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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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correspondence the question was settled.

On the completion of his primary visitation of the Presidency
and of the Chaplaincies within easy reach of it, the Archdeacon
made a report to the Government of Fort St. George,i and
embodied m it certain requests and suggestions. He began by
deploring the fact that his predecessors had left no records
of any kind to guide him in his official intercourse with the
Government on the one hand, nor the Chaplains on the other,
and he begged that copies of all official correspondence between
his predecessors and the Government might be sent to him for
information. Then he complained of the incompetency of the
registrar to assist him in any case of legal difficulty. But he
paid a tribute of praise to Dr. William Roy, ' who executed the
duties of the archdeaconry ' during the vacancy, for the
care, method, and exactness which he had mtroduced into
the office. After this his report continues under different
headings, thus :

St. George's. — The efficiency of the whole establishment was
highly creditable to all concerned.

St. Mary's. — Private complaints of irregularity and omissions
had been made to him, but nothing to warrant his interference ;
and when he visited the Church nothing could be more decorous
than the performance of divine service. But these complaints
prompted him to suggest the establishment of a system of
churchwardens, who could reply to inquiries by the Bishop or
the Archdeacon, and be the mouthpieces of the congregation
in preferring complaints when necessary. He suggested that
two of the principal inhabitants of the station (one civil, if it
be a civil station, and the other military) might be appointed
trustees of the Church or Chaplaincy with great advantage to
the Bishop, the Archdeacon, the Chaplain, and the people.

Black Town. — He reported that Mr. Hallewell was most
exemplary in the discharge of his duties, but that he was
reluctantly compelled to ask for sick leave on medical certificate.
The Archdeacon recommended that the leave be granted, and

» Bishop's Office Records, July 1828.


that the Eev. P. Spring, being the best fitted of all the Chaplains
for the post, be transferred from Quilon to succeed him. He
also asked for a font.

Vepery. — This populous and important district was most
happy in the provision made for its spiritual wants. The
two Presidency Chaplains regularly divided the work of minis-
tering to a congregation of about 450 people in the mission
Church. But it was necessary to contemplate the necessity
of erecting a separate parish Church for the European and
Eurasian congregation, and of appointing another Chaplain at
the Presidency in the near future. The Archdeacon urged the
expediency of appointing Chaplains to minister in these two
districts, and the Government accepted the plea and recognised
the claim.

St. Thomas' Mount. — He thanked the Government for
building the beautiful and commodious Church at this station,
which he himself had ' opened ' and licensed on July 13, 1828 ; i
and he asked for the usual establishment and allowances for a
Church of its size.

Poonamallee. — He represented the need of a font, and of
some new furniture, includmg new rails round the altar; and
especially the provision of a Depot School for the children of
the pensioners, invalids, and soldiers in the station, of whom
there were at that time over sixty. The school might be of the
same kind as the garrison school at Vizagapatam and subject
to the same regulations.

Finally, he brought to the notice of Government by order of
the Bishop the curious system which had accidentally grown
up in the Presidency, by which all returns of regular ecclesiasti-
cal duties (baptisms, marriages, and funerals) performed by the
Chaplains had been sent to the Registrar of the Archdeacon,
whilst all returns of similar offices performed by laymen or
missionaries had been sent to the Senior Presidency Chaplain
under the old order of Government dated March 27, 1805. He
represented that when the Archdeaconry was founded, the
returns of the Hon. Company's Chaplains were transferred to
the Archdeacon's office, but that all other returns were retained
by the Senior Chaplain. And he asked that for the sake of

' The licence was registered on July 15.


uniformity all returns should be made to the Archdeacon's

At about the same time as the arrival of Archdeacon
Robmson at Madras the Registrar issued to the Chaplains, by-
order of Bishop James, a circular note, calling upon them to
observe strictly in the solemnisation of marriage the rules
prescribed by the ecclesiastical laws of England. The Registrar
issued the three rules which had been approved by the Govern-
ment in 1818 and issued in that year by Archdeacon Mousley.
The first of these was : ' In all cases in which a licence is not
obtamed from the Right Hon. the Governor, the publication of
banns must be considered indispensably necessary,' &c.

