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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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visit of Archdeacon Eobinson in 1829 the Government altered
the Mess House and furnished it as a chapel for the community. i
The Archdeacon, acting as Commissary for the Bishop of
Calcutta, licensed it for all ecclesiastical purposes on June 14,

The building measured 58 X 36 x 14 feet, and accommodated
150 persons. 2 According to the inspection report of Archdeacon
Eobinson, there were in 1829 one hundred Eurasian children in
the local school.^ The chapel was not therefore any larger than
was required. It was placed in the charge of the Poonamallee
Chaplain, who had to visit the station periodically. The first
Chaplain was the Kev. F. Spring, whose ' judicious work ' was
praised by the Archdeacon.

A Church of England mission was commenced in the
station before the Government built quarters for the cadets.
This was originated by the Eev. W. Sawyer, an energetic
missionary of the C.M.S., who built a small chapel for the
Christian Tamil wives of the pensioners in 1824. It measured
only 33 x 12x10 feet and accommodated seventy-two persons."*
The mission was given up soon after 1855, when the local
Government was recommended by the Directors not to encourage
European pensioners to settle in Tripassore."'

As long as the pensioners and their descendants were in the
place the Government kept the old Mess House in good repair
as a chapel, and ordered the Poonamallee Chaplain to pay
regular visits to the station. Extensive repairs and alterations

1 Consultations, Aug. 25, 1829, Nos. 5, 6, Eccl. The cost of the alteration
was Rs.1987.

- Official Return of Churches, 1852.
^ Archdeacon's Records.
•* Official Return of Churches, 1852.

^ Letter, Dec. 30, 1854, 15-19, Eccl. ; Despatch, Aug. 29, 1855, 47, Eccl.
VOL. n. xj


were made in 1847 and in 1862.^ But the Eurasian population
gradually dwindled, till in the year 1897 there were only
four elderly women left. In the meanwhile the L.M.S. had
taken up the work dropped by the C.M.S., and sent a native
agent to reside and take charge of it. Two of the four women
attended the ministrations of the L.M.S. agent and were
satisfied with them. Under these circumstances the visiting
Chaplam of Poonamallee recommended that the station should
he given up and the building made over to the L.M.S. for their
use until again required. This was done.^ Times and circum-
stances change. Tripassore is at the present time of so little
importance that it is not even mentioned in the Iviperial

St. Thomas', Quilon. — Quilon has with other places on the
Malabar coast an ancient Christian connection and history.
It is referred to in authenticated documents of the seventh
century as ' the most southern point of Christian influence.'
It is the Coilum of Marco Polo. The Portuguese established
their influence here at the end of the fifteenth century. They
were displaced by the Dutch East India Company in 1662 ;
and the British influence of the English East India Company
commenced in 1789. The Maharajah of Travancore, in whose
territory Quilon is situated, was in that year threatened
with invasion by Tippoo Sahib of Mysore. He therefore
entered into a treaty with the Government of Fort St. George,
and agreed to maintain a subsidiary force of British troops ^
at Quilon for the defence of his country. At the same time
a British political officer, called the Eesident, was appointed
to guide the external policy of the Maharajah's Government.
The State of Travancore was successfully defended against
aggression during the life of Tippoo. After his death and defeat
the Travancoreans seem to have thought that a subsidiary
force of British troops at Quilon was no longer necessary, and
the subsidy fell into arrears. At the end of the year 1808 the
Resident, Lieut. -Colonel Macaulay, took certain measures, and

> Consultations, July 29, 1845 and April 13, 1847, Eccl. ; G.O., Oct. 11,
1862, No. 300, Eccl.

■ CO., June 7, 1898, No. 03, Eccl.

' This term includes the sepoys of the^Company's'native regiments.


a widespread rebellion against the British occupation of Quilon
was at once unmasked. After some hard fighting i the Eajah
submitted, and paid the arrears of the subsidy and the expenses
of the war.

The result of this rebellion against the East India Company's
policy was that the Quilon cantonment was enlarged and tem-
porary barracks built to accommodate a regiment of Europeans
and a battery of European artillery. The European infantry
garrisoned Quilon until 1817, when their services were required
in the Mahratta country.

