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The church in Madras : being the history of the ecclesiastical and missionary action of the East India Company in the Presidency of Madras in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Volume 2) online

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Madras army at the time were serving many officers who had
taken Lord Cornwallis as then' pattern of a Christian soldier.
Some were then, or afterwards became, distinguished. The
names of Sir John Malcolm, Sir Thomas Munro, Colonel John
Mmiro, Colonel Charles Trotter, Colonel Colin Macaulay, and
others are honourable and still honoured ; and there is no
reason to suppose that, when these and others like them were
letting their light shine as examples of what a Christian soldier
could be and ought to be, they were not attracting others to
walk in like manner.

Owing to the German missionaries there was a better
provision of Churches and of Christian ministrations in the
Presidency of Madras in the eighteenth century than in the
other parts of India. It was this which made all the difference,
social and moral, between that Presidency and the others.
The difference was very great. When English men and women
are within sight of a Church building, within sound of a Church
bell, and under the influence of the good example of a Christian
minister, it is inevitable that they should think more often
of their Christian duty and conduct than those to whom such
advantages are wanting. So it happens that the public and
private records of social life in the south of India are less tainted
with scandalous stories than those in the north. Hickey's


Gazette i would never have flourished in Madras. Under the
gracious leadership of the ladies of Government House, to whom
Lady (Archibald) Campbell showed the way, Madras society
was at the close of the century busy about its own harmless
social diversions and the organisation of charities. In the
latter pursuit they were backed up both by the missionaries
and the Chaplains. In the estabhshment of the military orphan
asylums Schwartz and Gericke were consulted no less than
Millingchamp, Leslie, and Bell.

The dawn of the nineteenth century saw in Madras many
evidences of Christian activity .^ Leslie was dead, and the
people of the settlement had paid an affectionate tribute to
his memory by the erection of a monument over his honoured
remains and a tablet in St. Mary's Church. Schwartz and
Gericke were both dead ; many soldiers' widows and children
bewailed their loss, and preparations were being made to
do honour to their memory in similar ways. There were
many other changes; but the tradition of Christian kindliness
remained with those whose lot it was to live in exile.

It is much more difficult than it seems to realise the kind of
life led by Europeans in India at this time. In Madras itself
the civil and military officers who could afford them had
bungalows outside the Fort. The juniors lived in the Fort
itself in houses which were crowded together to economise
space. The sanitary arrangements were in an elementary
condition ; the moat dangerously unwholesome ; the lower
rooms of the houses sunless, and in the rainy seasons damp.
The first line of houses effectually kept the sea-breeze from all
the others. Up to 1791 there was a real danger in living
beyond the reach of the Fort guns ; more than once the suburbs
were raided by hostile cavalry, so that few cared to run the
risk of building bungalows. After 1793, when the first Mysore
war was concluded, there was no longer any danger, and a
number of private residences were built on both sides of the
Mount Eoad, and in other situations. At the opening of the
century a large number of the more important officials and
military officers and merchants had settled themselves in their

' Kaj'e's Christianity in India, 1859, p. 113.
- Compare Kaye's Christianity; d:c., p. 101.


new dwellings far away from the insanitary Fort and the
odoriferous river Cooum. They who were left in the Fort were
either on duty or were too poor to engage better quarters

There were a few up-country stations where there were
small garrisons and a Civil Resident. A certain amount of
uncertainty prevailed with regard to these as long as Hyder Ali
and Tippoo Sultan ruled in Mysore in alliance with the French.
The result was that no adequate buildings were erected as
residences m any of them. The civil and military ofi&cers
were sometunes by chance well housed, sometimes otherwise.
Theii- surroundings continually reminded them of the precarious
nature of then' own position, and prevented any large expendi-
ture by the Company over permanent buildings. The house
accommodation of the Company's civil and military officers
in Madras was bad, but in the out-garrisons it was far worse.
It was not an impossible life for a European lady, but it was
full of risks and discomforts, and few officers cared to ask
English-bred ladies to share such a life with them.

