Untold lives blog

70 posts categorized "Religion"

25 April 2022

The Prayer Book of a Queen: Isabella of Castile and Inquisitorial Culture in Late Medieval Spain

In the British Library’s illuminated manuscript collection lies the breviary of Isabella of Castile, queen of Spain alongside her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, in the late 15th century.  This breviary, much like Isabella’s book of hours that is held by the Cleveland Museum of Art in the United States, was designed to be used by Isabella on a daily basis to recite daily prayers and record the lives of saints.  Beyond its daily function as a prayer book, what can this book tell us about Isabella herself?  What can it tell us about religious life in late medieval Castile, particularly for Jews and Muslims living in Isabella’s domains?

The month of January as depicted in the calendar section of the manuscriptThe month of January as depicted in the calendar section of the manuscript (MS 18851, c. 1497)  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

To place this manuscript in its 1497 context, we must first travel back to 1494 when Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo Borgia of Valencia) bestowed both Isabella and Ferdinand with the title ‘The Catholic Kings’ following their annexation of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in 1492.  This title came to characterise the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand since quickly after the extension of their rule into Granada, the Muslim and Jewish residents of Iberia were made to convert to Latin Christianity or leave the peninsula entirely.  Many travelled to the Americas to live in Iberian controlled territories in North and South America, while others fled to the Ottoman Empire or the North African coast.  For those that did remain, called conversos in Castilian Spanish, life under Isabella and Ferdinand was tumultuous as the establishment of the ‘heretical’.  Their religious practices, dress, interactions with their neighbours, and daily lives were scrutinised by the Inquisition in violent and, often, deadly ways.

The coat of arms of Isabella and FerdinandThe coat of arms of Isabella and Ferdinand Digitised Manuscripts (bl.uk)  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

What, then, does MS 18851 have to do with this history of religious persecution and violence?  Like the books of hours and breviaries of other Iberian monarchs, notably of Alfonso V of in the British Library’s collection, they were crafted both for personal use and for performance since these manuscripts were often shared at court and read among the ladies of a queen’s household.  Since Isabella’s breviary was not only for her eyes, its importance as a symbol for her piety and position as a ‘Catholic Monarch’ meant that it embodied the social, political, and religious violence occurring in late 15th century Iberia since she used books, artwork, architecture, and dress to perform the role of the Catholic Queen.  While those within her domains were forced to convert and tried before the Inquisition, Isabella’s books, both the breviary and the book of hours, were symbols of her position as a Christian ruler for her own subjects and courtesans, and for those that flip through its digitised pages at the British Library today.

Jessica Minieri
Doctoral Researcher in the Department of History at Binghamton University

Further Reading:
Catlos, Brian A. Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, c. 1050-1614. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Downey, Kirstin. Isabella: The Warrior Queen. New York: Doubleday, 2014.
Edwards, John. Isabella of Castile: Spain’s Inquisitor Queen. Tempus Publishing, 2005.
García-Arenal, Mercedes, Gerard Wiegers, Consuela López-Morillas, and Martin Beagles, eds. The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora. Leiden: Brill, 2014.
Piera, Montserrat. Women Readers and Writers in Medieval Iberia: Spinning the Text. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

This blog post is part of a collaborative series with Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs). On the last Monday of every month, both Untold Lives and MEMOs' own blog will feature a post written by a member of the MEMOs team, showcasing their research in the British Library collections. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #BLMEMOS.

 

17 February 2022

Thomas Richardson Colledge: the missing years

Thomas Richardson Colledge, favourite student of Sir Astley Cooper, became a renowned medical missionary.  Educated at Rugby, with initial training at Leicester Infirmary, Colledge entered the East India Company’s service in 1819 as a ship’s surgeon.  Eight years later he joined the Company’s China factory in Macau and Canton.  He was responsible for establishing the Medical Missionary Society of China.

