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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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subscribing officers. The obligation to join the fund was
one of the provisions of the covenant entered into by the

1 Despatch, Jime 9, 1824, 2, Military.



Chaplains when they joined the Service. It exists at the
present day, and is known as the Indian Service Family
Pension Fund.

From the Church point of view the most important of all
the questions which came to the front during this period were
the civil and political disabilities of the native Christians.
There was no intention on the part of the Directors or the
Government of Fort St. George to place them under any dis-
abilities whatever. The disabilities grew up with the changed
circumstances of the converts. As Hindus they were parts of a
system which embraced every relationship of life. When they
gave up Hinduism as a religion, they probably thought
that they would still be subject to Hinduism as a legal, social
and political system. Nothing is recorded by the Roman
Catholic missionaries of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, nor by the Lutheran missionaries in the service of
the English S.P.C.K. in the seventeenth century, to explain
why they deliberately kept up the system of caste among their
converts. But when the social and political disabilities, under
which their converts would have suffered if they had not
maintained the system, are taken into consideration, it seems
probable that they were choosing the lesser of two evils as a
temporary expedient, so as not to subject their caste converts
to too great a strain.

The arrival of many new missionaries in the first and second
decade of the nineteenth century brought the matter to a
climax. They could only look at it from the religious point
of view. They saw a number of native Christians holding
themselves aloof from their fellow Christians, refusing not only
to drink from the same Cup of Blessing, and to take their
places beside them as fellow worshippers in the House of God,
but refusing also to have any social dealings with them. The
old missionaries did not consider it part of their duty to interfere
with the political and social affairs of the people. They were
simply preaching the gospel, and persuading as many as
possible of every grade of society to acknowledge Christ. As
to the social habits of the people, if they did not conform
with the Christian standard, they would in course of time,
when the Christian standard was better understood, and


they left all political questions, including law and status,
severely alone.

In the year 1807 the agents of the L.M.S. sent home
to their employers a report, m which they severely criticised
the system hitherto pursued. It was issued as a pamphlet by
the Society for the benelit of subscribers. The following year
it reached Madras, and was received by the old missionaries
TN-ith some indignation. Kohlhoff and Horst, then stationed
at Tanjore, addressed the following letter to the London
S.P.C.K. : 1

' Averse as we are to altercations of every kind, we think
it incumbent on us to advert to some late animadversions
injurious to our character, and especially to that of our respect-
able predecessor,^ whose memory we justly revere, and to tread
in whose steps will ever be our endeavour and our glory. In
a pamphlet, called the " Transactions of the Missionary Society,
No. 15," there are several sentiments which to us seem to be
dictated by prejudice. To charge all protestant missionaries
who went before Messieurs Cran and Desgranges (nearly fifty in
the first mission centur}') as deviating from the Scriptures,
because they allowed the caste, — i.e. the differences between
nobility, gentry, and common people, — to subsist, appears to
us highly uncharitable ; and to say that if they were to tolerate
the difference of caste, they would soon have wonderful accounts
to transmit of their success (which none of all the missionaries
before Mr. Gericke was able to do) betrays a deal of self-conceit
and want of humility.'

After referring to several accusations made by the writers
of the report against the S.P.C.K. missionaries and the Chaplains,
Messieurs Kohlhoft' and Horst defended their conduct with
regard to their teaching the various grades of society m India
separately, and allowing the native Christians to maintain their
own social customs, and concluded thus :

' We do not feel ourselves warranted to require of the
higher ranks such an unscriptural surrender of their birthright,
to which no nobleman or gentleman in our own country would

This defence of the S.P.C.K. agents shows how they regarded

' S.P.C.K. Report for 1809. - C F. Schwartz.


the question. Their converts and those of their predecessors
were mostly of the Sudra castes, i.e. the middle-class population
of the country — tradesmen and cultivators. Their conver-
sion to Christianity was not an act which by itself would cause
them to be put out of caste by their fellow caste people. In order
to be thus expelled it was necessary for them to break the caste
rules in some definite social way. As long as these were not
broken the converts retained their caste membership with all
its social privileges and rights of marriage, succession, and

