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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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many ways helped to build up the British power in the south,
with a Church they could be proud of ; one that cost as much
as the seven new military churches at Trichinopoly, Secundera-
bad, Cannanore, Arcot, Bangalore, Poonamallee, and Bellary
cost altogether. After this they could not complain of neglect.
The same desire to please them was exhibited in later times.
In 1834 a handsome ceiling was provided at a cost of Rs.1117,
and a pulpit was put in which cost Es.1714.3

The cost of the new buildings that were necessary for civil,
military and ecclesiastical purposes was very great. A com-
mission was appointed in 1829 to consider what could be done
to reduce expenditure. They proposed among other things
to abolish four English and two Scotch Chaplains. The Govern-
ment of Madras deprecated any reduction of the English
establishment. They said : ■^

' In the ecclesiastical estabhshment a reduction is proposed
by the abohtion of four Enghsh and two Scotch Chaplains.
Not being acquainted with the gromids of this recommendation
we can offer upon it no detailed opinion ; but we think the
honour and welfare of the Company's Service and Government
deeply concerned in providing reasonable means of religious

1 Consultations, Jan. 24, 1820, Nos. 9, 10, Eccl.

2 Consultations, Nov. 30, 1821, Nos. 15, 16, Eccl.

^ Letter, May 6, 1834 ; Despatch, March 18, 1835, 9. The Directors were
again angry ; they said that the charge for the pulpit ^\'as extravagant and

^ Letter, Sept. 24, 1830, 65, 66, 67, Financial.


worship and communion for the several officers and servants
at the principal stations of their residence ; and with this
feeling we are more inclined to recommend an increase than a
diminution of the English Chaplains.'

In the followmg paragraphs they regretted ' the late violent
contentions ' of the two Scotch ministers, and praised ' the
reverend gentlemen who now administer the rites of the English
Church at the Presidency.'

The appointment of two Scotch Chaplains at Madras made it
possible for one or the other to minister to any Scotch regiment
which happened to be in the Madras Presidency. Since that
time two others have been appointed, and two Churches built,
one at Bangalore and one at Secunderabad. This has made it
possible for Scotch regiments to be stationed in the Presidency
without being deprived of the ministrations most of them prefer
in buildings of their own.

The C.M.S. Chayel, Black Toi07i.-In the year 1818 the
Government of Fort St. George commenced the building of this
chapel at the public expense, and it was opened for use on
October 11, 1820. In giving assistance of this kind to a mission-
ary society of the Chmxh they were pursuing an old policy
which has already been traced from their first co-operation with
the S.P.C.K. to the year 1805.1 rpi^e Churches at Vepery and
Cuddalore were their gifts to the missionaries of that Society,
and the building of the Churches at Tanjore and Trichinopoly
was largely assisted by them. This policy was not the ruling
motive in the case of the Black Town mission chapel. The
ancient goodwill remained, or the expense would not have been
incurred ; but there were also other causes at work which con-
tributed to the formation of their determination in 1818.

Between the years 1813 and 1818 there was an increase of
missionaries in Madras carrying on their work in the name of the
Church. The S.P.C.K. had two men at Vepery, Paezold and
Eottler, and the work was assisted by the formation of a local
committee in 1815. The C.M.S. sent out their first men in
1814,- and a corresponding committee was formed in Madras

^ See The Church in Madras, vol. i.

- The first arrivals were Rhcnius and Schnarre, who went to Tranquebar in
July 1814. In July 1815 they returned to Madras.


soon after their arrival. In January 1817 the secretary of this
committee i wrote to the Eev. J, Pratt, secretary of the
Society in London, and informed him that the committee had
purchased a plot of land in the centre of Black Town, on which
they intended to build a mission chapel. In the following
May he wrote again, reporting the progress of the building.
When he wrote in October of that same year he had to report
the existence of a strong opposition to the project on the part
of the Hindus in the neighbourhood, and that they had
petitioned the Governor in Council to prevent the completion
of the scheme. The Superintendent of Police was deputed to
make inquiry, and in December 1817 all work on the building
was stopped.