Details of Colledge’s twelve years in China may be found in histories of British involvement in China and the celebrated diaries of his American friend Harriet Low. Colledge’s contemporaries in China included Jardine, Dent, Lindsay, Inglis and Elliott. He is noted for his support for the dying Lord Napier, Britain’s first Chief Superintendent of Trade at Canton. Colledge left China before the First Opium War.

Painting of Thomas Richardson Colledge and His Assistant Afun in Their Ophthalmic Hospital, Macau'Thomas Richardson Colledge, M.D., and His Assistant Afun in Their Ophthalmic Hospital, Macau', by George Chinnery, 1833, oil on canvas.
Gift of Cecilia Colledge, in memory of her father, Lionel Colledge, FRCS, 2003, M23017. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Whilst there are glimpses of his later life as a highly respected opthalmic physician and pillar of Cheltenham society, there is little or nothing about the formative early period he spent at sea.  Ships’ journals in the India Office Records help shed light on these years.

Each of Colledge’s four voyages to China presented its own challenges and learning experiences.  The first three voyages were on board the East Indiaman General Harris, Captain George Welstead.

During the 1819 voyage to Penang and China, the General Harris was struck by lightning in Cape latitudes and there were many casualties.  Five men died and one man was terribly mangled.  The rest were very lucky to escape - a fire on a wooden ship carrying casks of strong spirits stored close to powder barrels was to be avoided at all costs.  Later in the voyage, the large number of sick crew placed the ship at risk when navigating the dangerous shoals of the Palawan Passage.

The second voyage in 1821 was far longer and even more trying .  Within days of arrival in Madras, cholera ran through the ship.  To Colledge’s credit only one man died.  However Colledge was lucky to survive when a boat returning him to the ship capsized.

Some months later the General Harris assisted the General Kyd, lying dangerously beached on the notorious South Sands of the Malacca Straits.  The two ships then encountered a typhoon which reduced the General Harris to bare poles.  After stopping for essential repairs in St John’s Bay, the ships arrived in China to be caught up in a suspension of trade caused by a dispute between the Chinese and HMS Topaze.  For several weeks the General Harris was held back at Chuenpi and then ordered to sail back to the Straits of Malacca to return the following season.  The General Harris arrived home in April 1823, after an absence of more than two years.

The voyage of the General Harris in 1824 was disrupted by a tornado, ill-discipline, and an uncharted reef in the South China Sea.  A minor collision in Anjer was followed by a furious gale off the Cape which brought a great deal of water on board.

Colledge’s fourth and last voyage to China on the troop transport Abercrombie Robinson, Captain John Innes, appears to have been relatively uneventful.  The journal records two births on board and the punishment of Private John Kent, who received 150 lashes out of a sentence of 300.

After eight years at sea, the offer of a posting in China must have been a most attractive proposition!

Jim Markland
Cheltenham Local History Society


Further Reading:
General Harris: Journal, George Welstead Captain, (25 Jan 1819-31 Jul 1820) IOR/L/MAR/B/32D, British Library, India Office Records.
General Harris: Journal, George Welstead, Captain (4 Jan 1821-7 May 1823) IOR/L/MAR/B/32E, British Library, India Office Records.
General Harris: Journal, George Welstead, Captain (18Nov 1823-8 Jun 1825), IOR/L/MAR/B/32F, British Library, India Office Records.
Abercrombie Robinson: Captain John Innes, Journal (18 Nov 1825-17 Apr 1827) IOR/L/MAR/B/3&1A, British Library, India Office Records.
Colledge, Frances Mary, Thomas Richardson Colledge, (Looker-On Printing Company).
Colledge, Robert, Medicine and Mission: The life and interesting times of a Nineteenth-century pioneering doctor, (Aspect Design, 2020).
Collis, M., Foreign Mud, Faber (1946).
Morse, Hosea Ballou, The Chronicles of the East India Company trading to China 1635-1834 (Oxford University Press 1926).