The contention of the new men ultimately prevailed.
Bishop Middleton made no effort to stop it. He regarded the
system entirely from the religious standpoint. Bishop Heber
favoured the social view of the old S.P.C.K. missionaries.
Bishop Wilson took a most decided line of condemnation.
Between 1807 and 1827 the authorities and the missionaries
of the Church had decided to oppose all caste practices among
the native Christians, and to try and stamp them out as an evil
in the mission field. At first they obliged the converts to
perform some action which would definitely result in their
being degraded from their caste ; but in later years this senseless
policy was discontinued. The result was that nearly all our
Christians became outcasted. Some who would not lose their
caste standing and social rights became Roman Catholics and
Lutherans. Some reverted to Hinduism. The Church of
England lost an immense number of adherents. As to those
who remained their name of Christian became synonymous
with outcaste, and they suffered most of the civil disal)ilities
of the lowest native classes.

In the year 1829 the native Christians, many of whom
were educated men of good social descent and standing, peti-
tioned the Governor- General in Council on the subject. The
missionaries ^ of the S.P.C.K. sent to the Society in London
their remarks,^ when appealing for more helpers. The Governor-
General sent the petition to the Directors in 1830, and there can
be no doubt that they conferred with the members of the East

^ KohlhofE and Haubroe of Tanjoi'e, Rottler and Irion of Madras, Rosen of
Cuddalore, and Schrej'vogel of Trichinopoly.
- S.P.C.K. Report far 1829, pp. 219-21.


Lidia Committee of the Society. In their reply i the Directors
called the attention of the Governor- General in Council to the
fact that in the northern Presidency native Christians were
excluded from the posts of moonsif, vakil, and other legal
appointments ; that in the southern Presidency they were
excluded from the post of Sudder Ameen, refused enlistment
in the cavalry, and debarred promotion in the infantry, in
common with the lowest and most degraded class of persons.
They then explained that the ' neutrality which we think it
our duty to observe does not require that converts to Christian-
ity should be placed by law in a less advantageous situation
than other persons,' and that ' no disabihties should exist by
regulation on account of religious belief.' They directed that
native Christians should be appointed moonsifs or vakils if
ciualified, in the discretion of the person who nominated to
those appointments ; and that they should not be excluded
from non-commissioned rank if fitted to hold it, and if the
commanding officer wished to promote them on account of
merit. They also called upon the Government to report on the
allegation of the loss of property, status, and civil rights on
conversion to Christianity, and to suggest measures of relief.

Neither the Directors nor the local Governments of Bengal,
Madras, and Bombay were parties to the injustice which
existed. When the Government of Madras took over the
administration of the country in the south after the fall of
Seringapatam, they did not make new laws nor transfer to the
new country the laws of their own. They found laws existing
about propert}^ succession, marriage, &c., which the people
well understood and with which they were satisfied. These
were Hindu laws mostly, and the Company's Magistrates and
Judges set to work to administer them to the best of their
ability. Religious questions did not come before them. They
left them for the consideration of the native caste courts and
councils. The Magistrates were satisfied if justice was done
according to native caste rules in these courts. The native
Christian was forgotten, not intentionallj^ l)ut accidentally,

' Despatch to Fort William, Feb. 2, 1831, Public. Also printed in the
Appendix to the Report of the House of Commons Committee on the East
India Company .'i Affairs, 1830-32, vol, viii.


and principally because he was in such a small minority. At
the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century native
Christians had grown in numbers and in educational im-
portance. Their cause was adopted by the missionaries and by
the Bishop of Calcutta. The time had arrived for the proper
consideration of their claims, and the Directors did what was
right and just in ordering the removal of their disabilities.
Even now they labour under some disadvantages in some
country districts and in some native States. But one by one
their disadvantages have been removed, and are still being
removed when necessary.^

It is very well known now, though it was not so well known
at the time, that the early Bishops of Calcutta were over-
weighted by the work which they were appointed to do. It
was a great triumph to have obtained the appointment of a
Bishop, and to have secured his support by the wealthy East
India Company. They who specially worked for this end were
so far satisfied with their endeavours that they failed to reahse
that they had been instrumental in giving a man a work far
beyond a man's strength. Bishop Middleton arrived in 1815.
He died in 1822. The next nine years saw the arrival and
death of three of his successors. It was manifest to Bishop
Turner, the fourth occupant of the See, that the labour of the
office should be divided, and he wrote to the Governor-General
in Council on the subject.^^ His proposal was that India should

