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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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decision of the Supreme Court crushed the usefulness of the
first and took the spirit out of the second ; whilst the third died
a natural death. From 1805 to 1829 the Chaplains had to
manage all their local concerns without the help of a Vestry.
Then Archdeacon Kobinson began to see that it would be much
better for the Chaplain and the congregation if a standing
committee of management existed in every Chaplaincy. He
had hinted this in his report to the Government after his first
visitation of the Presidency. At St. Mary's, Fort St. George,
he had heard certain rumours of irregularities in the conduct of
divine service ; he saw none himself, and he urged that if any
reports of shortcomings were to be made at all, they ought to
be made by persons in the position of churchwardens with
official and recognised responsibility.

Encouraged by the Government he devised a scheme of
co-operation between the Chaplain and the congregation, and
in September 1829 he wrote this circular letter to the
Chaplains :

' The Rt. Hon. the Governor in Council having been pleased
to sanction the appointment of two Lay Trustees in each
chaplaincy, members of the Church of England, to act generally
as representatives of the people in all matters relating to the
Church, and together with yourself to form a standing committee
of management, you will oblige me by mentioning the names
of two gentlemen in your station of the highest civil and military
situations who have no objection to undertake that office.'

In September 1830 Archdeacon Robinson was able to send
a letter to the Governor in Council nominating twenty civil
and military officers to ten of the principal stations outside
Madras, together with rules for their guidance. Among the
names were some that were well known subsequently in the
history of the Presidency, such as Captain Coffin (Nagpore),
Brooke Cunliffe (Cuddalore), Lieutenant Leggatt (Vepery).
It is perhaps worthy of remark that Major- General the Right


Hon. the Earl of Carnworth was ono of the nommated Lay
Trustees of St. John's, Trichinopoly.

There is no record to show how this excellent scheme was
received by the Chaplains, but there is some evidence that it
was not received with enthusiasm. In December 1832 the
Chief Secretary wrote to the acting Archdeacon, Henry Harper,
to make inquiries ; and he sent a circular letter to the Chaplains
in which he asked them to nominate fresh officers high up in
their branch of the service, members of the Church of England,
as trustees under the rules of 1830.

A month later he replied to the Chief Secretary that in the
course of his inquiries it had come to his knowledge that the
appomtment of Lay Trustees had never been fully carried out.
Persons had been nominated, but they had not been furnished
with instructions nor called upon to act. Some had been
transferred to other stations without intimation of their
departure to the Archdeacon, and there had been no nomination
of successors in the trust. He therefore asked the Government
to issue a general order appointing Lay Trustees and furnishing
instructions for their guidance.

Accordingly it was resolved in Council on March 5, 1833, to
appoint the two chief officials in each of the twelve principal
out-stations as Lay Trustees, provided that they were members
of the Church of England, and to notify their appointment in
the Fort St. George Gazette, together with the rules drawn up
by Archdeacon Robinson for their guidance, namely :

1. To act generally as representatives of the people in
all matters relating to the Church.

2. To aid and assist the Chaplain in the performance of
his duties.

3. To present to the Bishop or his Archdeacon at their
respective visitations, or hnmediately by letter, any irregu-
larity or scandal connected with Church affairs which may
have occurred within the district.

4. In conjunction with the Chaplain to form a standing
committee of management for all Church matters ; to take
charge of the School and charity funds connected with the
Chaplaincy ; to see that the churchyard and burial-ground
are kept in becoming order ; to take care of the goods,


repairs, and ornaments of the Church or other building
appropriated to the performance of divine service ; and to
represent to Government through the Archdeacon any
deficiency in these particulars which they may think it
necessary or desirable to supply.

On the following day, March 6, 1833, the acting Archdeacon
communicated the rules to the Chaplains, and added his
opinion that as the Committee of Management was similar to
a Vestry meeting in England, the Chaplain must always preside.
He also directed that the record of business transacted should
be kept in a separate book from that kept for the Chaplain's
official correspondence.

The principle and practice of parochial administration by
the Chaplain and two Lay Trustees is so sound that it exists
almost as it was originated by Archdeacon Eobinson in the
present day, and the credit of its origin is due to him.

