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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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The only memorial of the presence of the English merchants at
the place in the seventeenth century is the tombstone of Mr.
John Rowland in a burial-ground at Englishpalem near the
native town. This burial-ground was probably the ' English
garden ' where burials in the seventeenth century took place.

' The English Factories in India, by W. Foster, 1906; Letters received by
the East India Company from their servants in India, by Biidvvood and Foster-


It contains many broken stones, but only John Eowland's
inscription remains legible.

When the English took possession in 1759 they laid out and
enclosed a military cemetery in the north-west corner of the
Fort. The oldest monument in this burial-ground is that of
Captain Blacker of the 7th M.N.L, who died in 1787. After
that date there is a succession of memorials until the year
1834, when the British troops were withdrawn. Among
those commemorated are Colonel Charles Eraser, who died
in 1795 when in command of the Northern Division —
he was the father of General Hastings Eraser, and General
John S. Eraser of Hyderabad ;— Michael Topping, the civil
engmeer (1796) who surveyed the district and origuiated
the idea of the Godavery anient and the irrigation project
afterwards carried out by Sir Arthur Cotton ; and Charles
Bathurst, the Chaplain (1813), who took a prominent part in
the erection of St. John's Church in the Eort.

There are others also ^ whose names recall the eminent
services of some civilians and soldiers who helped in their
time to consolidate the Indian empire.

When St. Mary's Church was built two miles from the Eort
near the European residences, a burial-ground was laid out near
it. This is still in use. Here lies the body of Kobert Noble,
the pioneer missionary of the C.M.S. m the Telugu country.
The Government of Madras have singled out his tomb as one
of historical interest and keep it in repair.

In 1795 the Brigade of British and native troops was
transferred from Ellore to Masulipatam, as the former was
considered a hot and unhealthy station. They were quartered
in the Fort. At Ellore they had had a Chaplain and the pros-
pect of a Church.- At Masulipatam they had neither. In the
year 1800 a Chaplain was sent, the Eev. E. Vaughan ; but no
effort to build a Church was made in his time. He was suc-
ceeded in 1807 by the Eev. Charles Bathurst. The letter
of Lieutenant- General MacDowall, the Commander-in-Chief,
recommending the construction of chapels in all stations in the
Company's territories where European troops were likely to be
quartered, ' whatever may be urged to the contrary,' was

' See J. J. Cotton's Inscriptions, 1905. - See Church in Madras, i. 415.

VOL. n. N


written in November 1807. This letter enabled Cbarles
Bathui'st and the civil and military officers to take up the
question. They met and reported to Government that they
Avere unanimous in their wishes to see a Church built. They
urged that there were at the time m the station a regiment of
Eui'opeans, a battery of artillery, and ' a numerous society of
civil and military gentlemen ' ; and they asked the Government
to assist them to carry out their desire. The Government
promised to give 1000 pagodas (£400) and reported the promise
to the Directors. 1 The Directors approved,- and added that
according to the recommendation of the Commander-m-Chief
chapels should be erected upon the same cheap plan at all
permanent military stations to which a Chaplain is attached.
Apparently they thought that £400 would be the total cost of
each building. This placed the Government of Madras in a
difficulty ; for as the estimates for building at other military
stations came m, and were found to be six times as much as
£400, the Government were unwilling to proceed without
further reference. This made a long delay before anything
was done anywhere.

The civil and military officers of Masulipatam showed their
great desne for a Church by contributing 5700 pagodas towards
its cost (£2280). The Government had contributed £400, and
£600 more was requii'ed. They therefore solicited a further
grant. The Government thereupon directed that all money
subscribed by individuals for the buildmg should be paid into
the Treasury, and the building completed by the Engineer of
the Division.'^ The Dii'ectors approved.^ The official return
of the cost of the building ^ was £3363. It is of interest to note
that more than two-thirds of this amount was raised locally.

From time to time repairs and alterations were carried out
both at the Fort Church and the Fort cemetery.*^ A belfry

' Letter, Jan. 31, 1808, 126, Public.

- Despatch, Jan. 11, 1809, 153, Public.

' Letter, March 15, 1811, 650-52, Mil.

' Despatch, April 29, 1814, 71, Mil.

^ Official Return of Churches, 1852.