 

02 February 2022

Benjamin Schultze, Missionary in Madras

The India Office Family History Search (IOFHS) is a database amassed from a wide variety of biographical sources contained within the India Office Records and Private Papers.  It contains references to births, marriages, and deaths and other biographical information.  It’s a wide-ranging resource on people connected to India (and South Asia more widely) via the East India Company and the India Office, be they European, of mixed Anglo-Indian parentage, or of Indian descent.

Page from Madras Baptisms Marriages and Burials 1698-1788 showing Malabarians converted by Mr Schultze, Danish MissionaryIOR/N/2/1 f.214 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Searching IOFHS brings up the records of 96 baptisms in Madras between April 1728 and June 1729, contained in the volume Madras Baptisms Marriages and Burials, 1698-1788 (IOR/N/2/1).  The 96 individuals have no recorded surnames, but each record contains the phrase ‘Malabarians converted by Mr Schultze, Danish Missionary’.  The baptisms start as a trickle; 14 are recorded in 1728, but 1729 starts with a flood with 45 people baptised in January and February, with a further 28 in March and April.  Many of the baptismal names are Westernised (Helena, Philip, Tobias) and unsurprisingly many are biblical (Adam, Sarah, Enoch). But some names are non-Western (Mallappen, Potamei, Suttami).  No previous names are recorded.


Portrait of Benjamin Schultze, half-length, turned to the right, looking towards the viewer with head turned to the left, wearing plain collar, holding a narrow bundle of Indian leaflets; coat of arms below.Portrait of Benjamin Schultze 1745 © The Trustees of the British Museum 

This flurry of baptismal activity was carried out by Benjamin Schultze (1689-1760), founder of the ‘English Mission’ in Madras.  He was not actually Danish; he had arrived in India in 1719 as a missionary with the Danish-Halle Mission to Tranquebar.  He was born in Sonnenburg, Brandenburg, and studied at Halle.  On his ordination, he became the first Lutheran minister ordained in India.  Schultze was in charge of the Danish Lutheran mission in Tranquebar from 1720, but in-fighting amongst the missionaries, conflict over the ecumenical direction of the mission and a difficult relationship with local officials somewhat hampered its functioning.  Nevertheless, Schultze had learned both Portuguese and Tamil, and the mission had been successful in translating and printing various biblical and devotional works into Tamil, as well as grammar books and school texts.  In this the mission was supported by the Anglican Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).

In 1726 Schultze travelled to Madras with the intention of establishing a Protestant mission; he viewed the city as strategically important in expanding European missionary work in south India.  He petitioned the East India Company directors, the Governor of Madras, and the SPCK for support, and in August 1728 established the ‘English Mission’ at Vepery.  It was effectively a joint Anglican-Lutheran venture between the SPCK and Halle.  As in Tranquebar, Schultze set out to learn the local languages - mastering Telugu and later Dakkhini (or Deccani) in order to work with local communities.  The records show that Schultze also ministered to the English and other Europeans in the city.  The register for 1728 and 1729 includes a separate section for ‘Malabarians converted by Mr Schultze’.  In this context, Malabarian appears to suggest Tamil (or perhaps Telugu) speakers, rather than a person from the Malabar Coast.  Godmothers and godfathers from the Europeans among the congregation are listed as standing for each convert, or group of converts.

Schultze left the Madras Mission in 1743 to return to Europe, leaving the Mission in the hands of Johann Fabricius (1711-1791).  By that time the congregation had grown to 691 members.  Schultze’s linguistic works while in India included translation of the Bible into Telugu and a Telugu Grammar (although neither were published in his lifetime), as well as the translation of the New Testament and Psalms into Dakkhini, and a Dakkhini Grammar.

Lesley Shapland,
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further reading:
India Office Family History Search 
IOR/N/2/1 Madras: Baptisms, Marriages, Burials 1698-1788
A. Westcott, Our Oldest Indian Mission: A Brief History of the Vepery (Madras) Mission (Madras Diocesan Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge: Madras, 1897) 
“I Appeal to the Whole Christendom”: The Place of Benjamin Schultze in the History of [the Lutheran-Anglican] Ecumenical Cooperation during the Second Quarter of the Eighteenth Century (1719-1743) by Peter Vathanayagamony, PhD Dissertation, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, May 2006. 

