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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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system of management, and to provide against inability and
carelessness in keeping accounts.'

The Select Committee drew up two sets of rules ; one
set for the guidance of the committee and the honorary
secretary, and the other for the guidance of the missionaries.
It must be presumed that these rules, after being adopted by


the General Committee, ^Yere sanctioned by the Bishop of
Calcutta ; for the first duty of the committee was to advance
the designs of the Society under the Bishop's direction.

The rules were sent home to the parent Society and were
discussed by the East India Committee. Those relating to
the committees and the secretary were approved and adopted. ^
The East India Committee had a difficulty with regard to the
rules relating to missionaries. It did not appear to them that
it was within their province to sanction them. According
to the principles of the Society the missionaries were under
the jurisdiction of the Bishop; if it pleased him to delegate
his authority in non-spiritual matters to the Madras District
Committee of the Society, it was not for them to express either
approval or disapproval, but merely to acquiesce when
assured that the rules had the Bishop's sanction.

The M.D.C. received in 1829 the sanction of the Society
for their committee rules, with the intimation that reference
was being made to the Bishop regarding the rules for the
missionaries. Nothing more Avas heard of these rules until
1834. Meanwhile, the more simple rules drawn up in 1827
were in force.

In 1834 ~ the Rev. R. A. Denton, Hon. Secretary of the
M.D.C, was directed to write to the Society in these terms :

' In the year 1828 two sets of rules were sent home for the
approval of the Society, one referring to the Committee, the
other to the missionaries. The former was confirmed im-
mediately ; but the latter the Society deferred to confirm till
they had the opinion of the Bishop of Calcutta ; and as no
sanction '^ has ever yet reached the Committee, the missionaries
have not been called upon to obey them. I now enclose a
copy of these rules and am instructed to inform you that the
Committee have determined henceforth to consider them
applicable to the missionaries unless they hear from you to the

The committee rules recognised the paramount authority

' Proceedings of East India Committee, S.P.G., Feb. 28, 1829, p. 292.

2 Proceedings of East India Committee, S.P.G., vol. 1830-7, p. 294.

^ I.e. the sanction of the parent fcJociety, A\hiuh the M.D.C. wished to have.


of the Bishop, ' under whose jurisdiction all the Society's
missions are placed.' This was rule 8 :

' That this Committee shall be considered to have the general
superintendence and control of all matters relating to the
temporal concerns of the missions and schools, including the
receipt and payment of salaries ; all proposals for exchanging,
repairing, and buying of houses and lands for the several
missions ; with all other affairs of a general nature ; care
being taken to avoid interference with the jurisdiction of the
Archdeacon, to whom if at the Presidency all resolutions agreed
to in his absence from the committee shall be communicated
before the same are acted upon.'

The Select Committee was to consist of the Archdeacon,
the Chaplains at the Presidency who were subscribers, and
six laymen.

The rules relating to missionaries obliged each missionary :

(1) To produce on arrival his credentials for the informa-
tion of the M.D.C., and to apply to the Bishop for his licence.

(2) To keep a journal, and to transmit a copy of it
quarterly to the M.D.C. for transmission home.

(3) To make half-yearly returns to the M.D.C. of schools
and sacred offices.

(4) To correspond with other Societies only through the

(5) To abstain from interference with the duties of the
Chaplains where Chaplains were stationed.

(6) To obtain leave of absence from their station from the

(7) To abstain from opening new stations except with the
approval of the Bishop after consideration by the M.D.C.

The rules correspond with those approved by Bishop
Heber for Calcutta and Bombay in 1825.1 The consecration
and arrival of a Bishop for the archdeaconry of Madras
resulted, of course, in the curtailment of the power of the
committee over the missionaries ; but most of the rules
were retained, and the principles underlying them were still
in force at the end of the nineteenth century. The difference

1 Minutes of the East India Committee, S.P.G., Nov. 17, 1830, p. 27.


made by the coming of the Bishop was that the District
Coimnittees became the missionary councils of the Bishop,
advising him in all matters connected with finance and
secularities. The Bishops have hitherto been glad of the
co-operation and practical help thus afforded.