British soldiers both in the King's and the Company's service
were incomparably worse treated than any. There were no
barracks anywhere before 1805. They who were stationed at
Fort St. George or at places where there were forts, like Vellore
and Arcot, were accommodated in dungeon-like bomb-proof
casemates under the walls. They who were stationed at
walled towns like Trichinopoly mostly lived in the bazaars.
Beside these there were many both in Madras and elsewhere
who lived in tents. There was no accommodation anywhere for
married women. A certain percentage of these came out with
every British regiment. They found their lives in the case-
mates, in the bazaars, and in tents so unendurably hard that
many of them died ; some preferred the easier life of concubinage
with Europeans who were able to make their lot more tolerable.
Their hardships and the result of them convinced the British
soldier that his only chance of domestic comfort was to ally
himself with the women of the country, who were accustomed
to the heat of bazaar dwellings and wanted nothing better.
The native women were in every way fitted to do what the men
wanted, namely, to cook their meals, to keep clean their quarters,


and to manage their clothes. European women could cook with
a fire grate or a stove, but they did not understand how to
manage with two bricks and a bundle of sticks. Neither did
they understand how to keep a native-built house free of
vermin. Circumstances were all against them, and all in favour
of the native women. And so hundreds of alHances with the
latter took place.

It must not be hastily assumed that these alHances were
all of them improper and dishonourable to both parties.
Officers commanding garrisons and outposts were empowered
by the Fort St. George Government to join together such persons
in marriage. The civil servants of the Company had similar
powers with respect to persons in civil employ.! Between
1785 and 1805 all such marriages had to be reported to the
Senior Presidency Chaplain at Fort St. George, and they were
registered as marriages in a book kept for the purpose. After
1805 the system came to an end, for with the increase of Chap-
lains it was no longer necessary. Civil marriage was not at
that time recognised to be a principle of any importance. The
civil and military laymen who were authorised to join couples
together in marriage administered no oath, and adopted no
method other than the method of the Church. They opened
a Prayer-book and read the service before witnesses ; and the
marriage thus performed was held by the Government to be in
every way a binding contract.

In some places there were German missionaries in Lutheran
orders ; these also were empowered by the Fort St. George
Government to join Europeans together in wedlock. As a rule
both officers and men preferred their services when they were
available. The private register books they kept at Trichino-
poly, Tanjore, Palamcottah, and Cuddalore, which survive to
this day, show how busy the missionaries were in this

Neither the laymen nor the Lutheran missionaries nor the
Eoman Catholic missionaries professed to join together in
marriage anyone but Christians. The marriages they cele-
brated in their several ways they were convinced were Christian

^ See The Genealogist, vol. xxiii., ' Marriages at Fort St. George.'


marriages, holy matrimonies, in which non-Christians could
have no part. Tlie British soldiers knew this and recognised
the propriety of the exclusion ; they were more than a little
rough and reckless ; but they were themselves members of
Christ and children of God, and had been taught in their youth
some elementary Christian doctrines. They set themselves to
work to convert the women of their choice. Where there was
a missionary they took them to him ; where there was none
they taught them the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten
Commandments themselves, and then brought them to the
missionary for baptism. Then followed the marriage which
the missionary registered in his book.

In several of the smaller civil and military stations there
were Church buildings which had been erected by the joint
effort of the visiting missionary and the resident civilians or
the resident soldiers. Where there was a building the marriages
took place as a rule within its walls. It was a natural feeling
that the place hallowed the proceedings. Where there was no
building the marriages took place in private houses. In 1793
the Civil Magistrate of Cuddalore performed a marriage in a
private house, though there was a Church in the station.
Horst, the Reader of Divine Service, doubted if the marriage
was a legal one under the circumstances, and made this note in
his register book :

' Nuptiae Bantelmanni scribae cum Maria Karr 8vo.
Octobris 1793 a Civili Magistratu domi copulatorum parochiali
non possunt inseri libro, quoniam eo tempore ordinatus erat V.D.
minister C. F. Schwartz, cujus haec de jure erat provincia,
sed qui extra templum eos copulari legibus concordare
negabat.' i

There is nothing to show why the marriage took place in a
private house, nor why Horst did not perform it. At Madras

' ' The nuptials of the writer Bantelman with Maria Kerr on Oct. 8, 1793,
by the Civil Magistrate at a private house cannot be entered in the parish register
book of married persons ; because the very learned {valde doctus) minister C. F.
Schwartz, within whose jurisdiction the matter lies, has laid down the rule that
they who are married outside the Church are not married according to law.'

