/record cost although if you are willing to accept a transcript in place of a copy of an actual record (always a risk) then like the record I identified, a certificate may not give any additional data and in any case you can always spread the cost of obtaining certificates.
FIBIS is quite different and has many useful resources and links that are free if you register with the site.
Although I have no personal experience of the site’s records, it does state they have transcribed records from the British Library’s India Office records, so it may have superceded the BL’s family search and could explain why it has not been updated for several years.
I can’t advise as to what their subscription will give over the free records, but if that gives access to record images, it will certainly be more economical that getting to or obtaining records from the British Library, although except for officers & civilians beware shipping lists as, unless they are travelling on a civilian vessel, they will not mention "other ranks" (NCO's and private soldiers) or their families by name; you should at least register for free access.
*** “The India Family link gave a message that the documents were removed”.
click on “advance search” (too many records for simple surname search); enter surname, 1855-1865; select area ALL > add; select baptism > add; birth > add; select search - three records returned including James’s.
*** “Does Courey seem like an Indian/native name to you”
No it’s not even an anglicised native word, but that doesn’t mean that the name hadn’t been in the “native” or mixed raced population of India for a number of generations. Perhaps like many family stories, your information has become distorted and born in India has become to mean native Indian rather than perhaps born in India of British or European lineage.
Checking all British records OPR’s (old parish records) BMD records, incl overseas ones, and 1841-1911 census, excluding variant spellings like Courtney or Curry, although the name is relatively rare with records in any group being less that 50, most are either De Courey (with French origins) or Courey with almost all early census heads of households being born in Ireland. I can’t say if the Irish origin is from the French or is some other anglicised corruption of a Gaelic name. It doesn’t help you much but it does suggest Annie’s father or grand-father may have also been a soldier from Ireland or had some other link with the East India Company who administered India on behalf of the British until the mid 1850’s when the India Office took over as the Administration of India and the Indian Army following the Indian Mutiny.
*** “Family stories say that James' father was Irish--could there be special units of the military in India which were Irish?”
No, don’t look at things as things are today, before 1921 when the partitioning of Ireland led to the creation of Eire (Southern Ireland), the whole of the island of Ireland was part of the UK and every regiment of the British Army had a large proportion of Irishmen in their ranks. It was a similar situation for the East India Company that administered India before the Indian Mutiny, they recruited its own soldiers, had their own ships and shore based staff, so could have employed Irishmen into their ranks, seamen or civilian staff.
*** “Can you recommend any sources of information for me to get educated?”
My information has been built up over a number a years from my joint interests in Military history & Genealogy and from those into a myriad of diversions into life in time past and I’m still finding new sources and learning new things every day; here’s a few starters for you.
There is no single source or book that covers British army or Indian genealogy; online but if only for free general information (Fibiwiki), contact with people with similar interests and more, then FIBIS is a must to be in your “book marked” web sites.
Then there’s Cindy’s List, the most comprehensive list of online resources of genealogical research worldwide and it’s regularly updated.
For help with information about UK records, especially linked older county and district names and descriptions is GENUKI.
Also as well as subscription sites, there are many sites for BMD and Parish records and more freely available online, I’ve contributed transcriptions to several myself. These can be very useful for England & Wales records as the GRO Index of BMD records is in fact a transcript of locally generated information produced when events were registered and for marriages a local index always identifies the spouse (including previous names if remarried) all can accessed via FreeBMD.
Records of some British services, e.g. Royal Navy can be obtained via the National Archives, Kew, their web site has many online records and research guides on a whole range of subjects see http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
> records; it’s also a very interesting website for all kinds of British historical records.
As for books, they tend to be subject specific, for British Genealogy, what’s available, where the records are and the number of references in its bibliography, Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History by Mark D Herber is considered as the key volume of British Genealogy; originally published in 1997, it was updated into a 2nd edition in 2005. If it has limitations, it can only be that many people tend to want specific information and some, especially those with limited UK ancestry, may only find small parts of the book of interest and not bother to follow up on the recommended reading; I would disagree with anyone who has a negative opinion of the publication and if they don’t purchase there own copy, then they should at least get to see a copy via their local library.
Although it contains information about the Internet, like all books none can keep up with the availability of online data that makes research so easy and dare I say “lazy” today. Many people are building family trees purely on secondary & tertiary records like index data, census records and other people’s research/trees and not verifying family links and even their own direct ancestry with primary documents like BMD registrations/certificates and parish records.