« Letter, April 30, 1816, 21, Public ; Despatch, Oct. 22, 1817, 19, Eccl. ;
Letter, Oct. 2, 1832, 9, 10, Eccl. ; Despatch, Oct. 9, 1833, 12, Eccl. ; Letter
Dec. 3, 1833, 2-6, Eccl. ; Despatch, June 18, 1834, Eccl.

O *

I- Q


and a compound wall were provided in 1846.1 By that time the
European troops had been removed and the glory of Masuli-
patam as a station had departed. There remained only at that
date a regiment of native infantry with its European officers,
a small official community of civilians, a few European mer-
chants, and a small body of Eurasians, some in the service of
Government and some not.

In carrying out the recommendation of the Commander-in-
Chief and the will of the Government with regard to Church
building there was a delay of four years. General Hay Mac-
Dowall made his recommendation in November 1807. In the
following month two letters in the Military Department went
home" to the Directors advising compliance with his suggestion.
In January 1808 a letter on the same subject was also despatched
in the Public Department, and later in the year another.^
The Directors replied to the first three letters and sanctioned
the necessary expenditure in 1809.* This despatch may have
been lost in transit. The French had war vessels at Mauritius
on purpose to intercept the Company's ships, and were success-
ful sometimes in capturing them. Whatever happened the
despatch of 1809 did not arrive at Madras ; for two years
later the Directors wrote ^ to the Coast Government in the
Military Department : ' You have already had our sentiments
communicated to you in para. 153 of our Letter in the Public
Department dated Jan. 11, 1809.' And six months later they
wrote 6 to the same Government in the Public Department :
' We have already sanctioned in para. 153 of our Public Letter
dated Jan. 11, 1809, the disbursement of Pags.lOOO for the
construction of a chapel at Masulipatam.' In consequence of
the delay Church building was at a standstill not only at
Masulipatam, but at other military stations in the Presidency.
The Port Church at Masulipatam was still unfinished when
the consecration commission and instruments from Lambeth

1 Letters, May 1 and Nov. 24, 1846, Eccl. ; Despatch, Oct. 20, 1847.

2 Letters, Dec. 14, 1807, 49-52, Mil. ; Dec. 24, 1807, 46-52, Mil.

3 Letters, Jan. 31, 1808, 126, PubUc ; Oct. 24, 1808, 168-72, Public.
* Despatch, Jan. 11, 1809, 153, PubHc.

5 Despatch, Jan. 23, 1811, 23, Mil.

6 Despatch, July 10, 1811, 111, 112, Public.

N 2


Palace arrived in 1812.^ It remained unconsecrated till the
station was visited by Bishop Spencer in 1842. Its dimensions
were 71 x 52 x 21 feet. It was in use up to 1864, when a
cyclonic storm, combined probably with a subaqueous volcanic
disturbance,- overwhelmed the Fort and the town and every
fishing village along the coast for eighty miles by means of a tidal
wave. After this Masulipatam ceased to be a military station.
The ruined barracks were pulled down, the Church dismantled,
and the furniture handed over to the C.M.S. for use in the
Pettah Church. When the building was consecrated it was
dedicated to God in honour of St. John the Baptist, but it
was kno^vn by this name from the time it was completed.

In 1845 occm'red one of those disputes between the Chaplain
and the Commanding Officer which were not unusual at that
time, since their relative duties and powers had not been exactly
defined. The General Officer commanding the Northern
District took upon himself to alter the position of the furniture
in the Church on a certain Sunday morning before service, and
claimed the right of fixing the hours of service on week days.
The Government were appealed to and ruled that the General
had exceeded his powers, and that it was incumbent upon him
to avoid in future all similar differences and collisions with
the Reverend Clergy.'^ The Dkectors approved.

St. Mari/s, Maswiipatom.— Major-General John Pater was
stationed at Masulipatam in command of the Northern Division
from 1809 to 1811. The death of a lady in November 1809,
to whom he was greatly attached, was the indirect cause of his
building this chapel in the cantonment, two miles west of the
Fort ; for there was, tradition says, a burial difficulty. No
one knows exactly what occurred. The story told by a native,
who was an old man at the time of the cyclone and was
a boy of fourteen in 1809, was that the body was embalmed,
clothed in white satin and placed in a coffin with a glass lid ;

1 Letter, Jan. 10, 1812, 37, Publio.

- Mr. F. Brandt, Madi-as Civil Service, who was later one of the Judges of
the High Court, Madras, says that the water, as it poured through the Collector's
house with a depth of fourteen feet, was warm. For an account of this catas-
trophe, in which 30,000 lives were lost, see the Kislna District Manual, by
G. T. Mackenzie, M.C.S.