The Government did not require a reminder that they
had allowed Mr. Loveless of the L.M.S. to reside in Madras
in 1806, and to build a chapel in Davidson Street, Black
Town, in 1810.^ Nor did they forget that another agent of
the same Society was receiving from them encouragement and
a fixed allowance for conducting services in English at Vizaga-
patam. The recollection of these things made it impossible
for them to treat the missionaries of the C.M.S. with less
liberality than they had shown to others not connected with
Church societies. After consultation the Government wrote
on April 19, 1818, as follows to the Secretary of the C.M.S.
Madras Committee : '■''

' The Et. Hon. the Governor in Council, as expressed in
the letter of December 23, 1817, considered it equitable that
the Society should be indemnified for the expense incurred by
them on account of the Church the building of which was
stopped by the Government ; and is also of opinion that in
every point of view it will be preferable that the Government
should undertake the care and expense of building a Church
for the Native Protestants of Madras, either on the new site
or on some other well adapted for the purpose. With these
intentions a reference will be made to the Military Board to
ascertain the value of the ground first chosen as a site with the

^ Mr. G. J. Casamajor of the Company's Civil Service.
- Despatch, April 2, 1813, 109, Public.
■* C.M.S, Records at Salisbury Square.
VOL. u. S


materials upon it, and the uses to which they may be apphcable,
and to obtain a plan and estimate of a Church on the new site,'

The offer of compensation, together with an offer to build a
Church, would seem to ordinary people a most kind and
considerate action. But the Madras Secretarj'^ of the C.M.S.
suspected the Government and their offer of gifts. He wrote
to the C.M.S. Secretary in London : i

' You will instantly feel how unsatisfactory this is. . . .
We must request a distinct explanation whether the Church to
be built at the expense of Government is to be annexed to our
Mission, as the one in building was intended, under the patron-
age of the C.M.S. My doubts as to the purposes of Government
I must acknowledge are considerable.'

His doubts were soon set at rest ; and probably his sense of
gratitude increased when he understood that the Church was a
gift to the Society in addition to full compensation for all that
had been expended at the forbidden site.

A year later - he wrote again to the Secretary of the C.M.S.
in London and said :

' Our Mission Church is now likely to go on without delay.
On digging for the foundation the Engineer ^ discovered that
the soil was loose, &c. He was obliged to get the sanction of
Government to build at additional expense on wells.'

The political and religious difficulty brought to the notice
of the Government by the action of the C.M.S. Committee
in Madras, in attempting to erect a chapel in a neighbourhood
against the wish of people of other religions residing in it, was
met by a proclamation * of the Government in 1818 forbidding
the erection of places of Christian worship anywhere without
their permission.

When the mission Church was finished the Government sent
to the Directors a full account of what had taken place. They

> Letter, dated AprU 22, 1818, to Home Secretary, C.M.S.

- Letter, dated April 16, 1819, to Home Secretary, C.M.S.

^ Major de Havilland.

" Approved by the Directors, Despatch, July 28, 1824, 33, Eccl.


mentioned that ' in order to evince their favourable disposition
towards the Missionary Society and the Native Protestants
Hving under the Company's protection ' they had defrayed the
building expenses already incurred by the C.M.S., and built a
chapel on an unobjectionable site, and that the cost had
been :

Compensation for amount expended . Es.7,934
Cost of new Church .... 21,2G2

Alterations 1,437


The Directors replied : i

' We entirely approve of your proceedings, which clearly
show our Native subjects your desire to respect their religious
observances, and to leave them in the uninterrupted exercise
of them ; and at the same time to countenance and support
the dissemination of the Christian religion.'

Some doubts have arisen in recent years as to the class of
persons for whom the Church was intended. All the contem-
porary documents mention the native Protestants of the neigh-
bourhood. Most likely the C.M.S. intended to build for all
their different purposes, that is for the benefit of European and
Eurasian natives of India as well as for Christian native Indians.
In 1827 the Madras secretary wrote to the C.M.S. secretary in
London :^

' It will be gratifying to you to learn that the Mission
Church in Black Town is well attended by the European and
half-caste inhabitants of this place, particularly in the evening
when the Eev. J. Ridsdale officiates.'

Mr. Ridsdale had a difficulty in acquiring a practical knowledge
of foreign languages. He was therefore left in charge of the
European and Eurasian work, and this work of his was much
appreciated at the mission chapel.^ Ten years later the

1 Despatch, July 2S, 1824, 20, Ecol.

- Letter from the Rev. John Hallewell, Chaplain, datotl Maj^ 15, 1827, to
Home Secretary, C.M.S.