Before the day of Archdeacons it had been the custom for
the clergy returning home to get their letters testimonial signed
by two of their brethren, one of whom was the Senior Chaplain.
This primitive custom went on until 1830, when Archdeacon
Robinson pointed out to the clergy its u'regularity, and told
them that in future letters testimonial would be granted by the
Archdeacon under the seal of the Bishop.

It had not been the custom at any time during the
Company's rule to charge any fee for the erection of
monuments in burial-grounds, except at stations where
there were Vestries. The Company gave the grounds,
and the Company's servants used them free of cost. The
results of this freedom were that sometimes more ground
than was actually requii-ed was taken for a burial, and
that large masonry monuments were erected on the allotted
site. At the present day these immense cenotaphs are
regarded with an amused wonder. The Archdeacon could
see for himself during his useful tours of inspection that, if
there were no rule as to the size of the monuments, the space
allotted for burials in up-country stations would very soon be
filled up. When Bishop Turner visited Bangalore in 1830 and
consecrated the burial-ground on the Agram Plain, he limited
the ground area of monuments to seven feet by three and a half.


There was, however, some doubt at the time if he had sufficient
authority to lav down a rule of that kind. The Archdeacon
therefore seems to have collected some evidence of inconvenience
fi-om other stations and addressed the Government, suggesting
the propriety of liniitmg the size of monuments ' hereafter to
be erected in the burial-ground of any out-station to the follow-
ing dimensions which were laid down by the late Bishop for
that at Bangalore, namely seven feet by three and a half.'
Five days after the receipt of his letter the Governor in Council
adopted his suggestion by a resolution. i

Up to the year 1830 departmental regulations had been
laid down as occasion required. As the civil, military and
ecclesiastical departments grew in numbers, it became necessary
to have a general code of regulations, to which every officer
could refer. In 1831 the Government of Fort William trans-
mitted to the Government of Fort St. George a series of leave
rules for Chaplains, and recommended that similar rules should
be adopted in the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay. This
was done by resolution, and the new rules of leave and allow-
ances during leave were published in the Fort St. George

In March 1832 the Court of Directors wrote to the Governor
in Council at Fort St. George approving the policy of making
the services of the Chaplains as extensively useful as possible,
and regulating the allowances to be paid them for travelling
expenses when visiting subordinate stations within reach of
their headquarters."^

The codification of leave and allowance rules, and the
frequent issue of special rules to meet special cases, had the
effect of causing the Archdeacon to collect together all the
departmental rules regarding Chaplains he could find. They
were becoming too numerous to be easily remembered or to be
easily found and referred to. He therefore codified them, and
submitted them to the Government. He asked that thej^ might
be published in General Orders and in the Gazette, and that he
might have one hundred copies printed separately for distribu-

' Minute's of Consultation, May 8, 1832.

* E.M.C. (extract from Minutes of Consultation), May 31, 1831.

•^ G.O. (Government Order), July 31, 1832.


tion among the Chaplains and others. The Government
agreed,^ and the Archdeacon sent out copies to the Chaplains
with this letter dated November 7, 1832 :

' Eeverend and Dear Sir,— Great inconvenience having
been felt by the clergy from the want of a digest of the General
Orders of Government in the Ecclesiastical Department,
many of which are of ancient date but httle known, I have been
engaged in collecting and arranging them ; and they are now
published with the sanction of Government, with such sHght
revisions as the change of times and circumstances have
rendered expedient.

' To these I have added in their proper places such episcopal
regulations as have been issued by the Bishops of Calcutta
in this archdeaconry and are still in force.

' In forwarding you a copy for your information and guidance
I have only to express my hope that it will be found conducive
to your comfort and convenience in the discharge of your
duties, and commending you to the blessing of Almighty God, I
remain,' &c.

The copy contained forty-one rules. They laid down the
duties of a Chaplain on arrival in the country, on arrival at
his station, during the time he was in the station and on
quitting the station ; what he was to do in the case of hindrance
to or non-attendance upon his ministrations ; how and when
he was to baptise, marry or bury, and to register such events ;
that he was to pay attention to the fasts and festivals of the
Church, and to discourage festivities during Holy Week ; that
he was to visit the hospitals frequently, using prayer and
sacraments when required ; that he was to see that the rule
regarding monuments in burial-grounds was carried out ; that
the Archdeacon was the channel of communication between
himself and the Government, so that the Archdeacon might have
the opportunity of making remarks. Besides this the rules
incorporated the new leave and allowance regulations, as well
as those relating to ecclesiastical and criminal offences, and
those relating to letters testimonial.