=* Letter, Dec. 23, 1845, 2-0, Eccl. ; Despatch, March 10, 1817, 44, Eccl.


that the coffin was then placed in a verandah room of the
bungalow where the lady died, and remained there for nearly
two years. During this time General Pater conceived the idea
of building a chapel to receive her remains. He obtained the
permission of the Government to do this.^ The Government
reported to the Directors that they had given the necessary
permission ^ to erect the building on Government land, and
the Directors expressed their approval.^

When the chapel was finished the coffin was placed in a
vault in its present position and covered with a polished marble
slab. Over the slab was placed a rich silk carpet. This
covering was destroyed by the sea water in 1864 and was not

The chapel, which only measured 60 x 30 x 20 feet, was
not originally intended for public worship. It was completed
at the end of 1811, but the owner did not permit its public
use till four years later. There is a tablet over the north door
recording the day when it was first used, December 10, 1815.

Wlien General Pater left Masulipatam in 1811 for a higher
appointment in Madras, it seemed to those who were left behind
that the memorial chapel might be put to some practical use.
A local committee was formed for the purpose of corresponding
with him.'* It consisted of Colonel Bowness, President; the
four Judges, Webb, Cherry, Travers, and Tod ; the Collector,
G. E. Eussell ; and Captain Burton, who commanded the
Artillery. Dr. William Eoy, the Chaplain, was honorary secre-
tary and treasurer. They represented to General Pater how
great would be the convenience to those who lived in the canton-
ment to have a place of worship nearer to them than the Port.
They undertook the expense of furnishing the building and adapt-
ing it to the requirements of Church worship. The General
was easily persuaded to fall m with their wishes, and when the
building was furnished and ready for use he presented it with-
out condition to the East India Company.'^ The Government

^ Consultations, April 9, 1811.

- Letter, Jan. 10, 1812, 244, Public.

'■^ Despatch, June 3, 1814, 116, Public.

* St. Mary's Church Records.

' Consultations, April 9, 17, 23, 1816, Public.


of Madras informed the Directors of the ' munificent gift,'
and reported that they had sanctioned a small establishment
for the care and protection of the buildmg, and a palanquin
allowance for the Chaplam.i The Directors acknowledged the
gift and said, without any knowledge of the local ch'cumstances :2
' We appreciate no less the motives which influenced him
[General Pater] in constructing a chapel for divine worship
than his subsequent act of presenting it to the Company.'

Lieutenant- General John Pater died at Madras m October
1817, and was buried in St. Mary's cemetery. By his will
he left 300 pagodas ' to the school now forming at Masulipatam
and attached to my chapel there.' Soon after his death
Major Cotgrave of the Madras Engmeers, who had superin-
tended the construction of the chapel, preferred a demand
against the General's estate for Rs.8080, and brought a suit
in the Supreme Court agamst the executors of the will. The
executors could not prove that the claim had been paid, so
Major Cotgrave obtained a decree. The Government of Fort
St. George paid the amount claimed and reported to the
Directors,^ who, when signifying their approval, declared their
conviction that the debt was unknown to General Pater.

As long as there were British troops in the Fort, the Chaplain
lived there, and the principal services were at the garrison
Church. At St. Marj^'s Chapel there was regular evening
service for the community that lived in the cantonment. After
1834, when the Fort had become very insanitary and the
British troops were removed, the comparative importance of
the two Churches was reversed. The Chaplain took up his
abode in the cantonment, and the principal services were held
at St. Mary's.

At various times repau's and alterations of the structure
took place. In 1846 a l^elfry and a compound wall were
added,' and ten years later it was necessary to renew the roof.^

When ,the 4tli Battalion of European Infantry w^as trans.

> Letter, Sept. 20, 1816, 105, 100, Public.

- Despatch, Oct. 22, 1817, 21, Eccl.

3 Despatch, July 28, 1824, 23, Eccl.

■» Letters, May 1 and Nov. 24, 1840, Eccl.

» Letter, Nov. 11, 1850, 7, Eccl.


ferred from Ellore to Masulipatam in 1795 the Rev. R. H. Kerr
went with them and stayed with them for a short time. He
had no successor till the year 1800. Then there was a succes-
sion of Chaplains till 1834 :



Charles Bathurst

. 1807-13

William Roy .

