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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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was merely a camp. It was not well chosen, for in the rainy
season it \vas a swamp. Having been once used for this sacred
purpose, there was no local inclination to change it after the
cantonment was laid out. It was surrounded with a wall in
1840,"- consecrated by Bishop Spencer in 1841, and closed for
burials m 1842. Notwithstandmg this, there have been
occasional burials m the Nonconformist and Roman Catholic
portions of it since that time. Bishop Spencer, in 1841, conse-
crated the cantonment cemetery opposite the Arsenal now in
use, and the burial-ground at Bolarum. In each of these there
was an artificial division between the English and the Roman
Catholic portions.^ In 1854 Bishop Dealtry consecrated
the cemetery at Trimulgherry. If the regulations in force
at the time were observed, a portion of this ground also was
reserved for Nonconformist burials. The Directors wrote*
in 1841 : ' We think it very desirable that on occasions of
enclosing ground for cemeteries a portion of it should in every
case be set apart for parties, being Christians, who may differ
in thek faith from the Church of England.' It was probably
on the report of Bishop Dealtry that, in 1855, the old disused
cemetery was drained and its wall repaired."'

Bishop Corrie of Madras visited Secunderabad in 1836,
accompanied by Archdeacon Harper. This was the first
episcopal visit. He confirmed 141 persons, but did not conse-
crate either the Church or the burial-grounds. The probable
reason was that he had omitted to secure the consent and
co-operation of the Government as owners of the land. Bishop
Spencer came better prepared in 1841. He had the permission

» Letter, Dec. 15, 182G, Eccl. ; Despatch, July 23, 1828, IG, Eccl.

2 Despatch, July 2, 1841, 18, Eccl.

^ Letter, Jan. 21, 1842, 3, Mil.; Despatch, March 19, 1844, Eccl.

•» Despatch, July 2, 1841, 18, Eccl.

^ Letter, Feb. 27, 1855, G-8, Eccl. ; Despatch, July 23, 185G, Eccl.


of the Government to set apart from all profane and common
uses by means of consecration all Churches and burial-grounds
built or laid out for the use of the Church of England. On
such occasions it is usual for the principal inhabitants to present
a petition begging the Bishop to consecrate. The petition to
consecrate the Church was signed by the Eev. G. H. Evans
and others.i It shows that the building was dedicated to God
in honour of St. John the Baptist. The consecration deed is
dated December 12, 1841.

At this time the Eev. G. H. Evans was the Chaplain. The
records show him to have been in many respects a notable
man. He was instrumental in promoting the building of
a Church at Bolarum and another at Chudderghaut. He
persuaded the military authorities to second his efforts to get
a belfry added to St. John's, not only for the accommodation of
a bell, but with a view to give the plain useful building a more
ecclesiastical appearance. The design was commended by the
Bishop and by Archdeacon Shortland, and was carried out in
1846 at the cost of Rs.2387. It is about sixty feet high.2
Evans was also instrumental m getting the Church enlarged
in 1850. He left Secunderabad in 1849 ; but it was his strong
recommendation that the work should be done which induced
Archdeacon Shortland to press the necessity upon the notice
of Government. This time it was enlarged by building two
transepts. The cost was Es.8629 ; for which sum additional
accommodation was found for 150 people. At the same time a
Vestry was erected at the new burial-ground for the use of the
Chaplain. The Eev. John Gorton was the senior Chaplain of
the station when these changes were made, but they were due
to the efforts of his predecessor.

In the Official Eeturn of Churches made in 1852 the total
cost of St. John's is said to have been Es.41,390. This sum
included the cost of the original building, the two extensions,
the belfry, and all repairs up to that date.

Secunderabad was one of the military stations on the
plains which contended for a long time that punkahs were a
necessity in the Church, and ought to be provided for British
soldiers. Time after time the Directors refused to sanction

' St. John's Church Records. - Oflficial Return of Churches, 1852.


the expenditure. In several garrisons, Secunderabad being
one of them, the British officers bore the cost and put them up,
and the congregation paid the pulling establishment. In 1854
the Government of Fort St. George decided to pay half the
cost of the punkahs and half the cost of the estabhshment.i
This decision caused the Directors to consider the question
more narrowly than they had done before. They consulted
retired officers, and they sanctioned the whole cost in the year

The Chaplain of Secunderabad is fortunate, like those of
Bellary and Wellington, in having a house set apart for him.
It is opposite the Church, and is known as the Parsonage. It
was one of the origmal bungalows built when the cantonment
was laid out, and was at that time allotted to the Chaplain.
It has been almost without interruption occupied by successive
Chaplains since that time. To prevent mistakes, the Govern-
ment through the Commander-in-Chief asked the General
Officer Commanding many years ago to regard the house as the
Chaplain's official residence.