Bishop Wilson drew up a similar code of rules, which he
called ' Suggestions to the Clergy,' in 1844 ; they were intended

1 E.M.C., Nov. 2, 1832.


for the clergy of his diocese, and some of the rules applied only
to them. Bishop Cotton revised these Suggestions in 1862
and reissued them for the benefit of the Chaplains on the
Bengal estabhshment. Between times, that is in 1857, Mr.
J. J. Carshore published at Calcutta ' The Bengal Chaplains'
Yade Mecum.'

The Eev. William Ward Nicholls, a Bengal Chaplain,
published a ' Handbook for Chaplains ' in 1867, in which all
episcopal suggestions and rules sanctioned by Government
were included which had not been superseded or altered. At
the present time all these rules and regulations are incorporated
in the Civil Service Regulations and the Indian Army Regula-
tions, and are kept up to date by means of periodical corrections.
But to Archdeacon Robinson belongs the credit of having
originated the idea and practice of a departmental code.

At the end of the year 1832 Archdeacon Robinson went to
the Cape of Good Hope on leave for six months, and the Rev.
Henry Harper was appointed by the Government to act as
Archdeacon during his absence. Henry Harper was two
years senior in the service to Robinson and was a man of very
considerable tact and abiHty. When Robinson resigned his
appointment in 1836, Harper was at once appointed to succeed
him. He remained at the head of the department for ten years,
and guided its affairs with great skill and judgment.

One of the first things he had to do was to make the system
of Lay Trustees and Church committees a reality. This has
been akeady referred to. He came to his office with a practical
knowledge of the work of a Chaplain at more than one large
military station ; he knew how much official correspondence
such Chaplains had ; and how important it was for purposes
of record that their correspondence and reports should be
written on official paper of the regulation size and kind. It
was a period of economy and reductions ; he knew it would be
of no use to ask the Government to issue stationery to the
Chaplains free of cost ; but he did what was under the circum-
stances the next best thing : he obtained for the Chaplains
of the nine largest stations the privilege of getting official
stationery from the public stores on payment.^

' Within a tshort time the stationery was granted free.


The Company under the terms of the new Charter of 1833
were about to give up all their trade, and become administrators
only of the country which had — more or less by accident than
design— fallen under their rule. To give up their trade meant
the loss of income. Consequently there were many reductions
in the subordinate establishments of all departments, and the
ecclesiastical department of the southern Presidency was
reduced by Rs.445 per mensem. This meant a redistribution
of the duties of the Church establishments in every Chaplaincy.
Each Church was allowed a clerk, a sexton, and three lascars.
Harper had to define their duties, and did so thus :

Clerk ; not only to be aiding and assisting the officiating
minister in all public and occasional duties, but also to keep the
records, copy letters received and despatched, prepare copies
and extracts from register books, and superintend the sexton
and lascars.

Sexton or Church Keeper ; to be considered in charge under
the Chaplain and Lay Trustees of the building and furni-
ture, the books, robes, lamps, &c., and to see that all is provided
for the due performance of clerical duties in Church, hospital,
and burial-ground.

Lascars ; to be under the orders of the Chaplain, and the
superintendence of the clerk and sexton ; to dig graves ;
to keep the churchyard and burial-ground clean and in
good order ; to toll the bell, prepare the lamps, &c.^

One more matter of importance came before the acting
Archdeacon before the return of Archdeacon Robinson. One
of the Chaplains, Lewis, died ; another, Darrah, had been
transferred to Penang ; as many as the rules allowed were on
leave ; and there were hardly enough men to carry on the work
of the department. A number of out-stations — including
Arcot, Arnee, Vellore, Chittoor, Tripassoor, Poonamallee, and
the smaller stations of Pulicat, Nellore, Sadras, Chingleput, and
Wallajahbad — had to remain for a time unvisited. He thought
that he might be able to obtain the help of some of the mission-
aries of the English Church, and he asked the Government, in

^ The revised establishments, the duties of the different Church servants,
and the allowances of oil, stationery, and sacramentals were approved and
sanctioned by Government, Feb. 12, 1833.


case he was successful, to pay them the same travelling and
visiting allowances as were allowed by rule to the Chaplains
in the Service. The request was granted.