 

27 January 2022

The 1914 United Missionary Exhibition 'Other Lands in Leicester': a global and colonial aspiration

In April 1914 the newly built De Montfort Hall in Leicester hosted a United Missionary Exhibition.  ‘Other Lands in Leicester’ was described as ‘A picturesque and vivid representation of work in many lands’.  The exhibition was deliberately fixed during Easter week, between 6 and 16 April, as this is the most important celebration for the Christian religion, and this period must have been thought of as ideal for attracting visitors from all over the country and engaging more volunteers.  The aim was to educate and inspire the public about missionary work abroad.

Advert for ‘Other Lands in Leicester’ at the De Montfort Hall in April 1914Leicester Daily Post, Thursday 19 March 1914, The British Newspaper Archive.

Missionary exhibitions aimed to bring different fields of activity together in one city.   Visitors could tour the colonised world without travelling, through the convenience of a settled exhibition organized by comfortable explanatory pavilions.  In the ethnographic and anthropological museums emerging at the beginning of the 20th century, it was common practice to collect and reframe objects based on colonial contemporary categories.  Material culture circulated in international exhibitions, which emerged around the 1840s and lasted until the 1960s, albeit with substantial changes due to mutations in ideology, politics, and taste after the Second World War.  Both museums and these events played a crucial role in shaping knowledge around the relationship between Britain and Empire through the use of material culture, and therefore the history of collections and taste is closely linked with the objects arrived in Europe through colonial missions abroad.

The concept of a standalone exhibition of missionary objects began with the first independent missionary exhibition organised by the London Missionary Society in 1908 with the name ‘The Orient in London’.  This – and ‘Africa and the East’ the following year, still in London - set the pattern for other exhibitions in Europe and the United States.  These were events to display and sell objects produced before and after the arrival of missionaries.

But what was the idea behind such huge object-based lessons?

While the broader public participated in missionary exhibitions for elements of spectacle, amusement, and exoticism, the Church wanted to show the success of missionary work in converting local population to Christianity, and therefore justify the cost of the Empire and raise funds for further missions.

In ‘Other Lands in Leicester’, three different ecclesiastical institutions – the Baptist Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society, and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society - gathered together to show their union and will in achieving the goal of the evangelization of the Empire.  This ‘union’, which saw no major divisions between different branches of the Christian Church, might be considered as the will to foster an imperial civilising mission toward ‘the heathens’.   An article inThe Leicester Mail  clarifies that the exhibition’s scope was ‘Not merely the show, but the coming into contact with the nations that would be represented’.

Plan of the Hall at the United Missionary Exhibition in Leicester 1914Plan of the Hall at the United Missionary Exhibition. It is possible to see evocative sections dedicated to the display of a Chinese Tea Garden, a Congo Village, or a Malagasy Market. The Exhibition Herald, 3, February 1914,  The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, box 4D56/91.

But who decided the narrative in the representation of those nations?  How could missionary exhibitions be neutral if they were imperial institutions that conveyed a religious, artistic and political message?

Around 1200 stewards were hired at Leicester with the purpose of explaining the exhibits to the public.  This suggests that objects were used as a means to educate visitors in Leicester about their global place, and to illustrate the national progress and religious success of Christianity through missions.