I am indebted to Mr. J. J. Cotton, I.C.S., for this extract, of which I have
given the evident sense.


a system had been introduced by the Chaplains twenty years
before by which they allowed — gave a special licence for — the
celebration of marriages in private houses in return for a double
fee. Some few of the richer persons adopted the system ; and
perhaps the writer Bantelman thought he was following the
highest and best European example when he did so too.

The Company made more than one effort to supply their
servants in India with wives by sending out batches of European
women, who were willing to go, to their several settlements.
Some of these married and some did not, and the effort was
pronounced a failure. The fault was with the Company. Their
selection was bad, and they had no receiving houses at their
factories where the young women could lodge under the pro-
tection and care of responsible matrons. An emigration
committee of ladies was wanted at home, by whom the character
and suitability of the candidates could be scrutinised. A
travelling companion of proper social standing was wanted on
board ship, with recognised authority to mother them on their
voyage out. A house and a chaperon were required at the port
of arrival, to watch over the interests of the young women
till their marriage. In the absence of these arrangements the
scheme failed, and the Company gave it up.

The old Charity School of St. Mary's, Fort St. George, made
provision for a small number of the Eurasian children of the
Europeans on the coast, and was sufficient for the purpose
between 1715 and 1765. After that date the increase of British
regiments increased the number of Eurasian children. The
Vestry schools at Trichinopoly and Tanjore provided for
some of the boys. In 1785 a large school for the Eurasian
daughters of soldiers was opened and endowed in Madras ;
and this was followed soon afterwards by a similar school for
their Eurasian sons. Officers could send their children to these
schools on payment ; or they could send them to schools more
private in character in Madras on the payment of higher fees.
Sons of officers by native mothers, that is with 50 per cent,
of European blood, were at a disadvantage. The Company
would not admit them into their civil or military service,
except in the lower ranks. Some accepted military service
under native rulers and rose to distinction ; but the generality


of them became clerks in the pubHc offices. Their sisters
generally married British officers, civil or miUtary. The children
of these latter unions would have 75 per cent, of European blood,
and were not barred by the Company from receiving appoint-
ments and commissions hi the higher grades of their service.
Many of the sons were employed, and the daughters took the
social position of their father and their European grand-

Similarly sons of soldiers by native mothers were not
allowed to be enlisted in the Company's European or the
King's regiments, except as buglers. They became the bands-
men and drummers of the native regiments. Their sisters
were much sought after as wives by European soldiers, especially
if they were educated at the Military Female Orphan Asylum.
The children of these marriages were for the reason given above
regarded as Europeans. The sons were enlisted as soldiers
in British corps, and the gnls were as eagerly sought after by
the young men of their generation as their mothers had been
before them. The young Eurasians in the public offices
requned wives as well as the soldiers, so that the girls in the
Female Orphan Asylum were ui much request.

In spite of the difficulty of obtaining Enghsh wives, there
were a few whose husbands were stationed m the mofussil,
and more than a few in Madras itself where the conditions of
life were easier. As a rule the children of such parents were
sent to England for their education, and returned to India when
this was completed. Some were educated in the private
schools at Madras, through the inability of then parents to
incur the gi'eat expense of the home journey and sojourn.
But as a rule the custom then was as now, for parents to
separate themselves from their children, to their own great grief
but for the benefit of the children.