The powers of the committee were at the beginning so
extensive that it is necessary to find some justification of
them. Let it suffice to say that the powers were necessary
at the time they were exercised. Since then they have been
more than once modified. Rules which keep men of genius
and power in leading strings are always a cause of resentment
and vexation. In the Diocese of Madras there have been
many missionaries of this stamp in the last seventy years.
It is only necessary to mention such names as Pope, Caldwell,
Huxtable, Strachan, Billing, Blake, Margoschis, and Sharrock
to show how necessary it has been to relax the rules and

Some of the matters reserved in the nineteenth century
for the consideration of the Madras Diocesan Committee
can be adequately dealt with by the representative District
Councils which were originated by Bishops Sargent, Caldwell,
and Cell. Local self-government is the first step towards
ecclesiastical independence. India will not have a self-
contained ecclesiastical polity until native Christians have
learned to manage their own affairs. The Diocesan Com-
mittees must be for some time to come the trustees of pro-
perty, the managers and critics of finance. They have done
a valuable work as such for the past eighty years. But the
necessity of their interference in all financial matters can
be brought gradually to an end. More and more work and
responsibility must be placed on the shoulders of the District
Committees, as the only method by which the native Chris-
tians of India will bo able to learn the art of self-government.



St. Mary Mcigdalen, Poonamallee. — Poonamallee Fort. A sanatorium. Early
ecclesiastical visits. The first Chaplain, 1806. The building of the Church.
Its consecration, 1819. Enlargement, 1848. Hough, Sawyer, and the
Mission chapel. Decision to abolish the station, 1833. Decision reversed.
Modern times.

The Madras Kirlc. — Appointment of Presbyterian ministers, 1813. The
building of Kirks in the Presidency towns. The Kirk Session, 1816. De
Havilland's design accepted and carried out. The cost and the Directors,
Proposal to reduce the number of Chaplains. Opposed by the Government
of Fort St. George.

C.M.S. Chapel, Black Town. — The goodwill of the Government. The original
intention of the C.M.S. Committee. Opposition of Hindu residents. De-
cision of the Government to provide the building. Hesitation of the C.M.S.
Committee. The proclamation regarding the building of Chui'ches and
chapels. Cost of the chapel. For whom was it built. Ridsdale. Tucker.
Chapel enlarged at expense of Government, 1826. Licensed, 1828. Repaired,

St. John's, Tellicherry. — Description of the place. The first Chaplain. The
first Church. Government paid four-fifths of the cost. Hough's evidence.
Ofier to transfer the chapel to the C.M.S. ; not accepted. Neglect of the
building. Brennen's bequest. New Church built on the old site. Cost.
Subscribers. Consecration, 1868. The Brennen memorials. The burial-

St. Mary Magdalen, Poonamallee. — At the beginning of
the eighteenth century Poonamallee was a walled town of
irregular shape. An old Mahomedan fort, built by the
Nawab of the Carnatic, stood a little to the south-east of the
centre of the town. The fort, which was rectangular,
occupied a space measuring 175 yards by 42. The rampart
was 18 feet high, and there was a moat round it. The posi-
tion was one of some military importance, for it was on the
road from the coast to Arcot, the headquarters of the Nawab.


In the middle of the century the East India Company entered
into alliance with the Nawab for mutual assistance against
the combined power of Mysore and the French. During
the struggle which took place between 1780 and 1800, Poona-
mallee, both as a fort and a town, was a place of military
importance to the Company as well as to the Nawab. Between
the dates mentioned there was generally a full regiment of
Europeans in the station, and it was found expedient and
necessary to keep a full regiment there during the first quarter
of the nineteenth century. During this time there were
no proper barracks, the men lived in the fort and in the town
where they could.

Poonamallee is so situated that the drainage is good, and
the place is consequently healthy. Its reputation as a health
resort came by degrees, but it came to stay. And when it
was not considered necessary to keep a regiment of Europeans
there any longer, it was retained as a convalescent depot
for the European troops throughout the whole of the Madras
command. A proper cantonment was laid out, barracks for
500 men were built, together with a set of married quarters,
the necessary military buildings, and a Church. The fort
itself w^as cleared of its buildings, and a hospital was erected
in their place.

This arrangement was made before the Nilgiri hills were
opened up as a health resort. The station is still used as a
sanatorium for men who would not be benefited by the more
rarefied and colder air of the hills.