^ Letters to Home Secretary, C.M.S., March 12, 1828 ; and from the Home
Secretary, C.M.S., May 13, 1828 ; October 31, 1829 ; June 14, 1830.

S 2


incumbent of the chapel was the Rev. John Tucker, a clergy-
man of more than usual ability and preaching power. A lady
published this record of the state of affairs in 1838 : i

' In the evening we went to a chapel in Black Town, some
miles from the place where we live, and so crowded that we
were obliged to be there three quarters of an hour before the
time in order to secure seats ; but we were well repaid for our
labour and trouble ; we heard a most delightful preacher ; his
sermon was clear, true and striking. . . . His chapel was
originally intended for half-castes, but he is so popular that
the Europeans will go there too. People complain that those
for whom the chapel was built - are kept out in consequence,' &c.

Mr. Tucker was incumbent for fifteen years ; so great was his
influence that the chapel became known as his, and has retained
the name of Tucker's chapel down to the present day.^

There is a trust fund connected with it for the benefit of
Em'asians. All this seems to show that the recent contention
that the chapel was intended for native Indians only cannot be

In the year 1826-27 the Church was enlarged, the ventilation
improved, and an organ gallery erected for the school children.
This was done at the expense of the Government. The Directors
were not pleased. They said : i' ' These expenses (for ventilation)
argue great unskilfulness in those who planned and constructed
the building.'

The chapel was licensed for all ecclesiastical purposes in
1828 by Bishop James of Calcutta.

After the retirement of Mr. Tucker the incumbency was
held by successive headmasters of the Bishop Corrie Grammar
School until the end of the century, when a native clergyman
was appointed, and the old congregation was dispersed. This
did not matter much, as the Holy Emmanuel Church is close

' Letters jrom Mndras (John Murray, 1843), p. 44.

- The use of the word half-caste by the authoress was the use of the period.
Nothing offensive was intended. Some years afterwards it was understood
to be offensive, and it dropped out of use.

^ Before Tucker's arrival it was known as Ridsdale's Chapel. Madrasiana,
p. 35.

* Despatch, July 23, 1828, 5, Eccl.


by ; and if there were any funds connected with work among
Eurasians or domiciled Em'opeans attached to the chapel, they
have doubtless been transferred, so as to be used still for their

The chapel underwent extensive repairs and improvements
in 1872 at a cost of about Ks.2700. In consideration of its
having been so much used by Europeans the Government
made a grant of Es.450 towards the expense.^

The chapel measures 100 x 50 feet, and there is sitting
accommodation for about 350 persons.

St. John's, Tellicherry. — Tellicherry is on the west coast
of India in the Malabar District. The East India Company
established a factory there in 1683 for the purpose of carrying
on the pepper trade. The site was given by the local Eajah, who
profited from the trade carried on. His own profit was so
great that in 1708 he built a fort for the protection of the
factory. Small grants of land were made to the Company
subsequently, so that they owned not only the fort but also the
land immediately round it.

The place was more easily reached by sea from Bombay
than from Madras. It was therefore governed from Bombay
in the eighteenth century, and the merchants employed were
on the Bombay establishment.

Existence at Tellicherry was comparatively peaceful until
the Mj^sore wars began. Hyder Ali sent an army to overrun the
district. This paralysed trade, so that in 1766 the establish-
ment of the factory was greatly reduced. In 1780 the fort was
besieged by the Mysore troops. It held out for two years and
was then relieved by the arrival of troops from Bombay. It
then became a military station of importance, as it was the
western base of military operations till the fall of the Mysore
power, and it retained its military importance till it was super-
seded by Cannanore, where a large cantonment was laid out
between 1805 and 1810. Its proximity to the French station
of Mahe prevented it from being denuded of troops altogether
until some time after the Peace of Paris in 1815. The troops
on the west coast after the conquest of Mysore belonged to the
Madras establishment. Consequently, when it was decided

1 G.O., Nov. 21, 1872, No. 220, Eccl.


to send Chaplains to Tellicherry and Cannanore, they also were
of the same establishment.