It is this custom, this necessary custom, this obligation in
the interest of the young of both sexes, which makes Indian
society so different fi'om society hi England. It creates other
needs for the mothers. Men have then work, then- ambitions,
and their duties. Then lives are more or less filled up with
these alone. The interest of the work, the importance of the
duty, the height of the ambition fill up the gaps made by the


absence of the bairns. Mothers have not these things to fall
back upon. Domestic occupations in an Indian household are
too simple to occupy the whole attention. Literature and art
help to pass away the time of separation, but they are not
sufficiently distracting to bring content. Mothers under the
circumstances require something more than ' the trivial round,
the common task,' something more than pictures and books ;
they want distractions ; they invent amusements. And be-
cause they are as a rule both God-fearing and Christ-loving,
they cannot live happily without the opportunity of religious
exercise. The religion of the Church helps them to bear their
cruel cross of separation, and affords them opportunity to pray
for the absent ones in the most holy of all divine services.
Some credit for Church building in India in the past is due to
the civil and military officers, the Chaplains, and the mission-
aries ; but much more is due to the wives who felt the need
more severely, and who, without putting themselves in the
forefront, influenced their husbands for the provision of the
means of consolation they so greatly required.

Europeans in India have always been thrown back upon
themselves for their amusements. Professional caterers have
never found a sufficient return for their professional skill even
in large stations. If society requires a dramatic representation,
it must do it itself ; if it hungers after music, it must provide
its own players and singers ; if its young men yearn after
races, they must run their own horses and ponies, and ride
them themselves. Dancing, tournaments, gymkhana competi-
tions, and such like things all have their use in distracting the
attention from the ills that have to be borne. The young
and middle-aged alike delight in them ; the young because
they are young ; the middle-aged because they know that of
all possible distractions they are the most wholesome. The
occasional gaiety of an Indian station is a recognised attempt
to distract, and to compensate to some extent for the many
climatic drawbacks of the plains.

There is no reason for the too general belief that at the •
beginning of the nineteenth century all Europeans in all places
in India had adopted all the habits and customs of the country
which are morally indefensible. It is undoubtedly true that

VOL. n. I


some Europeans in some places had adopted some indefensible
customs and habits. But this is a very different statement.
WTiat prevented a general laxity of morals was the high character
of the Company's servants ; the Company's rules regarding
the moral conduct of those it employed ; the influence of the
Chaplains, the German Missionaries of the S.P.C.K., and of the
handful of Endisb ladies.



Sf. Johi's, Secunderabad. — The cantonment. The appointment of a Chaplain.
Building of the Church. Its enlargement. Its furniture. The old burial-
ground. The newer ones. The consecration of the Church. The belfry.
The further enlargement. Punkahs. The Parsonage. Division of the
Chaplaincy. Modern additions to the furniture. Memorials in the Church
and the cemetery. The Orphanage. The Mission. The St. John's
Institute. The Soldiers' Institute.

St. Man/s, Arcot. — ^The historic interest of the place. The early Chaplains of
Arcot. Building of the Church, Its consecration. Modern additions to
the furniture. Memorials in Chui-ch and cemetery.

St. John the Baptist, Secunderabad. — After the fall of
Seringapataro it was deemed prudent to have a British force
permanently stationed near Hyderabad, the capital town of the
Nizam's dominions, to assist the Nizam to maintain political
order in his extensive territories. The force was encamped
on a plain i about three miles north of the city in the year 1800,
and remained there several years before permanent barracks
were built. It was known as the Hyderabad Subsidiary Force,
and was paid from the revenue of the Ceded Districts. At
the same time the Nizam agreed to maintain out of the revenues
of the District of Berar another force to garrison the important
towns of Ellichpore, Aurungabad, Hingoli, Jaulnah, and Eai-
chore, with headquarters at Bolarum, which was a camp about
six miles from Secunderabad and N.N.E. of it. This was
known as the Hyderabad Contingent.^

Up to 1850 the Secunderabad cantonment consisted only
of the land required for military purposes by the troops at

' The cantonment was called Secunderabad by the Nizam himself ; see
Letter, Oct. 21, 1807, Political.

2 In 1902 it waa merged in the Indian Army.

I 2


Secunderabad itself. After that date new barracks were built
at Trimulgherry, midway between Secunderabad and Bolarum ;
the cantonment now includes all three places and measures
about twenty-two square miles.