' It is an open question whetlier the delay in doing them justice has not
been partly due to the well-intentioned action of the missionaries in compelling
their converts to sacrifice their caste — i.e. to give up their social position among
their countrymen — on their conversion. By following this drastic policy
the missionaries seem to have made their own task more difficult. The early
missionaries in Europe were very patient of native customs and habits. They
had time and the operation of the Holy Spirit on their side. Is it not possible
that more patience is required in deaUng ^\ith the law and practice of caste
in the present day ? Bishop Heber of Calcutta and Bishop Gell of Madras
would have said yes. Some caste practices are in direct opposition to the
teaching of the New Testament ; some are not. There is reason to suppose
that among Christians the unchristian practices would gradually be modified and
dropped in course of time. A policy of patience would seem to be more in
accordance with the mind of Christ than one of uprooting and destruction.

- Letter dated Sept. 26, 1830 ; printed in the Report of the House of
Commons Committee, Appendix, 1830-32, vol. viii. East India Company's


be divided iuto two dioceses, Calcutta and Madras, the latter
diocese to include the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay.
The Diocese of Calcutta at that time included the eastern
colonial possessions of the Crown, the Cape of Good Hope,
Mauritius, Ceylon, and the colonised portions of Australia.
His suggestion was that these should be under the superin-
tendence of the two Indian Bishops, and should be visited once
in three years by one of them.

Earlier in the year the Bengal Civil Finance Committee
reported to the Governor-General in Council, and proposed the
reduction of the Madras establishment of Chaplains from
twenty-three to nineteen for the sake of economy. This
proposal was submitted by the Bengal Government to the
Bishop of Calcutta, who gave a dignified reply against false
economy, and the proposal was dropped.^

This Bishop's proposal was sent home to the Directors.
At the same time Bishop Turner sent a similar letter to the
S.P.C.K. and the S.P.G. in London. This enabled the project
to be discussed by tln-ee different sets of interested persons.
When the House of Commons appointed a select committee
to consider the affairs of the East India Company in 1832,
evidence was taken of the ecclesiastical as well as of other
needs of Lidia, and special inquiries were made in connection
with Bishop Turner's suggestion.

Among those who gave evidence was Mr. John Sullivan, the
originator of English schools for natives,"- and the friend of
Christian Schwartz. He was altogether in favour of an increase
of Chaplains and Church buildings, and was of opinion that
one Bishop for India and the East was not sufficient. He
referred to a correspondence between the Directors and the
S.P.G. on the increase of the Episcopate, and said that the
authorities were not unwilling to increase the number, but had
a difficulty about the funds.

The Rev. James Hough gave some valuable testimony to
the increase of Christians among the Sudra and out-caste
population in the south. He mentioned 23,000 as the number

' House of Commons Committee, on Affairs of the Ead India Company,
Appendix P to Report, vol. viii. p. 781.
- See The Church in Madras, i. 518-19.


of Christians under the care of the S.P.C.K. and the C.M.S.
when he left Tinnevelly in 1821. In his opinion more Chap-
lains were required ; and he went beyond the modest demand of
Bishop Turner by pleadmg for three Bishops in India and one
in Ceylon. He did this on the ground that each former increase
in the ecclesiastical establishment had produced a marked
effect on the conduct of the Company's servants, to whom the
ministrations of religion had been a welcome boon. He gave
a remarkable instance of the special respect paid by the natives
to those of the Company's servants who paid attention to their
religious duties.

Others gave similar evidence of the advantage which must
result from having a well-superintended religious establish-
ment. Captain Henry Harkness of the Company's Military
Establishment, who travelled with Bishop Heber as com-
mandant of the escort and was with him at his death, expressed
a favourable opinion of the many thousand native Christians
he had then seen, and gave evidence of the need of increasing
the staff of Chaplains for the benefit of the Europeans in the
country, and of appointing more Bishops for the exercise of
their special functions.