The policy of appointing Chaplains to minister to British
troops originated in 1795, but it only applied to European
troops. The European officers of native corps were not
supposed to need such ministrations. Consequently there was
no intention or application or even suggestion of sending a
Chaplain to Quilon between 1789 and 1809. After this latter
date there was a desire among the officers and the men both for
a Chaplain and a Church. The only Chaplain on the Malabar
coast at the time was in charge of the garrisons at Tellicherry,
Cannanore, and Mangalore. In the year 1812 he was ordered to
visit Quilon.2 The necessity of appointing a Chaplain was in
this way ascertained, and Quilon was mentioned as a place where
one ought to be sent when the local Government asked for an
increase of Chaplains.-^ In the early part of 1814 the Eev.
James Hutchison arrived at Fort St. George and was at once
posted to Quilon, and there he remained till 1821.

The year before his arrival the Political Eesident in Travan-
core, Lieut.-Colonel John Munro, recommended the erection
of a chapel, but the Military Board were not in favour of this,
because it was intended to withdraw the regiment of European
infantry from the station.* The Directors, however, recom-
mended that one should be built.

In 1816 the Bishop of Calcutta visited Quilon. He also
recommended that a Church should be built.^ The Government

1 Wilson's History of the Madras Army.

2 Letter, Oct. 17, 1812, lf)5-66, Mil. ; Despatch, Nov. 3, 1815, 129, Mil.

3 Despatch, April 29, 1814, 5, Public.

" Letter, Dec. 31, 1813, 236-38, Mil. ; Despatch, June 12, 1816, 131-34

» Letter, Sept. 26, 1816, 107, Public.

V 2


informed the Directors, who wrote in reply that the recom-
mendation had been forestalled by themselves. They said : i ' In
para. 153 of Despatch dated 11 Jan. 1809, Public, we authorised
the building of chapels at all permanent military stations to
which a Chaplain is attached,' &c. ' We do not therefore
understand why a chapel has not been built at Quilon.' And
they added : ' In considering how far it may be advisable to
erect Churches upon the territories of our alhes, or in situations
where the residence of our troops cannot be considered as
permanent, it may be a question whether the consecration of a
Church upon ground over which the laws of England have no
control may not at some future period be productive of em-
barrassing consequences.' This was the whole difficulty with
the local Government. At the time this despatch was being
written, trouble was brewing in the Mahratta country ; the
European regiment was soon afterwards removed from Quilon,
and the Government shelved the question of building a Church.

At this time Colonel Welsh was stationed at Quilon. He
says that the cantonment was extensive ; that it included
temporary barracks for a thousand British infantry, three
native corps, and a hundred European artillerymen.^ He
regretted that there was no Church ; ' this privation is the
more felt from the proximity to several large Roman Catholic

Colonel Welsh praised the scenery and said that the Resi-
dency was in one of the loveliest spots in the world. In 1824
he was appointed to command the Quilon garrison, which
consisted of three regiments of Madras infantry and a company
of Madras artiller3\ There was no longer any need for European
infantry. Colonel Newall was the Resident. Both he and
Colonel Welsh agreed that a Church ought to bo built, and the
need was represented to the Madras Government. Estimates
were prepared by the Military Board in 1825 ; the lower one
amounted to Rs. 12,000 ; it was not sanctioned, because of the
uncertainty of the continuance of so large a force at the station,
and the Directors approved of the decision arrived at.^

' Despatcli, Oct. 22, 1817. 20, 28, 30, Eccl.

- Welsh's Reminiscences, ii. 100.

- Letter, April 29, 1825, 49, Political ; Despatch, July 23, 1828, 23, Eccl.






















The Resident was however persistent, and in 1827 fresh
plans and estimates were prepared. i These were sanctioned,^
and the building was soon afterwards commenced. According
to the 1852 Official Eeturn the size of the building was
62 X 34 X 17 feet ; this included the sanctuary and two
vestries. The estimated cost was Es.7769 for the building
and Rs.l327 for the furniture, but the estimate was exceeded
by nearly Rs.800. Lieutenant Green of the Madras Engineers
was the designer and builder ; the accommodation was for
150 persons. Archdeacon Robinson arrived at Quilon on his
tour of inspection in January 1829. Li his report to the
Government he said that the design reflected great credit on
Lieutenant Green, but that the Church was small and would
only acconniiodate a hundred persons.^ The Directors called
for a report on this point and on that of cost. The Govern-
ment sent all the documents, and the Directors were satisfied.^
The building was solemnly dedicated to God, and conse-
crated by Bishop Spencer of Madras on St. Thomas' Day, 1840,
and was named in honour of that Apostle.

