Untold lives blog

270 posts categorized "South Asia"

10 May 2022

Grants of money made by the East India Company

In 1831 the East India Company was directed by its General Court of Proprietors to prepare a statement of expenditure since 1813 on grants of money and pensions.  This was to include grants over £200, pensions of £100 per annum and above, and all superannuation and retirement allowances, except those paid to civil and military personnel under Company regulations.  Names of recipients, amounts, and reasons were set down, and the list was printed for the information of the Company’s shareholders.

Title page of Grants of Money  Pensions  Superannuations  and Retiring Allowances made by the East India CompanyTitle page of Grants of Money Pensions Superannuations and Retiring Allowances made by the East India Company IOR/L/AG/9/8/2 no. 379  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

A wide range of European men and women received money for many different reasons, relating to activities both in Asia and in the UK.  Famous names appear.  Captain George Everest received £600 in 1830 for ‘the superior nature of his duties’ when employed on the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India.  Thomas Stamford Raffles was paid £315 in 1816 for expenses involved in publishing his History of Java.  Major General Henry Shrapnel was awarded a pension of £200 per annum in 1828 as a consideration for any future supplies to the Company of shells of his invention.

Clarke AbelClarke Abel. Lithograph by M. Gauci after P. W. Wilkin. Image courtesy of Wellcome Collection 363i.


At the top of the list of grants are two payments to surgeon and naturalist Dr Clarke Abel.  The first for £434 was made in 1818 as the value of the apparatus Abel lost in the wreck of the Alceste when returning from China with the Amherst embassy.  The second grant in 1823 for £500 was to provide equipment required for Abel’s research as a naturalist going to India with Lord Amherst.

First page of grants of money in the statementFirst page of grants of money in the statement  OR/L/AG/9/8/2 no. 379  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Further down the page are two more surgeons.  Dr Whitelaw Ainslie received £600 in 1816 for ‘the merit and utility’ of his book Materia Medica of Hindostan.  James Annesley of the Madras medical establishment was given £500 for ‘the talents, energy and zeal displayed by him, in the publication of an elaborate work on the diseases of India’.

The Abbé Dubois, a Roman Catholic missionary, received a pension of £100 per annum from 1824 for vaccinating patients in India and for his ‘high character’.

Captain Thomas Mackeson, formerly a commander in the Company’s mercantile marine, was awarded a pension of £200 per annum in 1814 for his services and a wound received from a Spaniard on board his ship.  According to the Madras Courier, Mackeson was visiting the sick on his ship the Sarah Christiana towards the end of 1809 when he was hit on the back of the head with a hatchet by a crew member.  A court martial was held in Madras in March 1810 and the man was sentenced to death.

In 1815 Lieutenant Colonel George Hanbury Pine was granted £600 for his long detention in France as a prisoner of war.

Widow Mary Ann Sawyer was granted a pension of £100 per annum in 1824 in recognition of her late husband’s service in sorting the Company’s cinnamon which ‘materially contributed to its advantageous sale’.

Royal Navy captains were given money for convoying Company ships.  Many entries concern distressed widows and children of Company men.  There are a number of pensions awarded to civil and military servants for ‘insanity’.  London employees were rewarded for long service when they retired: auditor William Wright was allocated a pension of £1800 per annum in 1825 after 54 years with the Company.

This is just a small selection from a 41-page document providing fascinating glimpses into lives which were intertwined with the East India Company.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
IOR/L/AG/9/8/2 no. 379 Grants of Money, Pensions, Superannuations, and Retiring Allowances made by the East India Company (Printed in London 1831).
British Newspaper Archive: Madras Courier 20 December 1809 and 27 March 1810.

03 May 2022

Case of a destitute man in London

From time to time the Public Department of the India Office in London would receive desperate requests for help from travellers who had fallen on difficulties while in London.  One such case was that of Francis Peters which came to the attention of the India Office in June 1875.