The facts elicited by the Committee enabled the Cabinet
to form an opinion of what was required. Mr, Charles Grant ^
was in charge of a measure of relief. In June 1832 he wrote a
minute for the information of his colleagues in the Cabinet.^
He requested their ' immediate attention to a subject of great
importance and public interest, the necessity of giving some
assistance to the Bishop of Calcutta by the appointment of
subordinate Bishops at Madras and Bombay.' He urged that :

(1) Since the death of Bishop Heber the matter had been
pressed upon the Board of Control by the S.P.C.K., the S.P.G.,
and the C.M.S. ; and that the resolutions of the S.P.C.K. (the
Archbishop of Canterbury presiding) had been sent to the
President of the Board of Control and to the First Lord of
the Treasury.

(2) Their opinion was that no person was physically strong

^ The son of Charles Grant, the Bengal civilian, who was afterwards
Chairman of the Board of Directors.

^ India Office Records, Home Series, Miscellaneous, vol. 59.


enough to undertake so great a charge as the whole of India,
and that this opinion was concurred in generally by a large and
influential portion of the public.

(3) They drew attention to the attempts of Bishops Middle-
ton, Heber, James, and Turner to cope with the difficulties ;
and noted that, owing to their premature deaths, six j-ears of
supervision had been lost since the death of Bishop Middleton
in 1822.

(■i) Li addition to the Company's Chaplains there were
twenty-eight missionaries in Holy Orders, but that it was not
the number of clergy so much as the distances which made the
work impossible for one man.

(5) Feeling it imperative to suggest an arrangement of
relief, he had been in communication Avith the Archbishop of
Canterbury and the Bishop of London. He proposed that :

(6) the Archdeaconries of Madras and Bombay should be
abolished, and that in lieu of them Suffragan or Assistant
Bishops should be appointed on salaries exceeding only by
£500 each the present pay of the Archdeacons.

(7) The Senior Chaplains at Madras and Bombay should be
made commissaries to assist the Bishops in the performance of
the duties which belong to the office of Archdeacon, on allow-
ances of £200 or £250 per annum.

(8) The office of Archdeacon in Bombay being vacant, the
Suffragan Bishop of Bombay can be consecrated in England ;
and the two Bishops of Calcutta and Bombay can consecrate
a third Bishop in India, ' by which means the necessity of
recalling the Archdeacon of Madras to this country will be
avoided.' ^

(9) Dioceses should be commensurate with Presidencies.
Mr. Grant expressed his assurance of the concurrence of the

Court of Directors, and his opinion that there was no good
reason for delay. He concluded by saying that though the
measure would be opposed by a few in the House of Commons,
it would be hailed with satisfaction by the majority of the
nation. ' In short it is a measure just, humane, moderate and

' It Avas intended to appoint Archdeacon Robinson of Madras to the
bishopric of Madras.


The Bill was passed in 1833.^ It provided that ' in case it
shall please His Majesty to erect, found, and constitute two
Bishoprics, one to be styled the Bishopric of Madras and the
other the Bishopric of Bombay, and from time to time to
nominate and appoint Bishops to such Bishoprics,' the salaries
of the Bishops should be paid out of the territorial revenues and
should be fixed at Rs. 24,000 per annum. The jurisdiction of
the Bishops was to be fixed by His Majesty's Royal Letters
Patent, and was to be varied from time to time if His Majesty
saw fit. In similar language the limits of the dioceses were to
be fixed, and power retained to vary them in the future under
Royal Letters Patent.^ The Archdeacons of Madras and
Bombay were not abolished, but their salaries were reduced to
Rs.3000 per annum.

The year 1834 passed without the issue of the Royal Letters
Patent, owing to a financial difficulty. At the end of that
year ^ Mr. Charles Grant wrote a minute explaining the diffi-
culty for the information of his successor at the India Board.
He said that :

(1) He desired to state the position in which the question
of the two new Bishoprics in India then stood.

(2) It was his desire to recommend His Majesty without
delay to appoint Bishops for Madras and Bombay, in order to
diminish the labours of the Bishop of Calcutta.