Maria Chiara Scuderi
AHRC PhD researcher – University of Leicester

Further reading:
Leicester Daily Post, Thursday 19 March 1914, The British Newspaper Archive.
The Leicester Mail, Thursday 4 March 1913, The British Newspaper Archive.
The Exhibition Herald, 1, October 1913, The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, box 4D56/91.
The Exhibition Herald, 3, February 1914, The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, box 4D56/91.
Corbey, R., Weener, F., K., 2015, ‘Collecting while converting: missionaries and ethnographics’, Journal of Art Historiography, 12, pp. 1-14.
Filipová, M., 2016, Cultures of International Exhibitions 1840-1940. Great Exhibitions in the Margins, London: Routledge.
Groten, M., 2018. ‘Difference Between the Self and the Heathen. European Imperial Culture in Dutch Missionary Exhibitions, 1909–1957’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 47,3, pp. 490-513.
Hasinoff, E. L., 2011, Faith in Objects. American Missionary Exposition in the Early 20th century, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Jacobs, K., Knowles, C., Wingfield, C., 2015, Trophies, Relics and Curious? Missionary Heritage from Africa and the Pacific, London: Sidestone.
Longair, S., McAleer, J., 2012, Curating Empire, Museums and the British imperial experience, Manchester: Manchester United Press.
McAleer, J., Mackenzie, J., M., 2015, Exhibiting Empire. Cultures of display and the British Empire, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

 

20 January 2022

The man who lost his memory – Part 2

We continue our story of the Reverend Philip Read, looking at his work and travels across the globe.

Philip Read (or Philip Chesshyre Read) was born in 1850 in Hyde, Cheshire, the son of Anglican clergyman Alexander and his wife Anne Whiteway.  He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and won a scholarship to Lincoln College Oxford.  He served as a sub-lieutenant in the Oxford Rifle Volunteers.  After graduating, he taught at Marlborough before being ordained as a priest in 1874.  He was headmaster of the school at Newton in Lancashire in 1876.  The following year Read took up an appointment at Bishop’s College in Lennoxville, Quebec, where he became Professor of Classics and Moral Philosophy.  He travelled a good deal, visiting many countries including the West Indies and Spain.

In 1879 he married Helen Rosina McCallum, the daughter of a Quebec barrister.  Their sons Alexander Cuthbert and Philip Austin Ottley were born in Canada before the family moved to England.  Daughter Helen Chesshyre Hazlehurst (known as Hazel) was born in Newcastle in 1889.

Painting of Royal Mail Ship Ormuz at sea - black smoke coming out of the funnelsPainting of RMS Ormuz c. 1895 © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

At the time of the April 1891 census the Reads were living in Jesmond, but in the autumn of that year they sailed on RMS Ormuz to Ceylon.  Read was installed as Warden of St Thomas’ College Colombo.  There are reports of the family’s activities in the Ceylon Observer, including Philip Read’s stay in the hill town of Nuwara Eliya to recover his health when struck by illness in January 1893.

The College history describes Read as ‘a brilliant scholar and a great preacher’, kind-hearted with a keen sense of humour, a talented organist and pianist.  However he was said to have been unsuited to the post of Warden, as well as being burdened by ‘private sorrows’, and he left the College in 1895.

After Read’s breakdown and memory loss described in our previous post, he returned to South Asia to perform missionary work in Rangoon.  However his health failed again and he went back to England in 1899.  He then served as curate in Walmsley Lancashire, taking special charge of St Andrew’s Mission Church at Toppings.

In 1901 he was boarding with the family of a lithographic printer in Turton, apart from his family.  Son Philip was a pupil at Haileybury College.  Hazel was living with her uncle Thomas Wood Shaw in Bolton.  Alexander, a clerk, had left Liverpool for New York in July 1900 on board SS Lucania.  The passenger list states that he was joining his mother Helen in New Jersey.  Helen appears to have moved between the United States and Canada before setting in Los Angeles.  She died there in 1942.

Obituary for Philip Read

Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser 30 January 1903 British Newspaper Archive Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Philip Read died in January 1903 following an accident on Christmas Day when he slipped into a ditch and broke his leg.  His death was widely mourned, not only by his congregation in Lancashire who had warmed to his ‘kind tact and sympathy’, but also in Ceylon where he was remembered as the ‘most eloquent, most cultivated and most genial of Wardens’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
India Office files about Philip Read's memory loss: IOR/L/PJ/6/417 Files 511 and 570; IOR/L/PJ/6/418 File 615; IOR/L/PJ/6/420 File 845.
Ceylon Observer e.g. 6 November 1891; 5 January 1893; 21 February 1900.
W T Keble, A history of St. Thomas’ College Colombo (Colombo, 1937).
British Newspaper Archive e.g. Manchester Evening News 23 January 1903; Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser 30 January 1903.
Ancestry and Findmypast for census and migration records from UK, Canada and USA.

