Frank Penny.

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

. (page 22 of 39)
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 22 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

persuaded the Government to advance the money to them for
the payment of the salaries, a bond of indemnity being entered
into with the Government by three members of the committee.^
This circumstance resulted in a change of financial method.
Henceforth the salaries were sent to the M.D.C. for disburse-
ment instead of to the senior missionary at Vepery.

The M.D.C. had not taken over charge of the Vepery Mission
very long before they came to the conclusion that the salaries
given were too small. They represented this to the Bishop of
Calcutta, who concurred with their opinion, and wrote strongly
on the question to the Society .3 The result was that the salaries
were raised from £100 to £150, and the Bishop was told that
if he deemed it proper and expedient he might add on the
Society's account £50 more.

Dr. Bottler sent reports of the Vepery and Negapatam
missions and mission schools and of the Vepery Press to the
M.D.C. both in 1818 and in subsequent years ; he spent no
money over repairs without asking their consent. But this
did not blind them to the fact that their powers were limited.
They acknowledged the receipt of his reports ; but when he
asked their permission in 1818 to amalgamate two of the
mission schools,'^ they at once replied that they were not
authorised to consider such questions of missionary detail.
Dr. Bottler was either consciously learning to depend upon the
committee, or was unconsciously falling into the habit of doing

' Minute.^ of the East India Committee of the 8.P.C.K., May 9, 1818 ;
March 6, 1819 ; and Feb. 2, 1824.

* Archdeacon Mousley, the Rev. R. Keating, and Richard Clarke, Esq.
' Minutes of the Erist India Committee of the S.P.C.K., March 6, 1819.
■• The \'epery Free JSchool for Eurasians and the Tamil School.


so. Ill the year 1819 he sought their advice as to where two of
the three new men i who had just arrived should be stationed.
The M.D.C., without any assumption of right, recommended
that they should study Tamil in Madras, and reminded Rottler
that it rested with him and Kohlhoff to determine the place
of actual residence afterwards, subject to the approval of the
Bishop. At the same time they expressed a hope that one
would be stationed at Vepery. That was just what Rottler
wanted. He required an assistant and did not like to give
himself one. A little later he recommended that Rosen should
be sent to Trichinopoly. The committee approved, and added :

' But you are aware that it does not rest with them to
determine on the stationing or removing of the missionaries.
The Committee will lose no time in forwarding a copy of your
letter to the Lord Bishop of Calcutta, who alone can confirm
the propositions agreed upon in this respect by yourselves.'

In undertaking to distribute the Society's salary grants
and to take charge of their stores, the M.D.C. was making
a greater fundamental change of administration than they
knew. It suited Kohlhoff and Rottler, but subsequent mission-
aries complained bitterly of it. They said that it reduced them
from the honourable position of being direct agents of the
Society to that of subordinates of a local committee. Certainly
the handling of money adds importance to a person in the
eyes of a native of India ; the paymaster is always held in

Gradually and without any intention on their part the
Committee was sHpping into the position of authority. They
were anxious that the old system should continue, by which
the missionaries managed their own work in their own way,
but subject to the approval of the Bishop. The responsibihty
of administration and control was forced upon them by the
disinclination of Rottler and Kohlhoff to pursue the old policy.
They sought to limit their own powers, but circumstances
were against them. Control was bound to follow in the wake
of grants. For several years before 1822 they had made a
grant of Rs.40 each month for the upkeep of the Palamcottah

^ Rosen and Haubroe.


schools. In 1822 they called for a report of the schools and of
the expeiiditiu'e of the grant. The duty of a committee which
makes grants is to be assm-cd that the money is properly spent.
It was along these lines that control inevitably advanced in
spite of the unwillingness of the parent Society to grant it,
and of the District Committee to assume it.

The Palamcottah missionary was called upon to make a
report in consequence of the grant. The Committee had no
intention of studying reports from stations where they made no
grants. A report was sent to them soon afterwards from Cudda-
lore, but they sent it on to Rottler as a matter pertaining to the
missionaries themselves. All their actions showed that they
had no desire to rule, nor to do anything more than protect the
propert}^ and the interests of the mission.