Archdeacon Robinson returned from leave at the end of
April 1833. Soon afterwards he gave notice of his second
visitation, and on August 13 this was held at St. George's
Church. The establishment of the Bishopric of Madras two
5'ears later rendered visitations by the Archdeacons unnecessary.
Consequently the two visitations held by Archdeacon Robinson
were the only two made by Archdeacons in the southern
Presidency. The Chaplains and missionaries who were in or
near Madras were present ; these were their names :

Henry Harper, Senior Presidency Chaplain (fourth

Frederick Spring, Junior Presidency Chaplain.
W. T. Blenkinsop, St. Thomas' Mount.
E. A. Denton, Fort St. George.
H. W. Stuart, Vepery.
Vincent Shortland, a new arrival licensed to Trichi-

J. P. Eottler, S.P.C.K. and S.P.G.
C. Blackman, C.M.S.
G. Pettitt, C.M.S.
E. J. Jones, S.P.G.
E. Dent, C.M.S.

It is a matter of regret that the Archdeacon's Charges are
not extant. He combined high intellectual ability with
practical common sense. His review of ecclesiastical matters,
local and general, must have been both useful and appreciated.

During his absence the number of Church servants had been
reduced, and the military guards had been withdrawn from
Church duty in all the up-country garrisons. The immediate
result was a number of Church robberies. The Archdeacon
wrote to the Government in January 1834 reporting a robbery
at St. Thomas' Mount and the insufficiency of the protection
of the Church property at Trichinopoly. He said :

' I have received several similar statements from other chap-
laincies of the great risk to which the Church property is exposed


from the removal of the mihtary guards formerly allowed for
the protection of the buildings in military cantonments, and
I think it my duty to bring the subject generally to the notice
of His Excellency in Council.'

He suggested a guard of peons, if possible Christians, but
gave his opinion that a military guard was the only effectual
security. He also suggested the erection of sheds in the corners
of the churchyards for the shelter of the guards.

The Government was not in favour of the employment of
mihtary guards for the purpose. That subject had been
threshed out by the Military Board. But they allowed ^ the
employment of two extra peons at each of the seventeen larger
stations where there was a Church, namely, the four Churches
in Madras, and those at St. Thomas' Mount, Arcot, Bangalore,
Ootacamund, Nagpore, Cannanore, Bellary, Secunderabad,
Trichinopoly, Poonamallee, Vizagapatam, and Cuddalore.
And in a subsequent order ^ grants were sanctioned for the
purchase of brass plates and cloth belts for the peons.

In the Archdeacon's Act Book is entered this letter from
the Secretary of the Court of Directors. It is dated East India
House, June 19, 1835, and is addressed to the Chief Secretary at
Fort St. George.

' Sir, — I am commanded to acquaint you for the information
of the Rt. Hon. the Governor in Council that His Majesty has
been graciously pleased, in accordance with the provision of
the Act of 3 and 4 William IV, cap. 85, sees. 89-100, to
erect the Archdeaconry of Madras into a Bishop's see, and
to appoint the Rev. Daniel Corrie, LL.D., Archdeacon of
Calcutta, to that Diocese. The Rt. Rev. gentleman has been
duly consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and will
proceed to your Presidency by the ship Exmouth.

* His Lordship will take rank immediately after the Chief
Justice at your Presidency.

' The emoluments of the Bishopric of Madras have been
settled by the provisions of the Act before mentioned.

' In making this communication I am at the same time to
state that the Letters Patent erecting the Archdeaconry of

1 E.M.C., Feb. 14, 1834. - G.O., April 25, 1834, No. 42.


Madras into a Bishop's See, also Letters Patent making a new
division of the Episcopal duties of the Bishopric of Calcutta,
Nvill be prepared and transmitted without delay.
' I have the honour to be, &c.,


' Secretary.'