 

18 January 2022

The man who lost his memory – Part 1

In February 1896 a man calling himself William Simpson was sent from Bhusawal to the Bombay Commissioner of Police.  ‘Simpson’ was suffering from loss of memory and could only remember a few facts about himself.  He had travelled a great deal in England, France, Belgium, Spain and the USA.  He was acquainted with classical Greek and Latin writers, spoke some French, German, Italian and Spanish, and could also read a little Hindustani.  As a youth he had studied Arabic and Sanskrit.  He had lived in Gibraltar for some time and knew a clergyman called Addison.  He remembered finding himself in Calcutta at the beginning of the year and thought he had landed from a steamer. 

‘Simpson’ was dressed in soiled white clothing.  His shirt bore the mark of A .G. Copeland of Manchester, and his almost new hat was made by Ellwood.  He wore a gold ring with the initials ‘C S H & S’ inside.

A place was found for ‘Simpson’ in the Strangers’ Home at Bombay where he would receive good care.  The Commissioner asked the Bombay Government to send copies of the information about the man to the police in Manchester and London, together with his ‘Anthrocard’ which bore his photograph and a physical description.

Anthrocard for 'William Simpson', with photograph, thumb print, and physical description.

Reverse of Anthrocard with a diagram of a man showing scar on bridge of nose. 'Anthrocard' for 'William Simpson' completed by the police in Bombay February 1896 IOR/L/PJ/6/417 File 511 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The India Office in London contacted detectives at New Scotland Yard and Manchester to no avail.  No-one at A.G. Copeland remembered ‘Simpson’ as a customer.  However the firm said it would be able to name the person who bought the shirt if they were sent the number stamped on it.

It is unclear from the India Office files if the shirt number proved to be the vital clue, but in April 1896 the Bombay Government knew the identity of ‘William Simpson’.  He was an Anglican priest, the Reverend Philip Read, formerly Warden of St Thomas’ College Colombo.

Read  PhilipPhotograph of Warden Philip Read from W. T. Keble, A history of St. Thomas’ College Colombo Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Ceylon Observer published updates about Philip Read, who was much-liked during his time in Colombo.  He kept himself busy at the Strangers’ Home by teaching the son of the superintendent, and the Bishop of Bombay spent a lot of time with him. His memory was only partially restored and he was not quite himself, although well otherwise.  It was said that a ‘malady’ had been undermining Read’s powers for years before culminating in a complete breakdown at the end of 1895.  His illness had seriously affected his concentration and ability to carry out his duties as College Warden.

The Bishop of Bombay secured a passage to the UK for Read on board SS Hispania.  During the voyage Read suffered from dysentery twice.  On arrival in England, he was attacked with ‘rheumatic gout’ which weakened him.  His family were already in England but he did not join them, instead going to stay with a cousin in the west of Ireland.

Our next post will tell the story of Philip Read’s life and travels before and after his memory loss.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
India Office files about ‘William Simpson’: IOR/L/PJ/6/417 Files 511 and 570; IOR/L/PJ/6/418 File 615; IOR/L/PJ/6/420 File 845.
W. T. Keble, A history of St. Thomas’ College Colombo (Colombo, 1937).
Ceylon Observer 29 April 1896; 21 May 1896; 10 September 1896.

 

23 November 2021

Miguel of Mazagon, Mumbai- Part Two

We continue our story of Miguel de Lima e Souza.

Miguel was now part of the British establishment in Bombay, both politically and socially.  He was a member of the Insurance Society, a key association of those who mattered financially.   The Bombay Almanac of 1798 announced the birth of his son and listed him among the ten most prominent European merchants in Bombay.  Father Ernest Hull wrote that Miguel was one of the richest people in Bombay. 