In September 1820 another opportunity occurred of ex-
tending their powers if they had had any desire to do so. There
was a caste dispute in the Vepery congregation. One of the
disputants appeared before the police magistrate with a com-
plaint. The magistrate, Captain W. Ormsby, was a member
of the M.D.C. He wrote to the Secretary asking him to inter-
vene and stop the litigation. The secretary, Mr. J. Gwatkin,
ck'culated the letter to his committee, and asked them to
determine if they esteemed themselves competent to decide
a matter so ecclesiastical. He reminded them that the S.P.C.K.
made their missionaries independent of the M.D.C. in such
matters, which in the first instance were to be determined by
the missionaries themselves, with appeal to the Bishop. The
other members of the special committee agreed that they were
not competent to notice differences of opinion in the congrega-
tion ; ' it is evident by every letter from England that the
Society is not inclined to allow the M.D.C. to interfere with
mission functions.' And so the caste contention was left
untouched by the committee, possibly to the disadvantage of
the Vepery Mission.

From 180B to 1823 the whole of the mission funds of the
Schwartz and Gericke trusts were held by Dr. Eottler. There
can be no doubt that he took counsel with the missionaries and
with some member of the M.D.C. as to how he could be relieved
of the charge. In 1822 he tried to achieve this by getting


Haubroe co-opted to the trust, and giving up the mission
accounts to him and the other Vepery missionary. But this
co-option was disallowed by the Judge of the Supreme Court.
In such a matter it was impossible to proceed without reference
to liim. It was therefore decided by the missionaries in confer-
ence to invest the whole sum in Government bonds ; to deposit
the bonds for safe custody at a banking house in Madras ; and
to use only the interest for mission purposes. Accordingly the
Vepery missionaries ^ appeared at the office of Messrs. Arbuthnot
and delivered up all the promissory notes and cash in their
possession, amounting to over one and a half lacs of rupees.
One cannot help seeing in this transaction the wise advice of
the District Committee.

In March 1824 Eottler wrote to Kohlhoff at Tanjore and
told him that the Tanjore mission fund, amounting to Es. 88,600,
was to be regarded as capital, and that the half-yearly interest
must be made to meet expenses ; ' if you require more than the
interest ... it will be advisable to address the M.D.C. or
the Bishop.'

He also wrote to the surviving trustees of the Gericke fund
informing them that the Vepery mission fund amounted to
Es.67,000 ; that it was invested in the Company's bonds ; and
that the interest was payable on demand half-yearly by the
Vepery missionaries. He added : ' These sums so invested are
in my opinion entire ; so that in future no part of them can be
sold ; and if you approve of the same I beg you to do it by your
signature.' To this they signed their names.

In the draft of the letter, according to Wilham Taylor,^
there were pencil variations in another hand, showing that
Eottler had submitted it to some one for criticism. It is no
secret that he had wisely relied upon Eichard Clarke and John
Gwatkin for guidance. They knew more about business
matters than he did.

For a year the two funds were treated as one ; but as the
Vepery and Tanjore missionaries never knew exactly what their
credit balances were, the funds were separated in 1824.

At this time the Government gave notice of their intention
to pay off existing loans by borrowing money at a lower rate

1 Rottler, Haubioe, and Falcke. - Taylor's Memoir, pp. 277-79.


of interest. The M.D.C. watched the process of conversion so
that the mission should got the full benefit of it. It is probable
that the}^ were anxious that the whole amount should be
re-invested and kept entire.

The service thus rendered to the mission was very great,
and none recognised its value more thoroughly than Dr. Bottler
himself. From that time he leaned more and more upon the
M.D.C, and Avould hardly do anything without their consent
and approval. The annual accounts of all the missions were
submitted to them. They were consulted before transfers were
arranged and vacant stations filled up. They made their
recommendations and remarks. This was a change from their
former attitude. The position was not one which they had
sought, mdeed they had more than once refused it; it was
forced upon them by the circumstances of the case, and that
so strongly that they could no longer resist it.