It obtained the name of the Queen's Depot soon after it
became a sanatorium. At that time the Company had some
regiments of Europeans in their service. In each of the
Presidency armies there were also Queen's regiments. Poona-
mallee was intended specially for men of the Queen's regi-
ments. Hence the name. There are not so many European
troops in the southern Presidency now as there were seventy
years ago. The barracks consequently give more accom-
modation than is required, and the Church is larger than it
need be.

Poonamallee is nine miles W.N.W.^ of St. Thomas' Mount,

' Tlie Qazetteer says five miles north ; but this i.s ^v^ong.


and about fifteen miles W.S.W. of Fort St. George. This
proximity to Madras and the Mount made it possible in the
early days to get the services of Chaplains when they were
urgently required. Archdeacon Leslie of Fort St. George
and the Rev. R. Owen of the Mount paid visits to Poonamallee
in 1795.^ Owen was there again in 179G. The Rev. R. H.
Kerr was there in 1802, and the Rev. C. Ball of the Mount
visited the station in 1803. The S.P.C.K. missionaries at
Madras looked after the soldiers' native wives here as at
other military stations. The Rev. C. W. Gericke is found
to have paid annual visits to Poonamallee up to the year of
his death, 1803. In 1806 the Rev. J. E. Atwood, the Chaplain
of the Mount, was appointed also Chaplain of Poonamallee,
and given a palankeen allowance " to enable him to pay
frequent and regular visits. In 1814 Poonamallee was made
a separate charge.^ This arrangement made the building
of a Church possible; for in their despatch of January 11,
1809, 153, Public, the Directors authorised the building of
a Church at all permanent military stations to which a
Chaplain was attached.

The Church was built in the years 1816 and 1817. It
had originally a nave 51 X 42 feet, and a chancel 16 x 12
feet, the height of the nave being 28 feet. It was intended
to accommodate 300 men, and it cost Rs.8586. It was
consecrated by Bishop Middleton on April 13, 1819, and
named in honour of St. Mary Magdalen. The Rev. William
Malkin was the Chaplain of Poonamallee when the Church
was built and consecrated.

The original furniture was probably of the same kind as
that at Arcot and other military Churches, consisting of
commissariat benches without backs. But in 1845 this was
altered, and the Directors expressed their approval.'*' The
addition of benches with backs made it necessary to enlarge
the building. This was done in 1848 by the addition of
two transepts, each 20 x 14 feet.'^ According to the official

1 Marriages at Fort St. Oeorge, by F. E. P.

- Despatch, Jan. 11, 1809, 15G, Public.

•^ Despatch, Nov. 3, 1815, 125, Mil.

•» Consultations, Dec. 9. 1845, 3, 4, and June 29, 1847, 8, Eccl.

* Despatch, July 16, 1851, 3, Eccl.


return of 1852 there was in consequence accommodation for
415 men, and the total cost of the building up to that date
was Rs. 17,268.

The Rev. James Hough succeeded Malkin in 1821. He
had been ministering to the garrison at Palamcottah, which
was at that time the centre of the S.P.C.K. Tinnevelly
Mission. At Palamcottah he had devoted much of his time
to the mission cause, and he brought with him to Poonamallee
all his missionary enthusiasm. He sought the assistance of
the Government to establish a school for the children of the
British soldiers ; but in this effort he was unsuccessful. There
was already a mission school where they were taught, and the
Government thought the mission school supplied all that
was necessary. It is not certain what Hough did. He was
only at Poonamallee about nine months. Bishop Caldwell,
a very careful historian,^ says that he erected a small native
Church and two schools, English and Tamil. On the other
hand the official return of Church buildings in 1852 states
that the small Church was built in 1824 by the Rev.
W. Sawyer, C.M.S. missionary. Probably Hough prepared
the way at Poonamallee for the C.M.S. Mission, as he had
previously done at Palamcottah, and left the little native
Church to be built after he had left the station. It was in-
tended for the native wives of the pensioners and soldiers and
their children. Without benches it accommodated a hundred
people. It measured internally 47 X 14 x 14 feet. It was
consecrated by Bishop Spencer in 1844, and named in honour
of St. Paul. This building has disappeared. But the local
mission is still fathered by the Chaplain, and the native
Christians hold their services in the garrison Church at times
when the building is not required by the Europeans.