Description of the estate formerly owned by Miguel de Lima e Souza when it was sold ini 1823

Bombay Gazette  29 October 1823 British Newspaper Archive 

Miguel's connections destined him to play the leading role in the Padroado-Propaganda struggle, which at one point threatened the future of the Catholic Church not only in Bombay but also the whole of Asia.  This was a very complex matter with its roots going back to the early 16th century.   In Miguel’s time, Rome was attempting to take on greater responsibility for the Church in the East, a role which was strongly resisted by the Portuguese state and church which had traditionally had the right of ‘Patronage’, or the authority to manage and have the last word in all ecclesiastical issues in the region.

View from Belmont looking towards the back of the harbour including part of the village of Mazagon, the islands of Carranjar, Elephanta and Butcher bounded by the hills of Mahratta countryView from Belmont looking towards the back of the harbour including part of the village of Mazagon, the islands of Carranjar, Elephanta and Butcher bounded by the hills of Mahratta country - from James Wales, Bombay Views: Twelve Views Of The Island Of Bombay And Its Vicinity Taken In The Years 1791 And 1792 Shelfmark: X 436 

At that time, Bombay was under Propaganda or the direct authority of Rome.  Sir Miguel now fell foul of the local authorities.  According to Father Hull, Miguel asked to have a prominent Protestant stand as godfather to his son, and this request was refused as being contrary to Church law.  This apparently was so offensive to Sir Miguel that he set in motion a process with the support of the British both locally and in London, as well as the backing of the Primate of Goa and Lisbon, that led to the transfer of Bombay to the jurisdiction of the Padroado Archbishop of Goa.  This proved unpopular locally with both the foreign elite as well as the lower classes of indigenous Catholics and the decision was reversed.  Miguel however leveraged all his political and social status to reverse this decision in turn and this led to a lot of ecclesiastical turmoil eventually leading to what is called the Double Jurisdiction, with some Churches under Rome and others under Goa.  The resulting bitterness led to a serious rift amongst the Catholic population, both people and priests, with one group of priests coming under the threat of excommunication in what is known as the Salsette schism.

Miguel was the spearhead of the Propaganda party initially, aiming to make the local church self-sustainable by founding a seminary known as the Bombay College on his own property.   But his efforts for local autonomy were not successful and the Propaganda parishes came under the tight control of the authorities of Goa.  There were stories that Miguel later regretted his role in the split and reportedly was reconciled to Rome and Propaganda on his deathbed.  While there is no direct evidence for this, his grandson Miguel de Lima e Souza (Junior) owed allegiance to Propaganda.  But that is another story!

Megan deSouza, independent researcher and blogger
Denis Rodrigues, amateur historian interested in the history of Bombay

Further reading:
The Home People 
Ernest R Hull, Bombay mission-history with a special study of the Padroado question (Bombay, 1927, 1930) British Library shelfmark Asia Pacific & Africa V 2145
The Portuguese Militia in Bombay
British Newspaper Archive also available via Findmypast

Miguel of Mazagon, Mumbai- Part One

05 November 2021

Fireworks in India for Queen Victoria

A Royal Proclamation was published in India on 1 November 1858 transferring government from the East India Company to the Crown.  The document, addressed to the Princes, Chiefs, and people of India, was read out in the open in many places in both English and vernacular languages.  Public displays of fireworks and illuminations were organised to celebrate the change.