Archdeacon Robinson represented to the Bishop that it
was no longer necessary for the Governor to issue licences ;
the Bishop replied that he would address the Archdeacon on
the subject soon, and that until then the subject was not to be
mentioned. Bishop James did not live to follow it up. But
it was taken up by his successor. Bishop Turner, and the rule
was altered so that marriage licences according to English
ecclesiastical law were to be issued by the Bishop and his
surrogates in the future. His Excellency the Governor retained
the power of allowing or forbidding the marriage of a Company's
servant who was under age. The Hon. Company placed him
in loco parentis with regard to their young civil and military
officers. If he gave his consent the episcopal licence might
issue ; if he withheld it, it might not.

This welcome change was accompanied by one that was not
so welcome. Bishop Turner sanctioned a scale of fees payable
to the registrars for preparing legal documents connected with
licences, institutions, consecrations, &c., which were so high
as to be severely felt by all who had to pay them. These were
some of the charges :

Ordination fee .




Every licence




Letters Testimonial




Petition for consecration

of building

not the

property of the Government



Consecration of the same





Petition for consecration ofburial-ground not

the property of the Government . . Rs.32

Consecration of the same . . . . 160

Tliese consecration fees were ahnost prohibitive ; very few
mission Churches were consecrated in the early days of Church
building ; the Societies refused to pay the fees, and there was
no one else to pay them. The buildings were merely licensed,
instead of being solemnly set apart from all profane and
common use, and m course of time the whole reason of the
omission was forgotten.

At the end of 1828 there arrived from England three large
bells and twenty smaller ones. The Chief Secretary requested
the Archdeacon to inform the Mihtary Board how they were
to be appropriated. The Archdeacon gave directions for the
disposal of two large bells, thus : St. George's, Madras, one, and
Vepery one ; and of eleven small ones to these eleven Churches :
St. Thomas' Mount ; Poonamallee ; Arcot ; St. Mark's, Banga-
lore ; Bellary ; Secunderabad ; Nagpore ; Masulipatam Fort ;
Masulipatam Pettah ; Trichinopoly Fort ; Trichinopoly St.
John's. The rest to remain in store.

The Government of Fort St. George took time to consider
the report of the Archdeacon on the state of the Presidency
Chaplaincies. On September 4, 1829, the Chief Secretary
communicated to him their resolution to carry out all his
recommendations, with the exception of establishing a garrison
school at Poonamallee. This did not seem to them to be
necessary, for the children were being taught in a private
school. The Governor in Council said nothing about the
anomalous state of affairs with regard to the returns made to
Government through the Senior Presidency Chaplain. They
were wise in their silence. The Senior Chaplain clung to the
last of his official privileges, and it was wiser to wait for the
next vacancy in the office than to hurt his pride. The oppor-
tunity came at the end of 1831 when William Eoy retired.
The Government issued the order and the transfer was made.
This is the official note of it in the Archdeacon's Act Book :

' Received this day a rattan basket, unsecured, unsealed and
without cover containing sundry original and copies of returns


and register books received by and lierotofore in possession of
the Eev. W. Roy as Senior Presidency Chaplain in charge of
the Lay Registers which Government had ordered to be trans-
ferred to mj' office. The above documents came without
letter ; and the cooly who brought them said he had received
them from the clerk of the Rev. W. Roy to deliver to me as the
Registrar of the Archdeaconry of Madras ; the Eev. W. Roy
having previously embarked for Europe.

' \^^iich I attest. Frederick Orme, Begistrar.'

Although more than a year elapsed before they gave their
reply, they were fully alive to the advantage of the visitation,
and of having a report on ecclesiastical matters drawn up by
their chief ecclesiastical officer. Before they received the
report they encouraged the Archdeacon to make a visitation of
the northern stations ; to travel through Arcot, Vellore,
Bangalore, Bellary, Hyderabad, Vizagapatam, Masulipatam,
and Nellore ; and to report as before on the condition and
ecclesiastical needs of those stations. Letters were sent to the
civil officials administering those districts requesting that the
Archdeacon's journey might be facilitated by all proper means,
' but that every appearance of state and ostentation might be
sedulously avoided.' The Government also advanced a sum of
Rs.2000 on account of necessary expenses.