Between 1830 and 1833 it was under consideration to
abolish the station altogether. An attempt was made to
keep convalescent soldiers at their own stations without
giving them the change of air and place which are now uni-
versally recognised to be advantageous. The number of
men at the depot was reduced, the Chaplain was withdrawn,
and the Chaplain of Black Town was ordered to visit the

' CaldueU's Ilidory of the Tinnevdly Mission.


station occasionally.! tj^-^ policy did not, however, last
long ; it was defeated by the undoubted advantage which
Poonamallee possessed over all other miUtary stations in the
south for the salubrity of its climate, and its fitness to be a
convalescent depot.

In 1855 the Rev. Henry Taylor, one of the best of the
Chaplains on the Madras establishment, was removed from
the Cathedral to Poonamallee for certain teaching of which
Bishop Dealtry disapproved. Taylor appealed to the
Governor in Council through Archdeacon Shortland, who
defended the teaching in question. The Government sent
the appeal to the Directors, who felt bound to support the
authority of the Bishop. They wrote ^ that on these ques-
tions the Madras Government should deal solely with the
Bishop ; they regretted that Taylor's letter had been received
through any other channel ; that it was in effect an appeal
against the censure of his Diocesan.

Although the Church was consecrated in 1819, and a
regular succession of Chaplains has ministered at Poona-
mallee since 1803, there are no register or File Books before
the year 1842. There are no monuments either in the
Church or in the cemetery to show that any officer of rank or
distinction was ever connected with the place. No individual
gifts of any value have been made. In addition to the altar
plate provided by the East India Company, there is a small
chalice with a cover for hospital celebrations, but the name
of the giver is forgotten. There is also a small perforated
silver spoon for eucharistic use. It was presented by John
Pitt in 1856 when Henry Taylor was Chaplain. The coloured
east window was purchased by the congregation in 1892.
In the same year a room in the hospital was placed at the
disposal of the Chaplain to be used as a Chapel. The congre-
gation provided the funds to furnish it, and grants of Prayer-
books and hymn-books were made by the S.P.C.K. And
when, in the year 1900, the building was put in order, the roof
raised, and the furniture renewed by the Government, the
congregation raised the sum of Rs.236 to adorn the altar with
the usual ornaments. At the time there were about 200 men,

1 Despatch, Oct. 9, 1833, 8, Eccl. ^ Despatch, Dec. 5, 1855, 2, Eccl.


women, and children in the depot, and three commissioned

The Kirlv, Madras. — When the Act of 1813, which renewed
the Company's Charter mider certain conditions, was passed,
there was an incHnation among some members of Parliament
to press upon the Company the obligation of appointing
Presbj'terian ministers to the Presidency towns in India.i
The Company, however, annomiced their intention to make
such appointments, and the obligation was not pressed. This
is what they wrote to the three Governments of Bengal,
Madras, and Bombay; : ~

' In order to show our desire to encourage by every prudent
means in our power the extension of the principles of the
Christian religion in India, we have unanimously resolved
that an addition be made to the present clerical establishment
maintained by the Company at each of our Presidencies of
Bengal, Madras, and Bombay of one minister of the Church
of Scotland, with the same salary that is granted to the Junior
Chaplain at each of the Presidencies ; and we direct that a
suitable place of worship be provided or erected at each of our
principal settlements of Bengal, Madras,, and Bombay for those
members of the Church of Scotland whom we may permit to
proceed to India to act as Chaplains at either of those places.'

From the beginning of the eighteenth century when the
London Company and the English Company united, there was a
succession of Scotchmen ^ in the Company's service. Two of the
most notable Chaplains were Scotchmen, Stevenson and Bell."*
There were two Scotch Governors during the century, and
nearly all the free merchants at the beginning of the nineteenth
century were Scotchmen. They were not all Presbyterians.
A number of them did useful service as churchwardens and
sidesmen of St. Mary's.'^ But there was sufficient national
feeling among them to make them desire to see a Kirk in Madras,
even though they might prefer the services of the Church. It

' Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, June 21 (Lords), July 8 (Commons),
July 13 (Commons).

- Despatch to Fort St. George, Nov. 12, 1813, 2, Public.

^ The spelling of the period is retained.