Copy of the Proclamation by the Queen in Council dated Allahabad 1 November 1858, announcing the transference of the government of India from the East India Company to the CrownCopy of the Proclamation by the Queen in Council dated Allahabad 1 November 1858, announcing the transference of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown - British Library Mss Eur D620

The transfer of power from the Company to the Crown took place in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion. Viscount Canning was appointed first Viceroy and Governor General.  The proclamation announced that all Company civil and military personnel were confirmed in post ‘subject to Our future pleasure’.  Treaties and engagements made with Princes of India were to be ‘scrupulously maintained’.  No extension to present British territories was desired and the ‘Rights, Dignity, and Honour’ of the Princes would be respected.  Internal peace and good government would secure social advancement for the whole of India.  The native peoples of British India would be treated with the same obligations of duty as all Queen Victoria’s other subjects.  There was to be no imposition of Christianity, no discrimination on religious grounds, and no interference with belief or worship.  People of any race or creed would be able to hold office if qualified ‘by their education, ability, and integrity’.  Ancient rights, usages and customs would be respected.

The proclamation also spoke of the Rebellion, lamenting ‘the evils and misery which have been brought upon India by the acts of ambitious men’.  Pardons were offered for all ‘Offenders’ except those convicted of ‘having directly taken part in the Murder of British Subjects’.

Viscount Canning presided over the proclamation ceremony at Allahabad, which began with a salute of nineteen guns and the national anthem.  The document was read out in English, followed by an Urdu translation.  A firework display lasted from 8.30pm to nearly midnight – ‘trees of fire, crackers, squibs, whirligigs, and rockets’.

In Calcutta, large numbers of people gathered to hear the proclamation read from the steps of Government House, first in English and then in Bengali.  The royal standard was hoisted, cheered by the Europeans in the crowd.  At night there was a wonderful display of gas light illuminations.  The Homeward Mail was impressed: ‘ No other city in the world could have prepared such a sight... The City of Palaces shone a city of fire… we do not think any pen can paint the beauty of the scene’.  Even the smallest shops were decorated with a few lights.

Crowds flocked to the fort in Bombay to hear the proclamation in English and Marathi.  Ships in the harbour then fired a salute of 101 guns.  The fireworks were on a scale never before seen in Bombay and workmen had spent days constructing elaborate illuminations on government buildings and the private mansions of prominent Indians.  Poor citizens had decorated the narrow streets and alleys.

At Madras the proclamation was read in front of an invited European audience of about 100, and there was a gun salute.  According to The Homeward Mail the only Indian present was the man who translated the document from English.  However a week later there were ‘some bad fireworks’, dancing girls and jugglers, and a state ball at the illuminated banqueting ball.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Library Mss Eur D620 Copy of the Proclamation by the Queen in Council dated Allahabad 1 November 1858.
British Newspaper Archive also available via Findmypast e.g. The Friend of India 4 November 1858; The Homeward Mail 6 December and 15 December 1858; Evening Mail 6 December 1858.

There are a number of files in the India Office Records about public ceremonies held to celebrate the proclamation e.g.
IOR/L/PS/6/495, Coll 76/312 Measures taken to publicize the Royal Proclamation announcing the assumption of the Government of India by the Crown, October 1858-June 1859.
IOR/L/PS/6/463, Coll 36/9 Notification to the Princely States of Northern India of the Royal Proclamation transferring the government of India to the Crown - reports on the public ceremonies held in celebration - complimentary letters from some of the Native Princes, October 1858-January 1859.
IOR/L/PS/6/489, Coll 76/14 Papers relating to the North Western Provinces - expenditure incurred on illuminations in the Rohilkhand Division during the ceremonies accompanying the formal transfer of power from the East India Company to the Queen, November 1858-January 1860.
IOR/L/PS/6/490, Coll 76/46 North Western Provinces - expenditure of 38 rupees 5 annas on illuminations at Jalalabad Fort on the occasion of the reading of the Royal Proclamation, January 1859-January 1860.
IOR/L/PS/6/490, Coll 76/39 North Western Provinces - expenditure of 5446 rupees incurred on providing fireworks and illuminations at Allahabad on the occasion of the reading of the Royal Proclamation, January 1859-January 1860.
IOR/L/PS/6/490, Coll 76/36 North Western Provinces - expenditure of 500 rupees incurred on illuminations and fireworks at Banda during the occasion of the reading of the Royal Proclamation, January 1859-January 1860.

 

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