India Office minute about Francis Peters June 1875India Office minute about Francis Peters, Jun 1875 IOR/L/PJ/2/55, File 7/486 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Francis Peters had been employed on the ship Forfarshire taking Indian indentured labourers from Calcutta to British Guiana towards the end of 1874.  He had worked on the ship as a Compounder (responsible for receiving and organising the labourers on board ship) and Interpreter.  He subsequently travelled from British Guiana to Britain intending to find a ship back to India, but had fallen on hard times while in London.  The Bengal Government sent to the India Office a copy of the agreement made with Peters which showed that he received in India an advance of £10 and was to receive £25 and a gratuity of 6d for each emigrant landed alive.  He was also to receive from the British Guiana Government passage back to India which had been budgeted at £40 for that purpose.  On making enquiries with the Emigration Commissioners in London, it became clear that it was the general practice to give the compounder the return passage allowance, and they then usually came to London to find a passage back to India.  This was due to the infrequency of ships returning to India from British Guiana.

Letter from the Strangers' Home  9 August 1875Letter from the Strangers' Home to the India Office 9 August 1875 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The India Office wrote to the Strangers’ Home for Asiatics, located in Limehouse in East London.  The Secretary of the Home replied that Peters had squandered his earnings on ‘debauchery’.  According to the Secretary, Peters ‘has been residing in the house of a disreputable woman who has been to the knowledge of the officers of the Home the ruin of two or three others – one of whom who was in England last year we find actually recommended Peters to find her out which he has done to his cost’.  Peters also wrote to the India Office stating that he was ‘suffering great distress from want of a home and food’, and he begged the Secretary of State for India to overlook his faults and pardon him on this occasion.  He wrote that ‘I am daily trying to get a ship but cannot meet with any success and am now homeless’.  He claimed that he had tried to explain his case to the authorities at the Strangers’ Home but that they refused to listen to him.  He concluded that ‘The gnawing pain of hunger has made me appeal to your Lordship’.

Extract from letter written by Francis Peters  7 July 1875Extract from letter written by Francis Peters 7 July 1875 IOR/L/PJ/2/55, File 7/486 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The feeling in the India Office was that something had to be done as Peters was actually starving, even though his conduct may not have been deserving of any sympathy.  The Strangers’ Home was prevailed upon to admit him, and it was arranged that he would work his passage to India aboard the SS Puttiala as a cuddy servant (working in the galley and waiting at dinner). 

Bill for Peters’ stay at the Strangers' Home from 7 July to 6 August plus cartage to the steamer.

Bill for Peters’ stay at the Home from 7 July to 6 August plus cartage to the steamer IOR/L/PJ/2/55, File 7/486 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

On 9 August 1875 the Secretary of the Strangers’ Home wrote to confirm that Peters had left on the ship, and he enclosed the bill for Peters’ stay at the Home from 7 July to 6 August plus cartage to the steamer which came to £3 and 6 shillings.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Case of a man employed as a Compounder and Interpreter on board an emigrant ship and now destitute in London, Jul-Aug 1875, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/55, File 7/486.
Letter from the Bengal Government, Public No.187 of 1874, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/3/72, page 304.

 

28 April 2022

The Soldiers’ Daughters’ Home

In December 1880 thirteen-year-old Ada Rose Mills was removed from the Soldiers' Daughters' Home at Hampstead because she had started to suffer from frequent epileptic fits.  Girls applying for a place at the Home underwent a medical examination and only those judged to be in good physical and mental health were accepted.  If, after admission, a girl was found be afflicted with ‘a malignant, infectious, or incurable disorder’, ‘any bodily or mental defect’, or subject to fits, she was returned immediately to those who recommended or placed her in the Home.  Poor Ada Rose was sent to her widowed mother in Ireland.