■* See Church in Madras, i. G70, 078. " See ibid. i. 559, 560.


is a noteworthy fact that when the Court of Dkectors decided
to employ Presbyterian ministers and to build Kirks, their
thoughts were not with the various Scotch regiments in India,
but with their servants and the free merchants of the Presi-
dency towns. The 1st Eoyal Eegiment was just completing
its Indian service. The Memoir of Sergeant Butler suggests
how greatly the men might have benefited all through their
service from the ministrations of a Chaplain who could under-
stand them and make himself understood. But the appoint-
ments were to the Presidency towns, and there the Kirks were
to be built.

The Directors seem to have had an idea that when they had
appointed the ministers and built the Kirks their duty would
be done, and that nothing more would be necessary. Li the
year 1815 the Government of Fort St. George reported that a
site had been purchased .i The Directors approved, and added
their hope that after building the Church they would be put to
no expense for upkeep."

There was a delay of five years between the arrival of the
Scotch minister and the building of the Kirk. During that time
Presbyterian services were held in the College Hall at Egmore.^
The records do not show that there was any general desire on
the part of the local Scotchmen to forsake St. George's or St.
Mary's for the sake of the new venture. There were however
some, and the number was sufficient to form a Kirk Session for
the management of Kirk affairs before the end of the year

The Kirk Session was authorised by the Government to
purchase ' the Mason's Lodge ' for the purpose of increasing
the area of their site.* It is probable that they conferred with
Major de Havilland, who had succeeded Colonel Caldwell as
Chief Engineer of the Presidency, to whom fell the duty of pro-
viding and carrying out the design of the building. De Havil-
land was more ambitious than Caldwell, and was not content
to get hold of a good design and copy it. He determined to

1 Letter, Jan. 25, 1816, Public.

- Despatch, Oct. 22, 1817, Eccl.

•* Letter, Jan. 25, 1816, 233, Public.

■• Consultations, Feb. 24, 1817, Nos. 13, U, Public.


have a domed building, and to work out all the calculations
himself. He lived in the Mount Road. In his own compound
he erected a small domed building as an experiment. ^ From
this he found out what support was required, and what outward
pressure had to be provided against ; and he submitted his plans
and estimates to the Governor in Council. The Governor was
a Scotchman and was much interested ui the originality of the
plans. Consequently the design was accepted and the estimate
passed, though the latter exceeded 1| lacs of rupees.'^

Li course of time the building was finished, and a steeple
was added of a somewhat similar design to that of St. George's,
Choultry Plain. The outside of the east wall is decorated
with the royal arms in relief. The lion has a hump like a
comitry bullock, and about this there has been a good deal of
amusing banter in Madras ever since."^ When the building was
ready for use it was fomid that the dome caused such an echo
that nothing that was said or read could be distinctly heard.
The echo had to bo killed ; this was done at a further expense
of Rs.4800. The Government of Madras wrote to the Directors
in 1822 recording all that had been done and the cost of the
work. This was the bill :

Building Es.178,037

Original cost of site .... 16,443
Further purchase of ground (paid from

Lottery Fund) * . . . . 2,406

Commission to Engineer . . . 14,746

Alteration to kill echo .... 4,800


The Directors in reply ^ expressed more than dissatisfaction ;
they were angry. They said that Churches ' more capacious
than that of St. Andrew's had been completed in various parts
of India for one-fourth part of the sum expended ' ; they said

' It is still standing and is used as a shop.
- Comullations, March 23, 1819, Nos. I, 2, Public.

■' It is supposed to represent the temper of the British lion when hia Church
on the Choultry Plain was eclipsed by the new design.
^ Con.ndtntions. .Inly 26, 1822, Nos. 11, 12, Eccl.
» Despatch, July 28, 1824, Eccl.


that the cost of the Kirk at Bombay was Es.45,354 ; they said
that this sum had ' been expended in the construction of a
building to hold 440 persons, and frequented on an average by
not more than 40 or 50.' Included in the cost of building was a
charge of Rs.6650 for bells and gateways.^ The Directors were
not told of this ; if they had been told they might have said
more ; for it was against their principles to provide bells, which
they looked upon as a luxury which a congregation could supply
without their assistance. The original estimate was exceeded ^
by Rs.21,990. However, the money was spent, and the
local Government showed no sign of contrition. They had
provided the gallant Scotchmen of the Presidency, who had in

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 23 of 39)