The Committee and property. The Tanjore misappropriation. The sale of
missions. The M.D.C. as a trustee. Transfer to the S.P.G. The new
S.P.G. Committee. The S.P.G. rules. The new committee and the
Government. Call for returns and reports. Their important work.
They assume financial control. The M.D.C. rules for themselves and the
missionaries. Former sanctioned by the S.P.G. Latter referred to the
Bishop. The M.D.C. adopt their own rules. The Missionary rules.
Justification of them. Present times.

The development of committee rule which has been traced
was one of the principal results of the accumulation of property.
Pure evangelistic work united the workers and the societies
which employed them. Property divided both. There was
property at Tranquebar in which the S.P.C.K. and its mission-
aries had no part ; there was property in the Company's
territories in which the Eoyal Danish Missionary Society and
its Tranquebar agents had no part. The common nationality
of the workers could not make such property as there was
common to all.

The Madras District Committee of the S.P.C.K. watched
over the mission property with a view to its preservation for
the Society. The absurdity of leaving mission funds in the
hands of missionaries, to be absorbed in their private estate
by their executors on their death, was patent to all. The
committee had fears also of misappropriation during the
lifetime of the missionaries, which were not groundless.
Between 1823 and 1825 Sperschneider of Tanjore, with the
approval of his superior Kohlhoff, rebuilt the mission house
at Tanjore at a cost of Es.13,600. On its completion he


wrote and asked Dr. Bottler to pay the cost out of the Tanjore
mission fund, or to borrow the sum on the security of the
fund. The expense was incurred without any previous
reference to the committee or the trustees of the fund, and
without the permission of anyone in authority. Considering
the cheapness of local labour, it was a very large sum to spend
on the building of a mission house, and Dr. Rottler was
greatly upset. He wrote to the M.D.C. : ' It will, I see, be
necessary to submit the whole business to the counsel and
direction of the M.D.C ; and he wrote to his co-trustees,
Kohlhoff and Caemmerer, telling them that he had consulted
the M.D.C, and that they were of opinion that the whole
matter should be laid before the Bishop on his arrival in

Before this occurred the M.D.C. had been brought face
to face with another possibility. In the year 1817 the
Tranquebar missionaries, who had been left for several years
without help from Denmark, proposed to the Bishop of
Calcutta that he, as the representative of the S.P.C.K., should
purchase the Tranquebar Mission, with all its property in
Churches, school-houses, and lands, for the amount of its
then indebtedness to money-lenders.^ Soon afterwards the
customary supplies were renewed and the subject of transfer
was dropped.'^ Supplies were again stopped in 1819, and a
transfer'^ of eleven catechists, 1300 Christians, with chapels
and school-houses in the Tanjore country, was made to Kohl-
hoff of Tanjore, on condition that he would provide for their
upkeep. Bishop Middleton approved of the transfer.^

If there was nothing to prevent the Tranquebar mission-
aries from handing over their work and property to others
for a consideration, there was nothing to prevent their friends
and fellow-countrymen employed by the S.P.C.K. in the
Company's territories from doing the same thing, if they were
so minded, unless the property and the work were in some way

' Taylor's Memoir, p. 315.

- Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., April 20, 1818.
•' Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., May 8, 1818.
"• Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., July 2, 1819.
^ Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., July 2, 1821.


To defeat all possible chances of transfer, the S.P.C.K.
requested the Bishop of Calcutta to take the Tanjore and
Trichinopoly Missions under his protection,! as he had already
taken the Vepery Mission. They were about to withdraw
from direct missionary work themselves, and to place the care
of their missions with the S.P.G. Their German agents would
be thus assured that the mission and its property were not
deserted, and left to the workers to dispose of as they pleased.