Between 1814 and 1864 various causes combined to reduce
the importance of Quilon. The European infantry were re-
moved in 1817 ; the Maharani set up her court at Trevandrum
about 1820 ; two of the native regiments were taken away
later on, and when the Resident removed his headquarters to
Trevandrum, there were few Europeans left in the place to
minister to. Up to that time Trevandrum was the out-station
of Quilon. After all these changes Quilon became the out-
station of Trevandrum. The Rev. S. T. Pettigrew, who visited
Quilon from Trevandrum in the years 1874-77, speaks '" of the
departed splendour of the old Residency, the natural beauty
of its position, and the interesting character of the old
engravings on the walls within it.

Like all other Churches held in trust by the Government the

' Consultations, Nov. 23, 1827, Political.
- Consultations, June 20, 1828, 1, 2, Eccl.

3 Letter, Jan. 4, 1833, 2, Eccl. ; Despatch, May 21, 1834, 4, 5, Eccl.
•* Without reckoning the sanctuary and the vestries the floor space of the
Church is 166 sq. yds.

■' Episodes in the Life of an Indian Chaplai7i.


building has always been kept in good repair. The porch had
to be reconstructed in 1871, and extensive restorations were
carried out ten years later. The burial-ground, where so many
soldiers of the 12th and 69th regiments rest, was fenced in 1837,
and has been well kept since. Sometimes the officers of the
native regiment at Quilon have taken a deep interest in the
Church. In 1898 the officers subscribed money to put in a
coloured glass window and to tile the sanctuary floor. At
about the same time Colonel Lowry presented the Church with a
handsome carved teak wood altar rail.

The first Chaplain of Quilon was the Rev. James Hutchi-
son. After ministering seven years the Commanding Officer
complained ' that his discourses were not calculated to improve
the morals of his hearers.' There is nothing on the records to
show the nature of the complaint. The Government of Fort
St. George read between the lines that there was friction between
the Chaplain and the Commanding Officer. They therefore
gazetted Dr. Hutchison to another station,^ and left Quilon
without a Chaplain for a period.

The Rev. Frederick Spring was the Chaplain who saw
the building and the consecration of the Church. The Rev.
R. W. Whitford, an eccentric man who was full of the
missionary spirit, established a native mission in Quilon in
1842. This was superintended by successive Chaplains, but was
nearly broken up in 1863 when Trevandrum was made their
headquarters. One of the Chaplains established a free school
for Eurasians, but it cannot be ascertained whether this was
done by Dr. Hutchison or his successor, Christopher Jeaffreson.
The Rev. R. W. Whitford was dismissed the Company's service ^
in 1848 for insubordination to the Bishop. Among other things
he unjustifiably detained for over three and a half years the
funds of the Quilon Free School after his transfer. Among
other Chaplains of Quilon there were Vincent Shortland, who
estabhshed the native Church mission at Trevandrum ; G. B.
Howard, who pubhshed reliable information on the Syrian
Christians and their Liturgies ; and S. T. Pettigrew, who
published his reminiscences as a Chaplain.

1 Letter, July 0, 1821, EccL ; Despatch, July 28, 1821, Gl, l^ccl.
- Despatch, Sept. 20, 1848, Eccl.


Both Quilon and Trevandrum are now in the diocese of

Trinity Church, John Pereiras. — From the missionary point
of view the spot known as John Pereiras is one of the most
interesting in Madras. It was purchased in 1729 together with a
house standing on it by Schultze/ one of the first of the German
missionaries in the employ of the S.P.C.K. The house was
destroyed during the occupation of Madras by the French in
1746-49, but the site remained the property of the Vepery
Mission." From this date until 1828 the site was used as a
garden and burial-ground for native Christians ; but a certain
number of native Christians had ' squatted ' on the property and
erected small dwellings on it. In the year 1818 the Madras
District Committee of the S.P.C.K. made a list of the Society's
property in Madras,'^ and included the ' Mission burying-
ground at John Pereiras, around which are some houses built
on it by Christians.' In 1826 the squatters resisted the measure-
ment of the ground * by the Collector of Madras, who was
proceeding at the request of the S.P.C.K. Committee. There
is no doubt that the property belonged to the S.P.C.K. from
1729 to 1826.