The records show ^ that this northern visitation was
carried out ; no report of it was copied into the Archdeacon's
Act Book, and no resolution of Government on the report has
been found. Not long after the arrangements were made, the
Right Hon. the Governor in Council expressed an apprehen-
sion that the unsettled state of the Nizam's country would render
it necessary that the Archdeacon should be provided with a
military escort for his personal security.

In December 1828 preparations were made for a visitation
tour southward. The Archdeacon sent a proposed route to
the Chief Secretar3^ It included Pondicherry, Cuddalore,
Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Palamcottah, Quilon, Cochin, Cannanore,
Mangalore, Outacanmnd, Bangalore, Vellore, Arcot. The
Government agreed, advanced Rs.3000 for expenses, and in-
structed all officers, civil and mihtary, through whose districts

' L\ 102.


the Archdeacon passed to pay him proper respect and to
attend to his requisitions. The Quartermaster-general pro-
vided the following equipment by order :

2 Field Officer's tents 14 cart bullocks

2 Subaltern's tents 29 other bullocks

5 Private's tents 6 carts

2 other tents 1 Dhooly

2 elephants 18 lascars and bearers,

4 camels &c.,

and the Archdeacon started on his journey. At the end of the
first stage he was attacked by fever and compelled to return.

A year elapsed before the effort was renewed. He was
advised to shorten the programme, so as to be back in Madras
before the hot weather began in earnest, and he wdsely listened
to the warning. He was absent from Madras during the first
three months of 1830, and on June 1 in that year he sent a
lengthy report to the Governor in Council, The report may
be summarised thus :

Tripassore, an out-station of Poonamallee, where a number of
European pensioners lived under a commandant. He thanked
the Government for having provided a school for the children,
of whom there were about a hundred ; and a building for
divine service, which he proposed to license on his return. He
spoke highly of the judicious work of the Chaplain, the Eev.
F. Spring, and bore witness to the regular and orderly behaviour
of all in the station.

Cuddalore. — Here also were a number of European pen-
sioners, but without the restraining influence of military dis-
cipline. The mission had decreased in numbers, and the
missionary had been sent by the Committee of the S.P.C.K. to a
more important centre. The Chaplain, the Eev. J. Hallewell,
rented the mission bungalow, and superintended the work of
the S.P.C.K. Catechist in addition to his other duties. He
managed a school for the children of the pensioned soldiers
at their lines, and a second English school next to the mission
Church for other Eurasian children ; and he had besides two
Tamil schools. The Archdeacon reported the exemplary
diligence and conduct of the Chaplain. He complained of the


want of ventilation in the mission Church, and asked the
Government to have this matter attended to by enlarging the
east window, and making a new door at the west end. He
also reported that the monthly visits of the Chaplain to Pondi-
cherry, lately sanctioned at his recommendation, were most
acceptable to the British residents there, who numbered about
lifty adult persons, and that His Excellency the French
Governor had been kind enough to give every facility for the
' decent celebration of the offices of our religion.'

Tanjore. — The Rev. Messrs. Kohlhoff and Haubroe, on the
recommendation of the late Bishop Heber, were ministering
to the English community as acting Chaplains ; the Archdeacon
reported the great advantage and the general satisfaction of
all the residents at this arrangement. He recommended that
the clerk's salary of five pagodas should be paid by the Govern-
ment instead of by the mission. He mentioned that a new
Church had been built by the S.P.C.K., without cost to the
Government,^ and that in it was provided accommodation for
the European residents. He asked the Government to add
what was then wanting m the Church, namely a gallery at the
west end for the organ, and a bell from the Quartermaster-
general's store.

Trichino'poly. — The Archdeacon was pleased with the work
of the Chaplain, the Eev. Joseph Wright, and assured the
Government of his zeal and dihgence in the discharge of his
sacred office. He visited and examined the school of H.M.'s
89th Regiment. But what pleased him most was the Vestry
School, at that time housed at Puttoor in a building erected
in a corner of the compound where the Chaplain lived. He
reported that the school was equally honourable to the liberality
of the station and the care of the Chaplain, who had transferred
it from close quarters in the fort to the healthier atmosphere
of the cantonment. In this school eighteen boys, descendants
of European soldiers, were boarded and educated, and a free
education was given to other Eurasians not eligible for admis-
sion to the charity, without any assistance from the Govern-
ment ; and this by means of a fund which had been originally
raised by monthly collections and judiciously invested by the

' Opened for service Dec. 1829.