There was neither Church nor Chaplain at the station
during the first twelve years of its existence. The Senior
Chaplain at Fort St. George recommended the appointment of
a Chaplain in his letter to the Governor in Council dated July
23, 1807, and the Government passed on the recommendation
to the Court of Durectors ; but they did not see fit to sanction
it.i Five years later the Government repeated the recom-
mendation, and asked for an increase of four Chaplains on the
Fort St. George estabhshment, in order that they might send
one to four military stations, one of which was Secunderabad.'-
This was one of the many cases in which the local Government
had special knowledge of a special local need. They therefore
acted on then: own responsibility and sent a Chaplain to the
Subsidiary Force without waiting for the Directors' reply.
Their previous delay seems to have been due either to a fear
that the Nizam would not welcome the appointment of a
Christian Minister to a station within his dominions, or that
His Highness would grudge the salary of such an official being
paid out of the revenues of the districts he had ceded. The
Government made inquiries, found that both fears were ground-
less, and wrote thus to the Directors : ^

' Having ascertained from the Resident at Hyderabad that
there would be no objection to the appointment of a mihtary
Chaplain to the British cantonment in its vicinity, we have
nominated the Eev. Mr. Brackcnbury for that duty, and have
provided for his occasional visitation of the European troops
at Jaulnah at such periods as may be determined to be most
convenient in communication with the Commanding Ofi&cer of
the Subsidiary Force.'

In the next paragraph the Government mentioned that the
Resident at Hyderabad had represented that there was no
place of Divine Worship at Secunderabad, and that they had

' Despatch, AprU 26, 1809, Public. - Letter, Oct. 17, 1812, 165-66, MU.
^ Letter, Dec. 31, 1813, 230, 237, Mil.


referred his suggestion on that point to the MiHtary Board for
consideration. Here again was a pressing local need which
the Directors had already sanctioned in principle. The
Government did not therefore wait for the reply,i but built
a small Church in the year 1814. It measured 66 x 47 feet
and was 19 feet high, and is said to have accommodated 300
men.2 A building of those dimensions furnished with com-
missariat benches without backs ought to have accommodated
at least 400 men and probably did. It was a plain building
with strong walls on good foundations, and like the other
military Churches already mentioned it had no external or
internal ornament of any kind. It cost Es. 16,300. Of this
sum Es.600 was collected among the officers locally. There is
nothing in the records to show why they collected this sum.
There was no rule at that time about paying extra for archi-
tectural adornment if it was required. It seems probable
that owing to the delay in providing the building the officers
of the garrison began to take the matter into their own hands,
as those at Masulipatam did a little earlier, and had collected
this sum when the Order of Government for the erection of the
building arrived.

The Eev. Joseph Brackenbury arrived at Madras in October
1813. He was sent at once to Secunderabad. He saw the
building of the Church, but he made no application to the
Bishop of Calcutta to license it for Divine Service. The licence
was applied for by his successor, the Eev. Henry Harper, in
1819, and arrived in June of the following year.

A Church which only seated 400 men was inadequate to the
wants of the garrison. In the year 1826 it was extended
eastward 36 feet, and the accommodation was increased by 200
sittings. The cost of the alteration was Es. 13,774. The new
part had no ornamentation. It was a solid piece of good
building like the old part. When the Government informed
the Directors of the necessity of enlargement, they mentioned
that the old building could not accommodate more than one-
fifth of the Christian inhabitants of the station.^ The Eev.

' Despatch, June 12, 181G, 131-34, Mil.

- Official Return of Churches, 1852.

3 Letter, July 25, 1826, Eccl. ; Despatch, Sept. 5, 1827, 11, Eccl.


James Boys was the Chaplain when the extension took place.
It w-as he also who, wdth the Lay Trustees, applied to the
Government for a supply of better furniture for the Church
in 1826. Tlie application was sanctioned.^

The old burial-ground, east of St. John's Church, was in a
spot chosen at the begmning of the century when Secunderabad

Online LibraryFrank PennyThe church in Madras : being the history of the ecclesiastical and missionary action of the East India Company in the Presidency of Madras in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 39)