For several years before the S.P.C.K. transferred its
duties to others, it had learned to depend upon the M.D.C.,
and to make use of them for all purposes. There was
no definite appointment or authorisation. Confidence had
grown gradually. The Society was glad enough to have a
body of men at Madras whom it could trust to carry out its
policy and preserve its property. The Society had not
desired to destroy the independence of the missionaries, nor
had the District Committee ; but it was impossible to trust
them at this period as completely as had been done in the
past. The two seniors. Bottler and KohlhofT, were incapable
of giving the younger men a lead ; the younger men in
consequence went their own way. The M.D.C. were alive
to the danger of their German agents failing to associate
their work and the mission property with the Society which
employed them. Occasionally the younger missionaries
spoke of ' our mission ' in a spirit and tone of dissocia-
tion.2 It seems certain that the M.D.C. preserved the whole
mission to the Church of England ^ as truly as it preserved
the mission property to the S.P.C.K.

The transfer was not undertaken without reason and
thought. The S.P.C.K. was convinced that the missionaries
would be placed on a better footing under the S.P.G. — a
chartered Society under the presidency of the Primate — than
under a voluntary association like their own ; ' their mission-
aries will in fact be missionaries of the Church of England.'

1 Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., Dec. 13, 1824. It
is not kno^vn why this was not done by Bishop Middleton ten years before,
if it was not done ; probably it was done, but not reported.

- ArcMeacori's Eecc/rds; Letter of Schreyvogel to the Secretary M.D.C,
March 25, 1829.

^ Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.C.K., Feb. 2, 1824.


' With Bishop's College ^ for their University and the chartered
Society for their masters, a degree of national countenance
will he afforded to the missions which they can never obtain
under the present system.' They added that they proposed
to confine their efforts to furnishing Europeans and natives
with assistance and instruction by means of books and schools.

The S.P.G. accepted the oversight of the missions in
southern India in 1825, A Madras District Committee was
formed in 1826. But the Society was not able to send any
missionary for the work until 1829. The intervening years
were years of great anxiety to all concerned. The only
crumb of comfort to the two societies was that their interests
and their property and the mission cause were in such safe
hands as those of their District Committees. The S.P.C.K.
committee could not divest itself of its responsibilities all at
once, because the S.P.G. committee was not prepared to take
them over. They gradually divested themselves of the
mission property and put the S.P.G. in possession ; but they
had to wait for the time of full surrender until the working
representatives of the S.P.G. arrived.

The Madras District Committee of the S.P.G. being formed,
the parent Society in June 1827 prescribed its duties by
resolution.- They resolved :

' That it will be the duty of the committees lately formed
in aid of the Society in India to collect subscriptions in further-
ance of their designs ; to superintend and support the native
schools of the Society, as far as their funds will allow, within
their respective Presidencies ; to correspond with and assist
the missionaries in all temporal affairs without interference
with their spiritual charge ; to communicate fully with the
Society on all these topics ; and to transmit an abstract of
their proceedings to the College ^ Council.'

The S.P.G. had rules of their own for the guidance of the

' Calcutta.

- Present : the Bishops of London and Calcutta (Turner), the Van. Dr.
Barnes (first Atchdeacon of Bombay), Messieurs Campbell and Richard Clarke
(late Madras Civil Service).

^ Bishop's College, Calcutta, the then recognised headquarters of the
Society in India.


missionaries in their employ, which had stood the test of use
in other parts of the world for a century and a quarter.!
Nothing was said in these rules about finance, property, or
committees. It was not apparently contemplated that the
missionaries would erect buildings, accumulate property, or
even hold cash balances. However, buildings came and
property too, and it became necessary to enlist the services
of businesslike laymen to deal with them. The first auxihary
committee was formed at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1769.2
After seven years the committee found it necessary to apply
to the Society for coercive power over the missionary clergy.
The Society considered that such a power ' would be highly
improper,' and the Halifax committee resigned.

In the 1827 rules relating to committees in India nothing
was said about financial control or coercive power. The
accumulation of funds and real property in the Madras
missions had made it necessary for the Bishops of Calcutta
to give these powers to the local committee of the S.P.C.K.
Without the powers they could not have conserved the
property. The new S.P.G. committee contained several
members of the older S.P.C.K. committee. They had their
own experience of the necessities of the case ; and because they
knew it to be necessary, they exercised control and coercive
power without hesitation from the moment of their existence,
with the knowledge and consent of the Bishop of Calcutta.^

The committee began its reign by informing the Govern-
ment of Madras of the transfer from the S.P.C.K. to the S.P.G.
which had taken place, and of their own future responsibility
for the superintendence of the old established missions.
This incident is an interesting sidehght on the happy rela-
tionship which existed then, and had existed for a hundred
years before, between the Government and the mission.
The letter was sent on the declared ground that ' these

' Pascoe's Two Hundred Years of the S.P.G., p. 837. These regulations
were probably the foundation of those drawn up by the S.P.C.K, in 1735 for
the guidance of theii- agents in India.