Vestry Trustees. The Archdeacon reported that the bell
sanctioned for St. John's Church at the end of 1828 had not yet
arrived. He asked the Government to build an open cupola
over the western porch for its reception. He brought to the
notice of the Government the condition of the Fort cemetery at
Chintamony, asking that it might be enlarged and enclosed by
a wall to preserve it from desecration. Finally, he thanked the
Government in the name of the S.P.C.K. and in his own name
for acceding to his request to rebuild the mission Church in the
Fort, ' so hallowed to every Christian mind as the last scene
of the earthly labours of the lamented Bishop Heber.' He
reported that the work was well done ; and on the ground that
the Church was used by the Europeans and Eurasians in the
Fort, he asked the Government to sanction the supply of such
simple articles of furniture as were necessary.

Quilon. — The Archdeacon reported that the new Church was
nearly completed. Whilst regretting that it was so small that
it would only accommodate a hundred people, he said that its
design reflected great credit on the architect. Lieutenant
Green, who had achieved all that was possible with the limited
means at his disposal. He suggested that, as the old cemetery
was crowded, the compound of the new Church should be
extended one hundred yards eastward and enclosed with a
wall and used as a burial place. He reported also that there
were over fifty European children at Quilon needing a school
education, and asking that the Government would sanction
the establishment of a station school and would pay the

Cochin. — The Archdeacon mentioned that the appointment
of a Chaplain to Cochin on the recommendation of Bishop
Middleton had had the best results as well as the gratitude of
the numerous residents. Since the death of the first Chaplain,
the Rev. W. R. M. Williams, in 1818, the congregation had
been left to the voluntary ministrations of missionaries. At
the time of his visit the work was being acceptably carried on
by the Rev. Samuel Ridsdale, a C.M.S. missionary in Holy
Orders. Since it was not possible to appomt another Chaplain
to the charge, the Archdeacon asked that Mr. Ridsdale might
be recognised by the Government as the actmg Chaplain, and


might receive the usual acting allowance. He also reported
that the Church was kept in excellent repair by the residents,
who were of Dutch extraction ; that the Government paid a
clerk and sexton ; that the congregation numbered about
200 ; and that they had expressed their desire and resolution to
conform m every respect with the doctrine, discipline, and
ritual of the English Church. The Archdeacon found, however,
that the clerk was deranged and mcapable, and that the sexton
was ineJBficient and useless ; and he asked that the acting Chap-
lain might be authorised to employ two other men.

Tlie Archdeacon was mformed by the congregation that
there were in Cochin two charitable funds ; one amounting to
Rs.2000 which was left ' for the Church ' by Mrs. Wolff ; and
the other amounting to about Es.4500 which was raised by
subscription in the town by the Eev. W. E. M. Williams for the
establishment of a free school. The former fund was in private
hands, and the latter was in the hands of the Collector ; neither
of them was being put to the purpose for which it was intended.
The Archdeacon asked that these sums might be vested in
himself, and the income administered by the acting Chaplain
and Lay Trustees, mentioning that it was for purposes of this
kind that the Archdeacon was made by Act of Parliament a
Body Corporate.

The report concluded with an expression of thanks to the
Governor in Council for the assistance afforded during this,
as well as durmg his northern tour ; ^ and for the kindness
shown by all the officers of Government in the different districts
through which he passed.