At the latter date the Eev, J. Kidsdale had begun his
ministrations among the John Pereiras community. Neither
the S.P.C.K. nor the S.P.G. had men for the purpose. In the
absence of documents it must be assumed that the S.P.C.K.
Madras Committee had no title-deeds to prove their ownership.
In 1828 Eidsdale purchased the ground from a builder in
Black Town, Mr. Stringer, who had appropriated it, and built
a chapel upon it.

Eidsdale was a zealous missionary, well known and trusted
not only by his own Society, but also by the Archdeacon and
other Churchmen of the Presidency town. He raised the money
to build the chapel, which cost over Es.6000, but came to the
end of his resources before the furnishing of it could be finished.
In this dilemma he appealed to the trustees of St. George's
Church, who were then renewing some of their furniture. The
Archdeacon proposed that the old furniture should be given to

> The Church in Madras, i. 195. ^ W. Tajdor's Memoir, jjp. 11, 13, 17.
3 Hid. p. 165. •* Hid. p. 334.


him. The trustees said that there was none to be removed
that would be of any use, and suggested that a Government
grant of Es.oOO would be more acceptable. The Government
therefore gave a donation of Es.oOO. When they wrote to the
Directors ^ they explained that it was on account of a small
chapel, ' the shell of which has been completed in the midst of
a large population of the poorest class, who have raised a sub-
scription for it exceeding Es.6000, but seats and furniture were
required for litting it up for pubHc worship, and the people
had no funds for the purpose. We therefore authorised,' &c.
And the Directors sanctioned the grant.

Mr. Eidsdale built the chapel for the use of the Eurasians
as well as the native Indian Christians of the district, and it
has been regularly used for this twofold purpose up to the
present time. In consideration of this the Government assisted
with a grant of Es.400 the repair of the chapel in 1871.^

After Mr. Eidsdalc's death the building was put into trust
for the C.M.S., and is now held by the Church Missionary Trust
Association. It has not been consecrated, nor officially named,
but it is generally known as Trinity Church. It was licensed in
1833 by Archdeacon Eobinson, as Commissary of the Bishop
of Calcutta, for all ecclesiastical purposes.

Between 1816 and 1833 both the C.M.S. and the S.P.G. had
reason to be thankful to the Directors and the Government of
Fort St. George for their HberaHty and goodwill. The former
Society had a handsome Church built for them in Black Town,
and received assistance for the John Pereiras chapel. The
latter Society were greatly helped in the building of the new
Vepery Church, and in the extensive repairs of the buildings at
Trichinopoly and Cuddalore.

1 Letter, Jan. 18, 1833, 7, Eccl. ; Despatch, Dec. 4, 1833, 10, Eccl.
' 0.0. , Dec. 8, 1871, No. 211, Eccl.



Settlement of the country. Increase of stations and Chaplains. Building of
Churches. The Christians of India. Buchanan's and Kerr's researches.
Rules for Chaplains. Marriages by civil, military and naval officers. Com-
fort of British soldiers in India. Bishop Middleton's libraries. Soldiers'
libraries suggested by the Governor-General. The views of the Commander-
in-Chief of the Madras army. The books. Building of fives courts, racquet
courts, and swimming baths. Native education and the Company. Bengal
follows the lead of the Madras Government. Grants to missionary schools
for their secular work. Definition of the term 'native.' Europeans and
Eurasians born in the country excluded. The advantage and disadvantage
of this to the latter.

The more important ecclesiastical events and changes have
been recorded. But this record would not be complete without
mentioning some of the less important events and the causes
which led to them.

Ecclesiastical changes during the whole history of the rule
of the East India Company waited upon political changes.
Up to the end of the eighteenth century the Company's inter-
ests — civil, miHtary, mercantile, and religious — were small
compared with those which arose after its completion. The
difference was due to the defeat and the extinction of the power
of the native State of Mysore.

As soon as this great and ever-threatening power was
reduced there were vast political and social changes throughout
the peninsula. There was no longer any necessity to keep
British troops within the walls of forts and towns, or encamped
under their guns. With the exception of Cochin and Travan-
core the whole of South India came under the rule of the
Government of Fort St. George. This necessitated the increase
of the civil and mihtary establishments, the division of the


country into districts, the formation of new military centres,
the building of barracks and military hospitals, and the erection
of Court houses and jails for the proper administration of justice.