(3) To effect this purpose in a way judicious, prompt
and economical, he would have advised His Majesty to nominate
to one of the Bishoprics Archdeacon Daniel Corrie of Calcutta ;
and he would have tried to find a fit and proper person in this
country ^ for the other, who with the Bishop of Calcutta might
have consecrated Corrie in India under provisions of section 99
of the Act.

(4) But he found that until the salaries of the Archdeacons
can be placed on the reduced scale mentioned in section 101,

1 It is known as 3 & 4 William IV. c. 85.

- Section 93.

^ The Minute is^dated Dec. 9, 1834. India Office Records, Home Series,
Miscellaneous, vol. 59.

"* By this time Mr. Charles Grant had given up Archdeacon Robinson of
Madras, his first choice, for Archdeacon Corrie of Calcutta, who was several years
senior to Robinson.

VOL. II. 2 A


it is impracticable to give the Bishops of Madras and Bombay
the salaries assigned in section 89, and at the same time to
keep the whole expense of Bishops and Archdeacons together
within the limits prescribed by section 101.

(5) He was therefore compelled to narrow his views to the
appointment of one additional Bishop ; and after consultation
with Earl Grey and the Archbishop of Canterbury it was deter-
mined that Mr. Corrie should be the new Bishop, and that his
Bishopric should be Madras and not Bombay.

(6) Mr. Grant, having received the sanction of His Majesty
to the selection of Mr. Corrie, wrote to that gentleman and
desired that ho would with all practical despatch come home for

The reduction of the salaries of the Archdeacons of Madras
and Bombay was not intended to affect those holding the
ofl&ces at the time of the passing of the Act. The vacancy of the
office at Bombay enabled the authorities to appoint a Bishop to
one of the intended Sees. The other had to wait for an occupant
until the Archdeacon of Madras either retired or resigned, in
order that his salary might be transferred for the new purpose.
Archdeacon Robinson resigned shortly after the arrival of
Bishop Corrie in Madras ; and within a short time a Bishop
was nominated and consecrated for Bombay.

The King issued the Royal Letters Patent establishing the
See of Madras in June 1835. The Letters commenced by
reciting all that had been done by the Letters Patent of 1813
establishing the See of Calcutta. Then they continued :

' Now know ye that, to the end that our intention may be
further carried into effect. We do by these presents ordain and
declare Our Royal will and pleasure to be, that from and after
the tenth day of October next. Our territories within the limits
of the Presidency of Madras and Our territories within the Island
of Ceylon shall be erected into a Bishop's See, and We do by
these presents erect, found, ordain, make and constitute [such
territories] to be a Bishop's See accordingly.'

Then follows the appointment of Dr. Daniel Corrie to the
Bishopric, subject to the rights of revocation and resignation,
and his subordination to the Bishop of Calcutta as Metropohtan


of the Province. Episcopal powers and coercive jurisdiction
were then given to the Bishop and his successors, together
with the right to appoint to the office of Archdeacon a Chaplain
in the service of the East India Company, and to the office of
Registrar ' a proper and sufficient person.' There were also
powers to hear and determine suits in the ecclesiastical court,
subject to the right of appeal to the Government of Fort St.
George. The Bishop was made a body corporate with power
to purchase and hold property in trust, and to use a corporate

On June 30, 1835, the authorities of the Heralds' College
registered the armorial bearings granted by the King to the
Bishop of Madras and his successors, which were : Argent, on
a mount vert in front of a banian tree, a kid on the dexter
couchant looking towards the sinister, and on the sinister a
leopard couchant guardant, all proper ; a chief azure, thereon
a dove rising, in the beak an olive branch, also proper, between
two crosses patee or.

On October 24, 1835, Bishop Corrie arrived at Madras.

2 A 2



1805 to 1835 "i

William Thomas. — Son of Richard Thomas of Shrewsbury.
Born 1779. Educated at Shrewsbury. Matriculated at Christ
Church, Oxford, 1797, but did not graduate. Appointed by the
Directors 1805. Served at Bellary 1806-8 ; Cannanore and the

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 32 of 39)