Soldiers' Daughters' Home at Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead in 1858Soldiers' Daughters' Home at Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead Illustrated London News 19 June 1858 . Image copyright Illustrated London News Group - British Newspaper Archive

The Soldiers' Daughters' Home at Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead was founded in 1855.  Its object was ‘to nurse, clothe, board, and educate the destitute female children, orphans or not, of Soldiers in Her Majesty’s Army, born during the service, or subsequent to the honourable discharge, of the father’.  The Home aimed to instruct the girls in ‘industrial habits’ fitting them for domestic service.  Scholarships were granted to the ‘most industrious’ to support them whilst training as regimental or parish schoolmistresses.

There were two classes of admission: by election with places supported by the Foundation, and by payment of fees.  This was the order of preference for admission when destitution was proved:
• Total orphans
• Motherless daughters of soldiers
• Fatherless daughters of soldiers
• Girls whose parents were still alive, with the father on active or foreign service.
Two sisters could not attend at the same time unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Girls were taken in from under three years of age up to thirteen, and they could not remain after they reached sixteen.  The Home’s Committee tried to find a suitable situation for each girl, and presented her with an outfit including a Bible and prayer book.  Ex-pupils were considered to be under partial guardianship whilst they remained unmarried and they could return to live at the Home temporarily if seeking a job.

Ada Rose Mills entered the Soldiers' Daughters' Home on 14 June 1877 as a scholar paid for by the Secretary of State for India.  She was born in Bangalore on 21 June 1867, the daughter of Sergeant William Mills of the Madras Sappers and Miners and his wife Annie née Hopkins.  Five siblings were also born in India.

William Mills died of a brain tumour at Secunderabad on 5 September 1873.  His widow Annie was living in Dublin when her son Archibald George enlisted in the Royal Engineers in July 1879 aged fourteen.  He had previously attended the Royal Military Asylum Chelsea for nearly three years as an apprentice.  Annie later moved to Gosport in Hampshire.

The India Office gave Annie Mills payments amounting to £32 0s 6d to support her daughter after she left the Soldiers' Daughters' Home.  Sadly Ada Rose died on 16 February 1885 aged seventeen and her mother was paid £4 for her funeral expenses.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
India Office Records IOR/L/MIL/7/15824-15836 Soldiers' Daughters' Home 1869-1902, includes IOR/L/MIL/7/15833 Admission of Ada Rose Mills in place of Emily Godden and Isabella Hamilton, 1876-1877;  IOR/L/MIL/7/15834 Death of Ada Rose Mills, an inmate of the Soldiers' Daughters' Home, 1881-1889 – the file includes a copy of the rules for the Home dated 1878.
Baptism 14 August 1867 of Ada Rose Mills IOR/N/2/48 f.158, and burial 6 September 1873 of William Mills IOR/N/2/54 f. 157, plus other entries from church records for the family – available via Findmypast.
Record of service for Archibald George Mills The National Archives WO 97/3471 no. 28 - available via Findmypast.

 

07 April 2022

Rescue at Sea of a Man Overboard

On 30 October 1879, the Government of India forwarded to the India Office an extract from a letter written by Captain Methven of the P&O ship Kaisar-i-Hind.  Captain Methven wished to notify his employers and the authorities of the gallant act of bravery on the part of one of his officers in rescuing one of his shipmates from drowning.  Correspondence in a file in the India Office Records described the rescue.

Printed extract from the letter written by Captain Methven about the rescueExtract of letter from Captain Methven IOR/L/PJ/31124 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

This occurred at 10 am on 5 August, when an Indian seaman fell from the foreyard (the lowest yard on a ship's foremast) on to the awning and then overboard, striking an awning stanchion on the way and sustaining several injuries in the process.  The alarm was raised, but the seaman was quickly swept astern of the ship.  A life-buoy was thrown to the stricken man but he was too weak to hold on to it.  As described by the Captain, the second officer G C Brookes ‘made a full spring and took the water close to the spot, felt the lascar with his feet – at this time below the water – let himself sink and clenched him; but there were several instants before Mr Brookes came to the surface’.  A rope was thrown, which Brookes was able to grab while holding tightly to the Indian seaman, and both men were pulled aboard the ship.  Of the rescue Captain Methven wrote: ‘The act was as prompt as it was gallant.  The tide ran dangerously strong.  The man was stunned and disabled, and an instant later and he was inevitable gone…. Altogether it was well done’. 