The growth of Secunderabad and of the religious work
required of the Chaplains has a history somewhat like that of
Bangalore. Matters came to a crisis in the sixties of the
nineteenth century. The stations of the Hyderabad Contingent
in Berar received a Chaplain of their own. Bolarum and
Trimulgherry were made separate Chaplaincies ; Chudderghaut,
by an arrangement with the Government of the Nizam, received
a Minister of its own who was not connected with the Service.
Notwithstanding this relief the Secunderabad Chaplain still
has to visit three out-stations periodically; one of them, Yel-
landu, is the centre of a new coal field, and has a small
permanent Church of its own.

In 1888 St. John's Church was reseated at a cost of
Rs.3000.'^ Some of the old seats had been in use since the
first extension in 1827 ; some of them dated from the year of
the second enlargement, 1850 ; all alike were the worse for wear.
The reseating acted as an inspiration to the congregation to

' Letter, Feb. 9, 1854, 9, Eccl. ; Despatch, Aug. 29, 1855, 7, Eccl.
- Letter, Dec. 24, 1855, 7, Eccl. ; Despatch, July 23, 1856, 48, Eccl.
3 G.O., June 26, 1888, No. 90, Eccl.


improve the general appearance of the interior, and especially
of the choir and sanctuary. These were paved with ornamental
tiles. The lectern, a handsome work of art, was purchased by
the congregation in 1893 ; and the lectern Bible was presented
by Mr. S. D'Costa as a thankoffering soon afterwards. A
new organ was obtained, and one by one the altar ornaments and
hangings were presented by various members of the congrega-
tion. The spirit of improvement still continues ; for in the year
1908 another new organ was obtained at a cost of over Es.4000.
Most of these additions to the furniture of the Church were
made during the Lay Trusteeship of Mr. A. J. Dunlop, who
filled that office for many years with the most sympathetic

Of the memorial tablets in the Church there are two of
special interest. One records the death of Colonel Sir Augustus
Floyer, K.C.B., in 1818. He commanded the troops at Secun-
derabad. As an officer of the Hon. Company's 5th Eegiment
of Cavalry he was in all the principal campaigns between 1783
and the date of his death. He was the son of Charles Floyer
of the Companj^'s Service, who was Governor of Fort St. David
from 1747 to 1750, when that fort was the principal English
settlement on the coast. Charles Floyer married Catherine
Carvalho at St. Mary's, Fort St. George, in 1761, and Augustus
was born at the Fort in 1766. The other tablet commemorates
the death of Brigadier-General A. C. McMaster, who commanded
the Madras Brigade of the Afghanistan Field Force in 1879, and
died at Mooltan. Both tablets were erected by their friends
and comrades. There is a tablet recording the death of the
wife of the Eev. James Boys, Chaplain, in 1825, but none to
the memory of the two Chaplains William Tomes and Frederick
William Briggs, who died at Secunderabad in 1839 and 1843

In some of the cemeteries there are memorials of rulers and
soldiers of historic fame, especially in the burial-ground of the
Residency.! Here rest members of the families of Eumbold,
Russell, Palmer, and Yule. Monsieur Raymond, the talented
French commander of the Nizam's Foreign Contingent, a body
of disciplined troops under French officers numbering 15,000

' See J. J. Cotton's Moiimnenlal Inscriptions.


men, has a monuinent on a bill called after him,i about tbree
and a balf miles from Hyderabad. In the other cemeteries
the bodies of many gallant officers and men are buried, some
of whose names— such as Dalrymple, Desborough, Ditmas,
and Cherry — are well known in the history of the southern

At Secunderabad, as at other military stations, an orphanage
for the children of soldiers was established at an early period
in the life of the station. The exact date is not at present
known. The oldest records show that it was managed, like
similar schools elsewhere, by the Chaplams and Lay Trustees.
This leads one to infer that it was not established before the
year 1842, when there was only one Chaplain in the station.
In that year the Eev. G. H. Evans was relieved by the appoint-
ment of a Joint Chaplain. Subsequently other Churches were
built, which in turn were served by fresh Chaplains and fresh
Lay Trustees. These came on the committee of management
as they were appointed. In the year 1859 the Rev. J. J. B.
Sayers raised a fund to rebuild the school as a memorial of
God's mercy m preserving the Province from the horrors of
mutiny. Up to that time it had been known as the Orphanage,
and sometimes as the Vestry School. Dr. Sayers, being a good
Irishman,"^^ changed the name to the Protestant Orphanage and
Brigade School, and there has been trouble several times in
consequence.-"' For the new name seemed to imply that it was
an undenominational school under undenominational manage-
ment. But Dr. Sayers did not mean or intend this to be
implied. The management is still with the Chaplain of St.
John's, and the children attend Divine Service at that