- Pascoe's Two Hundred Years of the S.P.G., p. 759.

^ See the correspondence in the Wissing case in The Bisho'p's Records,
Madras, Aug. to Nov. 1828.



missions and the ministers had hitherto enjoyed the protec-
tion and assistance of the Hon. Court of Directors as well
as of the local Governments in India.'

They then requested the missionaries to furnish them
with information about each mission station, and to send
half-yearly school, fmancial and statistical reports. They
inquired into the nature and amount of mission property
administered locally. They arranged to pay the mission-
aries monthly instead of half-3'"early. In less than two
months they collected over Rs.6000 for the mission purposes,
and began to make grants for the repair of the many mission
buildings. They dealt with the misappropriations at Tanjore
and Trichinopoly, which had been reported to the S.P.C.K.
committee. Briefly they took up the work of guidance,
government, and control at the point where that committee
had laid it down.

The first four years of their existence as a committee were
full of anxiety and business. The mission stafi' was inade-
quate ; some of the older mission stations were not even
occupied. At the suggestion of Bishop Heber they engaged
the services of the Eev. D. Schreyvogel of the Tranquebar
Danish Mission to carry on the work at Trichinopoly. The
engagement was subject to the permission of his superior at
Tranquebar.^ They purchased a mission house at Negapa-
tam ; recovered from sequestration the padre-kotagam lands
at Cuddalore ; and they made an attempt to carry out Bishop
Heber's suggestion to use the lands as an agricultural settle-
ment for Christians.^

From a certain point of view the most important thing
of all was the action they took with regard to mission finance.
At the beginning of each year they had before them the
reports and financial returns of the several missionaries for
the previous year. After examining the accounts for the
year 1826, it seemed to them that it would be far better for

* It is stated by Fengcr {Ilidanj of the Tranquebar Mission) that Schrey-
vogel ' joined the English Church by reordination in 182G ' ; and it has been
supposed from this that ho was ordained by Bishop Heber. There is no record
of the ordination. If it had been arranged or had taken place the permission
of the Superior to go to Trichinopoly would not have been required.

- Coinmillce Minutes, Oct. 21, 182(j.


all concerned if they relieved the missionaries of the manage-
ment of the pecuniary concerns of the Vepery Mission by
taking over the administration of the trust funds. They
therefore wrote to the missionaries :

* Some time will elapse before Dr. Eottler will be able to
give up in legal form the trust which ho holds of property
bequeathed for mission purposes ; the Committee are of opinion
that you should in the meantime have the option of being
relieved from the trouble of accounts, and the responsibility of
pecuniary concerns, excepting so far as presenting monthly
abstracts and paying the establishment.

' The Committee are persuaded that you will readily perceive
the prudence of such a measure ; for it frequently happens
that the habits and pursuits of a minister of the Gospel render
him averse or even incompetent to have the charge of accounts ;
or if it should be otherwise, still it appears advisable that he
should have as few distractions as possible from his spiritual

At their next quarterly meeting a letter was read from
Dr. Eottler and his colleague at Vepery agreeing to the
transfer of the Vepery mission funds to the committee, and
desiring to be relieved of all matters of finance. The mission-
aries offered no objection, and the committee were thus
encouraged to go further. In July 1827 they passed this
resolution :

' The General Meeting taking into consideration the errors
and confusion which are found in most of the mission accounts,
and the want of method that prevails in the statements which
they have received, resolve that it be referred to the Select
Committee to prepare for the approval of the General Committee
such rules and regulations as shall appear best calculated to
bring the accounts of the several missions under one uniform

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 22 of 39)