Letter to the India Office recommending that Brookes' name be put forward to the Royal Humane Society for an awardLetter to the India Office recommending that Brookes' name be put forward to the Royal Humane Society for an award IOR/L/PJ/3/1124 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Government of India agreed with this, and recommended that the India Office bring it to the attention of the Royal Humane Society.  The incident was widely reported in the newspapers of the time, but tragically the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette reported on 29 September 1879 that the Indian seaman had died the same night from the injuries he received in the fall.

View of Westminster Bridge coloured pinkWestminster Bridge from J M Burton, Under Westminster Bridge: a tale of the London dynamiters & unemployed (London, 1888) BL flickrPublic Domain Creative Commons Licence

Newspaper reports indicate that Brookes had been involved in another rescue four years previously in London.  On 7 August 1875, the South London Chronicle reported that a man named Nicholas Socoloff, a chiropodist who worked at the London Bridge Turkish Baths, had ‘purposely fallen’ from a boat into the Thames at Westminster Bridge.  Brookes had jumped into the water and supported Socoloff until help arrived to pull him from the water.  Sadly, it was reported that three days later Socoloff hanged himself at his lodgings while in a state of temporary insanity.

The Royal Humane Society was founded in London in 1774 with the purpose of granting awards in recognition of acts of bravery in saving human life.  For the rescue of Socoloff in 1875 the RHS awarded Brookes a bronze medal, and in 1879 he was awarded a bronze clasp for the rescue of the Indian seaman.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Recommends that the gallant conduct of G C Brookes, Second Officer of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company's Steam Ship Kaisar-i-Hind, in rescuing from drowning a lascar seaman who had fallen overboard be brought to the notice of the Royal Humane Society, 1879, Shelfmark: IOR/L/PJ/3/1124 No.120.

Correspondence with the Royal Humane Society, Shelfmark: IOR/L/PJ/2/55, File 7/495.

The British Newspaper Archive:
South London Chronicle, 07 August 1875
Civil & Military Gazette (Lahore), 16 September 1879
Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 29 September 1879
Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 30 October 1879
London and China Telegraph, 10 November 1879

Acts of Gallantry, Vol. 3, compiled by William H. Feyver & Craig P. Barclay (The Naval & Military Press, 2002), page 71.

Royal Humane Society

 

24 March 2022

Sources for Madame Cama, Indian Political Activist

The struggle for Indian independence from British rule was not only carried on in India, but was eagerly pursued by Indian activists and revolutionaries across the world, particularly in Europe and America.  The India Office Records contains some fascinating files on one such activist, Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama, more often known as Madame Cama.

Stamp of India 1962 depicting Bhikhaiji Cama.Stamp of India 1962 depicting Bhikhaiji Cama. Copyrighted work of the Government of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License - India (GODL)

Born in 1861 into a wealthy Parsi family in Bombay, Madame Cama was educated at the Alexandra Parsi Girls School in Bombay, and later married Rustom Cama, a lawyer and son of the prominent Parsi reformer K R Cama.  With her health suffering due to her work as social worker during the 1897 plague epidemic in Bombay, Madame Cama travelled to Britain in 1901.  She would spend the next three decades working tirelessly for Indian freedom from British rule, becoming known as the ‘Mother of Indian Revolution’.  In 1907, Madame Cama moved to Paris, where she was at the centre of a small group of Indian nationalists.  That year she also travelled to Stuttgart for the International Socialist Conference, where she spoke of the poverty of the Indian people due to British rule, and unfurled the National flag of India 'amid loud cheers' as reported in the Manchester Courier.