. 1815-20

Joseph Wright

. 1821-23

Richard W. Moorsom

. 1823-26

Edward P. Lewis

. 1828-34

After 1834 the station was considered too small for the services
of a resident Chaplain, more especially as there was a resident
C.M.S. missionary who was willing to conduct a weekly service
for the Europeans and Eurasians. It was, however, at this
period that the Directors, who were no longer a Company of
merchants but a Company of rulers, thought it incumbent upon
them to sever themselves entirely from all missionary effort.
What they could do and had done as a body of private merchants
they considered that they ought not to do under the changed
conditions of the 1833 Charter. To prevent all suspicion of
co-operation with missionary endeavour they declined further
clerical assistance for their European servants from the mission-
ary clergy of the Church, and sent Chaplains to minister in
their places. Four such Chaplains were appointed between
1844 and 1864 :


. 1844-47

. 1849-55

. 1855-60

. 1861-64

Henry Taylor .
John P. Pope .

Meade N. Stone
John English .

Then came the cyclone and the ruin of the station. ^ St.
Mary's was not greatly damaged. The C.M.S. determined
to keep open their mission. Very few Europeans remained.
On the recommendation of the Bishop of Madras, St.
Mary's was handed over to the C.M.S. till required for

' John English slept through it, and knew nothing about the awful visitation
till next morning.


official use. The Government keep the building in repair
and the cemeteries in order, and pay the watchmen. The
missionaries of the C.M.S. provide English services for the
few officials and others who are left in the station.

In 1879 the Church furniture of St. John's in the Fort was
transferred to the C.M.S. for use until otherwise required. ^
Some of this furniture was removed to St. Mary's, hut it was
old and had seen its best days, so that within a few years it
was necessary to replace most of the articles with new ones.
This was effected between the years 1885 and 1890, and in
consideration of the kindness of the C.M.S. missionaries in
providmg services for the English residents the Government
paid half the cost.

St. Mary's Church was consecrated by Bishop Spencer on
January 10, 1842, with the approval and co-operation of the
Government. The official return of the original cost of the
Church made in 1852 was Es.17,099.

There was a small Roman Catholic chapel in the Fort, dating
probably from the time of the French occupation, which had
been used by the Roman Catholic soldiers of the English regi-
ments in succession. This was repaired by Government in
1883 at a cost of Rs.2150.2

Cannanore. — This station is on the sea coast of the District
of Malabar. The District is of great interest because of its
early trade connection with Egypt, Arabia, and the eastern
countries of Europe. Here St. Thomas the Apostle is tradi-
tionally said to have landed and pursued his apostolic labours.
Here the Syrian churchmen of Asia Minor came three centuries
later to the help of the Christians on the coast and impressed
their own churchmanship on them. At Calicut in the same
District the Portuguese adventurers, under Vasco de Gama,
landed in 1498. The population is probably composed of a
greater variety and mixture of races than any other part of
India. There are to be found here descendants of the Aborigines,
the Dravidians, Syrians, Arabs, Jews, Portuguese, Dutch,
and English. The oppressive rule of the Hindu Zamorin of
Calicut caused the inhabitants to seek, in 1770, the protection

> CO., April 1, 1879, No. 1, Eccl.

- G.O., Dec. 10, 1883, No. 3544, Works.


of Tippoo Sultan, the Mahomedan ruler of Mysore. His
oppression and bigotry caused them to seek the assistance of
the English East India Company ; and in 1792 the District was
ceded by treaty to the English. During the last two years of
the century it was the scene of warfare and bloodshed, the
opposing forces being those of Hyder Ali of Mysore and the
Company. As soon as the Mysore power was crushed, British
troops were stationed at Palghaut, Calicut, Tellicherry, and
Cannanore. The last-named place remained an important
military station for over eighty years. It was one of the seven
military stations specified by the Directors in 1805 i as places
where they would be ready to sanction the erection of houses
of worship at a moderate expense.