The first and only Chaplain sent to Tellicherry was the Eev.
Frederick Spring, who was posted to the station in 1816 and
remamcd in it till 1823. Wlien he arrived there was a small
garrison of Em'opeans and a number of civil administrators.
There was no Church. The IMilitary Board had not recom-
mended the building of one at Tellicherry, because they knew
the intention of the Government to transfer the European
troops to Cannanore. Mr. Spring does not appear to have
made any inquiry, but ho raised a little over Rs.lOOO among
the civil and military officers, advanced Rs.4000 himself, and
erected a building which measured 90 X 60 feet capable of
seating about 250 persons. When the building was finished
the Em'opcan troops were withdrawn, and he was left with a
congregation averaging 35 persons.

In 1820 he appealed to the Government of Fort St. George
to repay him the Es.4000 he had expended, and to build a wall
round the cemetery. The Government drew his attention to
the rule of 1818 forbidding the building of Churches without
previous permission, but they gave him credit for his good
intentions, paid him the Es.4000, and ordered a wall to be built
round the adjoining cemetery at a cost of Es.4771.i They then
wrote a full accomit of what had happened to the Directors.^

In their reply the Directors ^ acknowledged Mr. Spring's
purity of motive, but regarded his action as irregular and a
violation of their rules about the erection of Churches.*^' They
noticed the report of the Superintending Engineer that the
Chm'ch was built in an unsatisfactory way and ' would at no
distant date require material repair.' And they added : ' We
reluctantly accede to your having granted Mr. Spring Es.4000
on account of the expense ho incurred, and shall be displeased
if your orders are disregarded again.'

When Mr. Spring appealed to the Government in 1820

1 Consultations, July 25, 1820 ; Aug. IS, 1820 ; Aug. 2G, 1823, Eccl.

2 Letter, March 23, 1824, Eccl.

=' Despatch, Feb. 23, 1825, 8-11, Eccl.

^ There is no evidence as to when the Church was erected ; it may have
been built before the 1818 rule reached Tellicherry.


he mentioned that he had hoped to construct the Church
without the assistance of the Company's funds. If the station
had not been reduced, probably he would have been able to do
this. As it was the Church became the property of the Govern-
ment for four-fifths of its cost, the remaining fifth having been
raised locally.

When the Kev, James Hough was giving evidence before
the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1832 on the
affairs of the East India Company, he said : i ' At Tellicherry
there was a spacious Church, formerly a Chaplain, now none.
I was there in 1826. Europeans and Natives used to assemble
for worship. When it needed repair they appealed to Govern-
ment, and the Government ordered it to be pulled down.
Being on the spot I interposed and appealed to Government.
The request for repairs was acceded to.' This answer must be
assumed to be correct, even though some of his answers were

When the repairs were completed the Government trans-
ferred the building to the C.M.S., on condition that they sent
an English clergyman to minister to the Europeans at the
station.^ There is no evidence that the C.M.S. accepted the
offer. They had missionaries working among the English
and Eurasians at Cochin and at Madras, but they deprecated
their agents doing this kind of work. James Eidsdale of Madras
did it because he fomid a difficulty in acquiring the necessary
knowledge of Tamil to work among the native Indians.^' Prob-
ably Samuel Eidsdale of Cochin had a similar difficulty. The
Home Committee of the Society looked upon it as an inferior
undertaking for a missionary, and had high authority for
adopting that point of view. They wrote ■' to James Eidsdale :

' We rejoice that it pleases God to use you as an instrument
of good to any ; but never forget what the Apostle esteemed

' Question 1876.

' E.g. Questions 1880-81, relating to Cochin, and Question 1890, relating to

^ This was in May or June 1827. Letter from the Rev. J. Hallewell,
Secretary C.M.S. Committee, Madras, to the Rev. E. Bickersteth, Secretary
Home Committee, dated June 15, 1827.

^ C.M.S. Secretary's Letter to Madras, May 13, 1828.

' C.M.S. Secretary's Letter to Ridsdale, Oct. 31, 1829.


the highest office (Eom. xv. 20), nor the blessed and specia\
office to which you have been solemnly designated to minister
to the Gentiles that have not yet heard of Christ.'

Havmg these views it is hardly likely that they accepted the
offer of the Government. The Church gradually fell into
disrepair, and before the middle of the centmy it had become
a rmn.

From the year 1830 onward the station was visited i
regularly by the Chaplain of Cannanore ; but there was no one
living in the place of sufficient public spirit or religious inclina-
tion to save the building from ruin and decay.