On October 24, 1835, Bishop Corrie arrived at Madras.
On October 28, 1835, he was enthroned by the Venerable Arch-
deacon Robinson. And on January 7, 1836, the Archdeacon
resigned his appointments in the Company's Service, and
shortly afterwards returned to England.

He was an able man, a great scholar,i full of tact, good
temper and admmistrative ability, and was in the full vigour
of manhood when he went home. It was intended by the
Cabmet which promoted the Madras Bishopric Bill in 1833
that Archdeacon Robmson should become the first Bishop
of Madras.2 Archdeacon Corrie of Calcutta was his senior
in the Service, and had served the Company well in his
pastoral capacity. Corrie was entirely trusted by the C.M.S.,
whose political influence was at that time very strong. It
may be that the Court of Directors of the Company and the
C.M.S. together brought their influence to bear upon the
Cabinet. It may be that Archdeacon Robinson, who had been
in the country twenty years, was unwilling to stay any longer
from considerations of health. There is nothing in the
records to show what happened ; but it is certain that when
Archdeacon Robinson left Madras, India lost the services of a
most distinguished man, well fitted in every way to rule a
diocese faithfully.

' See p. 308. -' g^e pp. 352-3.



St. John's, Masulipatam. — History. Early Chaplains. Early Memorials.
Charles Bathurst and the project of building a Church. The cost. The
delay in building.

St. Mary's, Masulipatam. — General J. Pater. Major Cotgrave's claim.
Chaplains in the nineteenth century. The Company's policy with regard
to mission work after 1833.

Cannanore. — History. The delay in building. Extracts from the letter to
the Directors. Not known to be consecrated. Its enlargement in 1850-
Suggestion to rebuild it nearer the barracks. Archdeacon Shortland on the
position of garrison Churches. Description of the Church.

St. John's, Trichinopoly.— History of the cantonment. The building of the
Church. The Churchyard. Bishop Middleton and the design. The
consecration. The Church Library. The burial of Bishop Heber. His
monuments. Enlargement of bm-ial- ground, 1826. The organs and the
organ gallery. Vestry fund and Vestry school transferred from the Fort
to the cantonment. Sir E. K. Williams and the school. No punkahs
till 1850. AboUtion of the gallery, 1871. Withdrawal of British troops,
1879. Dimensions. Memorial gifts in the Church. Intramural burials.
Some Chaplains in the nineteenth century. Captain George Elers and the
Trichinopoly week.

St. John the Baptist, Masulipatam. — Masulipatam is
historically interesting from the fact that it was the first
port on the Coromandel coast visited by the ships of the
East India Company. When this occurred in 1611 the
country round about it was owned by the Mahomedan
Sultan of Golcondah. He had permitted the Dutch to
establish a factory near the mouth of the river, and to
build a small fort for the protection of themselves and their
property. The Dutch permitted the newcomers to hire
a factory house in the fort and to carry on trade for their
Company. The Dutch were exacting in their terms and not


very friendly ; ^ but by obtaining a Phirman or licence
from the ruler of Golcondah in 1632 they established their
right to share in the coast trade. Business flourished until
1679, when a destructive storm and flood partially destroyed
the native town and the native weaving industry upon which
the Dutch and English merchants depended.

During this early period the English merchants had the
occasional ministrations of a ship's Chaplain when the Com-
pany's ships were in port. Neither they nor the Dutch mer-
chants had a chapel set apart for the purpose. Services were
held in the Council Chambers. There were three resident
English Chaplains during the period :


Joseph Thomson . . . 1653-56

Walter Hooke . . . 1656-69

Thomas Whitehead . . . 1672-76

The last two died at Masulipatam, and were buried in the
' English garden,' which was about two miles W.N.W. of the
Fort and near to the houses where the Englishmen lived.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the trade of the
place was so small that the English factory was closed, and the
Dutch East India Company were left in possession. They
retained possession till 1750, when the Fort was taken by
General Bussy under orders from M. Dupleix. In 1759 it was
taken from the French by Colonel Forde, and it has remained
since then an English possession.

The memorials of Dutch occupation consist principally of
the monuments of those who died between 1624 and 1750.
The memorial of French possession was the strengthened Fort ;
but the cyclonic storm of 1864 almost completely destroyed it.

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 16 of 39)