As before the Government took time to consider his report,
and rephed to it a year afterwards.^ They agreed to alter
Cuddalore Church as suggested. They refused to pay the
clerk's salary or to erect a gallery at St. Peter's, Tanjore, on
the ground that the Government could not make contributions
to mission funds nor appear to be a party in mission concerns.
They agreed to add a belfry to St. John's Church, Trichinopoly ;
to enlarge and enclose the Chintamony burial-ground in the
Fort ; and to supply whatever furniture was necessary for public

' This is the only evidence that the northern tour was carried out.
- Letter to the Archdeacon, June 7, 1831.


worship in the mission Church in the Fort (Christ Church)
* lately rebuilt by Government.' They directed that the
paragraphs relating to Cochin should be sent to the Resident
and the Chief Magistrate of Malabar for their report. When
their report was subsequently received, all the Archdeacon's
suggestions were accepted and carried out.

The question of paying the cost of Archidiaconal visitations
came to the front again in the year 1828. There was still a
large sum unexpended which had been allotted for Bishop
Heber's tour. The Government of Fort St. George, having no
doubt of the administrative value of such visitations, and
beheving that the Court of Directors would be convinced by
their arguments, placed portions of this sum at Archdeacon
Robinson's service, sanctioned his visitation of all the Chap-
laincies, and wrote to the Court of Directors asking that their
previous orders might not be enforced. i

The Directors were, however, inexorable. They were at
that time meditating reductions in their establishments, and
it is probable that the want of money influenced their judg-
ment. They wrote :

' With respect to the advance of Es.2000 to the Archdeacon
from the balance of the sum sanctioned by us for the Bishop's
triennial visitation, which Bishop Heber left unfinished, and
which the Archdeacon has been authorised to complete in his
tour, we are advised that this grant is equally illegal with
those which we have under Act of 53 George III, cap. 155,
section 50, before repeatedly refused ; and we cannot but
express our disapprobation of these endeavours to violate by a
forced construction our repeated orders founded on the law of
the land. The Act of 4 George IV, cap. 71, section 5, author-
ised a visitation allowance to the Bishop alone, and does not
authorise its being given directly or indirectly to the Arch-
deacon. We of course continue to withhold our sanction from
this grant.' -

It was not possible for the local Government to ignore
the declared will of the Directors after the receipt of this
despatch, nor to hope for their conversion. The Governor in

1 Letter, Dec. 30, 1828. 38-40, Eccl.
- Despatch, April C, 1830, 6, Eccl.

M 2


Council had wiitten more than once to explain the desirability
and the advantage of tours of visitation, and to request that
the orders of the Court m the year 1818 should not be enforced.
Their representations were of no avail ; consequently the
Archdeacon made no more tours after 1830, and submitted
no more reports, but remained in Madras to carry on his official
duties in his private house, until his retirement m January 1836.

In the year 1828 he made an attempt to have the table
of ecclesiastical fees revised. It seemed to him unjust and
improper to charge a missionary Es.64 for his licence. He
communicated with Bishop James, and after that Bishop's
death with Archdeacon Corric the Commissary. Whilst it was
right that the registrar who prepared the documents should
receive a fee for his trouble, he contended that it was in the
power of the Bishop to fix the fee, and he suggested that fees
should be fixed according to emoluments, that is, that the
missionaries should pay much less than the Chaplains.

Neither Bishop James nor Archdeacon Corrie would face
the question. The former gave his verbal sanction to his
registrars to charge fees. The latter said that when parties
were benefited a fee seemed fair, and that only in Government
concerns, such as the consecration of Churches and burial-
grounds for Europeans, must the monthly pay of the registrar
be considered sufficient remuneration for making out the
necessary papers. Archdeacon Robinson did what he could ;
it was reserved for a later generation to do justice to the

It had been the practice hitherto, when any servant of
Government was ill, for him to apply for sick leave and to wait
at his station till he received word that it was granted. The
Rev. Henry Allen, Chaplain of Cuddalore, was sick unto death
in January 1829. He applied for leave, waited, and died on
the 23rd of the month. Archdeacon Robinson asked that in
urgent cases where immediate action was necessary he should
be empowered to grant leave for a short period and report
to Government afterwards. Tlie principle of prompt action
was conceded.

In the year 1805 the Supreme Court of Madras decided that
Vestries in India had no legal powers of any kind. At that


time there were three in existence doing useful work, holding
and administering parish funds, maintaining European and
Eurasian schools, and reheving the local Eurasian poor. These
were at Fort St. George, Trichinopoly, and Tanjore. The

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 15 of 39)