The flourishing mission at Secunderabad was originated in
1840 by the Eev. R. W. Whitford, a Chaplain ; since that time

' The natives by clipping the last syllable knew Raymond as Monsieur
Raym, which they pronounced Myseram. The hill and monument are known
by this name.

- The Vestry School of St. Mary's, Fort St. George, and the Orphanage at
Bellary had their names similarly altered by Irish Chaplains (Despatch, March 10,
1847, Eccl.). In the former case the new name did not last. Their only inten-
tion was to enhance the respectability of the schools' names.

3 See the Diocemn Becord, July and Oct. 1888. '


it has been nurtured by successive Chaplains, and greatly
assisted financially and otherwise by their active interest. The
pioneer native priest was the Rev, N. Paranjothy, who
ministered at Secunderabad with great zeal and activity from
1842 to 1861. The native Christians worshipped at St. John's
till their own Church was built in 1853. This Church was
consecrated by Bishop Thomas Dealtry in 1854, and named
in honour of St. Thomas the Apostle by the founders, with a
possible reference to the Bishop himself. Connected with the
mission are four schools and an orphanage for native Tamil and
Telugu children.

Beside the Chaplains already mentioned there were many
who did good service in their generation, but who were not
associated with any striking ecclesiastical movements. They
were of all schools of thought, and all different in their methods ;
but all one in their devotion to duty. In later days the Rev.
R. J. Brandon established the St. John's Institute near the
Church, and the Rev. A. H. B. Brittain was instrumental in
building the Soldiers' Institute at Trimulgherry and the Church
at Yellandu.

St. Mary's, Banipett, Arcot. — The Port and town of Arcot
was the capital and residence of the old Nawabs of the Carnatic.
In the middle of the eighteenth century there was a political
rebellion, and the Nawab was slain. The cause of the
Pretender to the throne was adopted by the French at
Pondicherry, and that of the heir by the English at Fort
St. George. The Pretender led his army away from the
capital to join the French in an attack on Trichinopoly.
During his absence Captain Robert Clive marched with a
small force to attack Arcot. The capture of the walled
town and Fort was one of the most remarkable achievements
of the time ; and the subsequent defence of the place
against the whole force of the Pretender by Clive and his
adventurous followers, of whom only about 400 were Europeans,
forms one of the most thrilling stories in British military

The next thirty years were years of conflict. In 1758 Arcot
was taken by Count Lally and his allies. In 1760 it was
recovered by Sir Eyre Coote. In 1780 it was taken by Hyder


Ali, who destroyed the fortifications ; but it was recovered in
1783. Since that time there has been no serious fighting in the
neighbourhood. The walls of Arcot before their destruction
were five miles in circumference ; nothing remains now but one
gateway, called the Delhi Gate, about which of course there is
more than one heroic story.

The Fort was on the south bank of the Palar river. Ten
miles to the west of it is the Fort of Vellore on the same side of
the river. Thirty miles to the east of it on the north bank of
the river is Wallajabad. Fifteen miles south is the Fort of
Arnee. Forty miles to the south-east is Wandiwash where
Eyre Coote inflicted a severe defeat upon Count Lally in 1760.
The whole district is of great historic interest. The military
importance of this group of forts was due to their position
with regard to the Mysore border. A considerable force
of British and native troops was divided between them ; and
Arcot became the cavalry station. As the Fort was in ruins,
a cantonment was formed on the other side of the river near
a village called Eanipett ; the station was always known as
Arcot as long as British troops were there ; when they were
withdrawn it gradually assumed the name of Eanipett. Vellore
ceased to be a station for British infantry after the mutiny
of 1806. Wallajabad proved to be unhealthy and was aban-
doned some years later. Arnee was abandoned at the same
time. Arcot remained a station for British troops till