By the year 1807 the Madras army was distributed through-
out the southern Presidency in three divisions : the northern,
centre, and southern. Within these commands there were
brigades and smaller garrisons : at many different places, and a
subsidiary force at Secunderabad.^ The chief town of each
new district was fixed upon as the headquarters of the revenue,
judicial, and other civil officials. Owing to these causes a
large number of separate communities of Europeans were
created, some civil, some military, and some both.

In certain circles in England, known then as ' the religious
world,' a considerable amount of curiosity had arisen as to the
histor}^ and condition of existing Christian bodies in India.
The Directors wrote to the Bengal Government in 1798,^ and
sent a copy of their letter to the Madras Government in June
1800, suggesting the advisability of making inquiries on the
subject. The time was inopportune for both Governments, and
it was not till 1806 that they were able to act on the suggestion.
In that year the Bengal Government deputed ^ the Rev. Claudius
Buchanan ' to investigate the state of superstition at the
most celebrated temples of the Hindus ; to examine the Churches
and libraries of the Eomish, Syrian, and Protestant Christians ;
to ascertain the present state and recent history of the Eastern
Jews ; to discover what persons might be fit instruments for
the promotion of learning in their respective countries and for
maintaining a future correspondence on the subject of dis-
seminating the scriptures in India.'

Buchanan left Calcutta in May 1806. Before he reached
Madras the Governor of Fort St. George, who had received from
the Directors in 1803 a suggestion to acquire some facts relating
to the history of Christianity in India, wrote a minute on the
subject and submitted it to his Council.^ He pointed out that
the British Government allowed universal toleration of all

' H.H. the Nizam conferred this name on the cantonments of the subsidiary
force. Letter, Oct. 21, 1807, Political.

2 Despatch to Bengal, May 25, 1798, Public.
•'' The Bengal Government paid all expenses.
■* Comultalions, Juno 27, 180G.


religions. ' We seem called upon in the strongest manner to
take under our particular charge the whole Catholic Church
of Christ.' ' The differences between Christians arc trifling
compared with the differences between Cliristians, Hindus and
Mahomedans.' ' Their adherence to this or that Church is
a point in my opinion of secondary consideration.' ' All
Christians should mutually support and befriend each other.'
He then proposed that the Rev. Dr. Kerr — at that time in
Mysore on leave — should report to Government the history and
state of Christianity on the Malabar coast. This was agreed
to, and the following letter was sent to him :

' Reverend Sir, — The Rt. Hon. the Governor in Council,
being desirous of availing himself of your vicinity to the Malabar
Coast to obtain every possible information in regard to the
establishment &c. of the Christian religion in that part of the
peninsula ; I am directed by his Lordship in Council to desire
that as soon as the state of your health and the season will
permit, you will proceed to the provinces on that coast ; and
that you will forward to me for the information of Government
such accounts as you may be able to collect of the lirst intro-
duction of Christianity into India, of the arrival of the different
sects who have been or may be in existence, of their general
history, of the persecutions to which they may have been
exposed, of their success in making proselytes, of their Church
establishments, of the source from which they are maintained,
with all other circumstances connected with this important
subject.' ' G. C. Keble,

Sec. to Gov.'

Dr. Kerr was in bad health. No evidence has been found
that he proceeded to the west coast. But he submitted a
report on November 4, 1806, and this was entered in the
Council's Consultation Book three days later. In this report
he gave the history of early Christianity in India, of the St.
Thome or Jacobite Christians, of the Syrian Roman Catholics,
and of the Latin Roman Catholics, quoting from La Croze's
' History of Christianity in India,' ^ and he concluded with some

^ This book was published in 1724 at the Hague to expose the high-handed
action of the Roman Catholics against the Syrian Malabar Christians, especially
through the Synod of Diamper, 1599. The author was Librarian to the King
of Prussia.


general observations.^ The report was sent home to the
Directors in March 1807. In their reply they said that it did
credit to the zeal and ability of Dr. Kerr, and added : ' We must
not be understood to concur in every opinion and suggestion
to be found in his pages.' -

The determination of the two Governments of Bengal and
Madras to make the investigation was arrived at almost simul-
taneously. It was probably due to a little pressure brought
to bear on the Court of Directors by the Bishop of London.

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 27 of 39)