A similar delay took place in carrying out their intention as
took place at Masulipatam. The delay was partly owing to a
consideration of the cost, and partly to the irregularity of the
arrival of letters from home. It was not till 1811 ~ that the
Governor in Council wrote to the Directors and informed them
of their decision to erect Churches at Bangalore, Cannanore,
Trichinopoly, and Bellary. They said :

938. ' The officers commanding in Mysore and in Malabar
submitted for our consideration the want of a proper edifice at
Bangalore and Cannanore for the purposes of pubhc worship,
and proposed at the same time that buildings for that purpose
should be erected at those stations respectively. We also
received from the Acting Senior Chaplain ^ at the Presidency
an address to the same purport, and suggesting the propriety
of building suitable chapels at the different principal stations of
the Army with the view of rendering the services of the clergy
in this country effectual to the purposes of their appointments.'

939. ' The total want of any buildings of the description above
mentioned, and the important considerations attached to the
maintenance of a due spirit of religion among the European
soldiery, induced us to accede to the recommendation of the
Acting Senior Chaplain ; and we accordingly directed the
Military Board to prepare for consideration plans and estimates
of chapels calculated to accommodate a congregation of from

' Despatch, June 5, 1S05, 9, Public.
2 Letter, March 15, 1811, 938-41, Mil.
^ The Rev. Edward Vaughan.


400 to 600 persons to consist of the military and other inhabit-
ants at the station in the service or otherwise.'

940. ' In obedience to our orders the Mihtary Board have
submitted the plans and estimates required, which meeting
with our approbation we have directed chapels to be erected
at the several stations undermentioned, viz. at Bangalore,
Cannanore, and Trichinopoly, capable of accommodating 600
persons, and at Bellary 400 persons.'

941. ' The chapels when finished are to be placed under the
charge of the clergymen of the several stations above mentioned.
The amount of the several estimates is pagodas 17,844.'

The estimated cost was about 5000 pagodas (£2000) for
each of the three larger chapels, and about 3000 pagodas (£1200)
for the smaller one.

At the end of 1811 the building at Cannanore was approach-
ing completion. Both it and the burial-ground of the station
were included by the Senior Chaplain in the list of places which
it was desirable to set apart from common use by means of
consecration, when he requested the Government to obtain for
him from the Archbishop of Canterbury the necessary authority
and powers to consecrate. i The authority and the necessary
instruments were obtained and sent ; ^ the Directors paid the
fees ; but the ceremony was postponed in anticipation of the
early arrival of the first Bishop of Calcutta. The delay was
unfortunate, for no record has been found that either the
Church or the burial-ground was ever consecrated at all. It
has apparently been assumed generation after generation that
the consent of the Government and the authority of the Arch-
bishop were acted upon when they were given. It was the
intention to dedicate the building to God in honour of St. John
the Evangelist, and the Church has from the beginning been
known by his name ; but being without proper dedication it
has no ecclesiastical right to the name by which it is known.

In 1833 military guards were withdrawn from all military
Churches in India, and one or more watchmen were appointed
in their place. Two such peons were allotted to Cannanore.^

» Letter, Jan. 10, 1812, 37, 38, Public.

- Despatch, Jan. 29, 1813, 7, Public.

3 Letter, May 27, 1834, 1-4, Eccl. ; Despatch, March 18. 1835, 17, Eccl.


In 1850 the accommodation was found insufficient, and the
Government sanctioned an expenditure of Es.7600 to enlarge
it by the building of wings or transepts. It was proposed
locally to build a new Church in another position nearer the
barracks, and the Church Committee undertook to raise a
considerable portion of the cost of a new building if the Govern-
ment approved of the suggestion. The reason of this desire
was that the Church was 920 yards from the barracks, which
seemed to all in the station an unnecessarily long distance for
the soldiers to march. The Government did not approve of the
suggestion. The application for rebuilding the Church was
sent through the Archdeacon. In forwarding it to the Govern-
ment he remarked that ' this is not the only instance in which
a Church has been erected at Government expense in an ill-
chosen and inconvenient situation ' ; and he added that it was
so ' at almost all the principal stations in the country.' This
generalisation of his was not just. He had in his mind's eye
probably the situation of the Churches at Bangalore, Trichino-
poly, and Secunderabad. At Bangalore and Secunderabad
the cantonments were extensive, and there was one Church in
each place. If it was near one set of barracks, it was bound
to be some distance away from the others ; it could not be near
all because they were not arranged in a circle. At Trichinopoly
there was a desire to have the burial-ground round the Church,
so the Church was built about 600 yards from the barracks.
But in none of these cases could the sites be rightly called ill-

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 17 of 39)