In the year 1859 there died at Tellicherry an old resident
named Edward Brennen. He had been Master Attendant
or Port Officer. Perhaps he had qualms of conscience that he
had not tried to save the Church when it might have been
saved. By his will he left Es.4000 to the Governor m Council
for the building of a chapel on a site to be given by them, and
another Es.4000 as an endowment fund to provide for its up-
keep. He also left the Governor in Comicil Es.4000 to build
a school, and Es.8000 as its permanent endowment. He
nominated as trustees of the school and chapel the Chaplain of
Cannanore, the Judge of Tellicherry, the Collector of Malabar,
and the Superintendmg Surgeon of the District. These were
to be subject to the control of the Governor in Comicil, who were
to appoint future trustees, make necessary rules, and to use
the funds in pursuance of the true meaning and intent of the

There had been former experiences of the futility of erecting
cheap buildings. Prudence suggested that the amomit avail-
able was insufficient for the purpose, and it was agreed to let
the fund accumulate at compound interest and to add to it by
private subscriptions and donations. By the year 1867 the
trustees had to their credit for the Chmch :

Brennen's Fund Es.4000

Accrued interest on it . . . . 1200

Private subscriptions .... 900

Diocesan Church Building Society . . 300

> Despatch, March 14, 1832, Eccl.

2 There is a copy of the will at the India Office.


and they judged that the time had arrived for the plans and
estimates to be prepared. The Executive Engineer estimated
the cost of building at Es.7280. The Government was then
approached regarding the site, permission to build, and the
possibility of financial help. All that was asked for was
willingly given. The site is that of the old Church : no spot
could have been more appropriate ; it is on a cliff which was
originally part of the old fort, adjoining the ancient garrison
burial-ground where the remains of so many British soldiers
and civilians rest.

The Government midertook to provide the Es.780 which
was required to complete the building,! and further subscrip-
tions were at once sought to fui'nish it for its sacred purpose.
His Excellency the Governor, the Eight Hon. Lord Napier, gave
Es.lOO to the fund to show his personal interest in the matter.
The list of subscribers recalls the names of some well-known
Churchmen who helped locally to bring the project to a
successful conclusion :

G. A. Ballard, Esq. .Es.200 Mr. Pereira

A. W. Sullivan, Esq. . 150

J. H. Garstin, Esq. . 100

F. C. Brown, Esq. . 100

The Eev. C. H. Deane 50
The Lord Bishop of

Madras . . 150

T. B. Bassano, Esq. . 80

Mr. Thompson .
Captain Baudry
C. Hanyngton, Esq.
F. Lewell, Esq.
Lieut. F. Hole .
W. Logan, Esq.








On November 16, 1866, the foundation-stone was laid by
Lord Napier himself with a silver trowel presented to him on
the occasion. There were present three of the official trustees
nominated by the fomider, namely the Judge (A. W. Sullivan),
the Collector (G. A. Ballard), and the Chaplain of Cannanore
(C. H. Deane), and of course the whole European population
of the station; including the architect, Captain Bailey. The
building was used for the first time on January 28, 1868, when
the Eev. C. H. Deane officiated and the German missionary
read the lessons ; and it was duly consecrated by the Bishop of

1 G.O., Sept. 16, 1867, No. 2862, Works ; G.O., Sept. 23, 1867, No. 227, Eccl.


Madras on October 22, 1868, and named in honour of St. John
the EvangeHst.

The east window is of stained glass with a geometrical
pattern, and is a memorial of the fomider, who is described on
it as a native of London, aged 75 at the time of his death.
There is also a tablet to his memory on which he is described as
' the fomider of this Church and of Brennen's Free School ;
a generous true-heartod Englishman.' He was bmied in the
adjoinmg cemetery ; on his tombstone it is recorded that
* he was one of God's noblest works in India, a sterling upright
Englishman.' The cemetery contains the remains of some
well-known persons connected with the history of the south of
India, such as Disney, Clephane, Cheape, Baber, Warden, and
Mm'doch Brown ; and the Judge who was present at the laying
of the foundation-stone of the Church in 1867, Mr. A. W.
Sullivan, was himself laid to rest in it hi August 1868.



Bishop Middleton and discipline. His inquiry about the Consistorial Court.
Talk in Madras. Claim of the judges. Upheld by Directors. Bishop
Heber and Archdeacon Robinson and discipline. The Court set up. Chap-
lains and Commanding Officers. The ruHng of the Directors. Probable
intention of Heber and Robinson. The Wissing case. The Rosen case.

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 24 of 39)