A Chaplain was stationed at Vellore in 1789.^ His duty was
to visit Arcot, Arnee, and Wallajabad. After 1806 the head-
quarters of the Chaplain were fixed at Arcot, and part of his
duty was to i^'isit the other three stations.^ In 1815 it was
recognised that the work of those stations could not be done
by one Chaplain, more especially as the civil station of Chittoor
claimed a portion of his services. The number was therefore
increased to tw^o,-*^ one being stationed at Arcot and the other
at Chittoor. Other changes were made with regard to Vellore,
Arnee, Chittoor, and Wallajabad as time went on ; but Arcot

' See The Church in Madras, i. G18-29, 081.
- despatch, April 20, 1809, Public.
'^ Despatch, Nov, 3, 1815, 130, Mil.


had the continuous services of a Chaplain until it was aban-
doned in 1863. This is the hst up to 1834 :



The Eev. C. Wells .
„ J. E. Atwood
„ W. Thomas

C. Ball .
„ J, Mousley
„ E. Smyth
„ T. Lewis
,, P. Stewart

1798-1802 and 1803-4




1814-29 (died at Bangalore)

1829-33 (died at Vellore)

1833-34 (died at Arcot)

Arcot was one of the places recommended by Dr. Kerr for
a permanent Chaplain in 1807. It was also one of the places
recommended by General Hay MacDowall for a permanent
Church in the same year. The same delay took place here as at
other places with regard to the buildmg. In 1808 a house in
the cantonment was hired and made to serve the purposes of a
Church. But it was an unsatisfactory arrangement. When
the Government of Fort St. George informed the Directors of
what they had done i the reply - was :

' We approve etc. And we embrace this opportunity of
acquainting you that we shall be ready to sanction the erection
at a moderate expense of houses of worship at all the seven
military stations specified in paragraph 9 of our Public Letter
dated 5 June 1805.'

The difficulty of the local Government was chiefly financial.
They had to build at this period not only barracks and hospitals,
but also Court Houses, Treasuries, and other civil buildings.
They had to consider how all this could be done with the money
at their disposal. In 1807 a house was rented as a place of
worship. In 1812 they decided to convert a native hospital
at Arcot into a Church. But the Commander-in-Chief was
insistent. Grave accusations had been made against the
European troops in his command, and he did not want to hear
them repeated.^ So the Military Board was desired to submit

' Letters, Oct. 24, 1808, 168, Public, and Oct. 24, 1808, 394, Mil. ; Despatches,.
July 10, 1811, 112, Public, and Sept. 9, 1812, 182, Mil.

- Letter, Dec. 24, 1807, 233, Mil.; Despatch, Jan. 23, 1811, 141, Mil.
=» Letter, Dec. 31, 1813, 100, Mil.

Plan of St. Mary's, Arcot. Tliis was the standard plan of
a Church sanctioned by the Military Boarrl between 1809
and 1815. Dimensions varied according to requirements.


a plan and estimate for a small Church. During the year 1814
the Church was built. The additions of the sanctuary and a
Vestry room on each side of it were made in 1815. The body
of the Church measured internally 48 x 42 x 22 feet.i The
sanctuary extended another 12 feet ; so that the total inside
length was 60 feet. With commissariat benches without backs
there was sitting accommodation for the officers and about 300
men. The cost was Es. 10,332. It was consecrated by Bishop
Spencer on October 20, 1844, and was named St. Mary's in
honour of the Blessed Virgin.

The Senior Presidency Chaplain in 1816, the Eev. E. Vaug-
han, reported that the Church at Arcot was ' nearly finished ' ^
in a return called for by the Government. It is, however,
confidently stated locally that the Church was ready for use at
the beginning of 1815. If so, it must have been in use before
it was quite finished, which is quite possible. The Rev.
Richard Smyth was the Chaplain who saw it built. He wanted
it badly, and it is quite probable that he made use of it before
the final touches were added. The Register Books were
commenced in 1813 by the Rev. J. Mousley, when the services
were held in the hired house.

In the year 1851 the old Cavalry Mess House was sold by
the Government and bought by the Roman Catholics, who
intended to convert it into a chapel.^ The Government on
hearing of this returned the sale price and expenses to the
purchasers, and ordered the materials of the building to be
sold by auction. The Directors made no remark. As a rule
the Government were liberal to the Roman Catholics and
assisted them both to build and to keep in repair their chapels,
which were in use by British troops. But they claimed to have
a word as to where they were built. It cannot be known now
why they adopted the course they did. The Roman Catholics
did not apparently declare their intention till the purchase was
completed. Perhaps that was the offence. The Mess House
was probably in the very heart of the cantonment, where the
military authorities did not want a chapel of any kind. That

' The 1852 Official Return says 48 x 48 x 22 feet ; a mistake.

'^ Constdtations, Jan. 27, 1816.

•' Letter, June 26, 1851, 2, Eccl. ; Despatch, March 2, 1853, 9, Eccl.


may have been the cause. The action of the Government was
certainly unusual.

From time to time repau's were executed and new furniture
added ; but no alteration has been made to the building from
the time it was built to the present day. It never needed
enlargement. The plan therefore is of interest ; for it shows
exactly what the Military Board of the period considered to be
the best possible design for the price to be paid. They had to
consider durability and permanence as well as accommodation,
and to put aside rigorously all thought of ornamentation. The
Church consists of a nave with a tiled roof supported by pillars,
and Hanked by two aisles with terraced roofs. Arcot is now
almost deserted. It seems a pity that the building cannot be
transferred to one of the many new places where a Church to
accommodate about three hundred people is requu'ed.

Since the miUtary authorities abandoned the station, the
buildmg has been well cared for and used by the civilians who
now form the population of the place. The handsome altar
vessels were provided in the early days by the Hon. Bast India
Company ; they bear the Company's coat of arms, like the
plate at other old military stations. The coloured glass east
wmdow, representing the Crucifixion, was a thankoffering from
Mr. Apothecary Chadwick on his recovery from illness. The
pulpit, lectern, altar rail, and Glastonbury chairs are of teak
wood handsomely carved. The carving was the handiwork of
Mr. A. F. Cox of the Madras Civil Service in 1875. Mr. Cox
in the early part of his career was assistant to Mr. W. S. White-
side, the Collector and Chief Magistrate of North Arcot, who
as a relief to official duties had taken up the hobby of wood-
carving. In this art he became very efficient ; specimens of
his beautiful work can be seen at the Chittoor and Vellore
Churches and in the Cathedral at Madras. Mr. Cox was
mfected with his enthusiasm and followed his example ; and
when he was transferred to Ranipett (Arcot) in 1875, and beheld
the old and dilapidated furniture in the Church, he determined
to renew it as Whiteside had renewed the furniture at Chittoor.
The first four benches were made under Mr. Cox's supervision.
The design was copied from the seats presented by Mr. White-
side to Vellore. Six similar benches were subsequently obtained


by the congregation. The rest are over seventy years old.
They have perpendicular backs and are said to be very uncom-
fortable; but a vertical back is better than no back at all.
The lamps and the American reed organ were the gifts of
Mr. J. Andrews of the Madras Civil Service. Mr. W. S. White-
side was the donor of the brass altar cross and of a solid
well-made altar table.

No burials have taken place inside the Church. There are,
however, two monumental tablets worthy of notice. The one
on the south wall is to the memory of the Eev. Eichard Smyth,
who died at Bangalore ; he was Chaplain of Arcot from 1814 to
1829. The one on the north wall commemorates Captain
John Stedman Cotton of the 7th Madras Light Cavalry, who
died of cholera at Chittoor in 1843. He was the author of
' Tlie Tale of a Tiger,' from which ' The Tale of a Tub ' is
supposed to have been derived. The tablet is by Weekes the
sculptor, and includes a medallion portrait of the deceased in

The cemetery has been in use since the cantonment was
made, but the earliest monument in it is dated 1791. The
earliest inscribed tomb at Arnee is dated 1784. The inscrip-
tions on the old tombs at Wandiwash Fort have perished. They
belonged to the period of the gallant defence of the Fort by
Flint and Brereton in 1759 and 1760. At Arnee is the tomb
and memorial of Colonel Henry Harvey Aston, who commanded
the 12th Eegiment, and was killed in a duel which he provoked.^
All the cemeteries contain the mortal remains of gallant and
brave men, who lived in troublous times and bore their part
well. At Arcot are buried two Chaplains, Holled Coxe of the
Bengal establishment, and Pointz Stewart of the Madras
establishment. Coxe was on leave from Bengal for his health,
and was on his way to Bangalore with his wife. He died at
Arcot in 1820, aged twenty-five. The Latin inscription on
his grave says : ' Juvenis etsi, Vitae tamen officiis per-
functus erat, Gravi erga Deum pietate imbutus, Vix ad
has oras appulsus, Animam eheu praematuram expiravit.
Hoc marmor apposuere, Sui deflentes.' His wife proceeded

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 12 of 39)