The India Office was greatly concerned at the influence of Indian activists abroad, and through the intelligence services kept a close eye on their activities.  In 1915, the India Office received a copy of a letter sent to the Foreign Office from the British Political Officer in Basra, along with a specimen of Bande Mataram, the pamphlet published by Madame Cama, found in an Indian soldier’s kit.  In his letter, he asked: 'In view of the existing conditions of war and of close alliance with France, could the French Government be got to arrest Madame Cama and put her away somewhere?'  A note in the file suggested such a move would do more harm than good and pointed out: 'The lady is under close observation, and is not now in a position to tamper with Indian troops'.  By February 1917 more direct action had been taken, with the newspaper Call reporting that 'Madame B. Cama, editor of the "Bande Mataram", a Hindu paper published in Paris, is one of the most important women who have been denied their liberty.  She was interned in Paris at the special request of the British Government'.

Intelligence Report on Indian Communists 1924Intelligence Report on Indian Communists -  British Library IOR/L/PJ/12/49 f.134 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In the 1920s and 1930s, surveillance of Indian activists continued.  Madame Cama appears in several of the files of Indian Political Intelligence, the branch of British Intelligence responsible for monitoring Indian nationalist in the UK, Europe and America, and some examples are given below in the suggestions for further reading. 

Intelligence Report on Indians in Europe Intelligence Report on Indians in Europe - British Library IOR/L/PJ/12/50 f.14 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Madame Cama's health had never fully recovered from her social work in 1897, and her work, combined with continual government hostility, strained it further.  As she wrote to the Russian political activist Maxim Gorky in 1912: 'All my time and energy are devoted to my country and her struggle'.  In November 1935, she returned to India, and died shortly afterwards in August 1936.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Pamphlets published by Madame Cama of a seditious nature and names of four Indians implicated in sedition, April-May 1915, shelfmark IOR/L/PS/11/91, P 1667/1915.

Indian agitators abroad; containing short accounts of the more important Indian political agitators who have visited Europe and America in recent years, and their sympathisers, compiled in the Criminal Intelligence Office, 1st edition, November 1911 (Simla: Government Monotype Press, 1911), shelfmark IOR/V/27/262/1.

Chowdhury, Bulu Roy, Madame Cama: a short life-sketch (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House, 1977), shelfmark Mss Eur F341/108.

Indian Political Intelligence files at British Library:
IOR/L/PJ/12/49: Indian Communist Party: intelligence reports, 1923-1924 - Madame Cama is mentioned in the papers at folios 134 and 187-190.
IOR/L/PJ/12/50: Indian Communist Party: intelligence reports, 1924-1925 - Madame Cama is mentioned in the papers at folios 12-16.
IOR/L/PJ/12/174: Activities and passport application of Mandayam P Tirumal Acharya, 1926-1933 - Madame Cama is mentioned at folio 12.
IOR/L/PJ/12/219: Activities of Indians and Afghans in Paris: activities, 1924-1925 - Madame Cama is mentioned in the papers at folios 10, 11 and 18.
IOR/L/PJ/12/667: M.I.5. B[lack].L[ist]. Volume XXI (Indian Volume), 1921 - Madame Cama is mentioned in the entry for Sirdar Singhji Revabhai Ranna on page 57.

Foreign Office papers regarding Madame Cama can be found at the UK National Archives, references FO 800/56B.

British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast):
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 23 August 1907.
India, 30 August 1907.
The Call (London), 01 February 1917.

The Open University, ‘Making Britain, Discover how South Asians shaped the nation, 1870-1950’.

Asians in Britain: 400 years of history, Rozina Visram (London: Pluto Press, 2002).

 

18 March 2022

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 3

Discussions about sending girls to New South Wales from the Madras Female Orphan Asylum took place throughout 1841 and 1842.  The Asylum drew up a list of girls willing to emigrate, with details of their ‘Character, Disposition, and Proficiency’.
• Caroline Davey – 13 years 11 months.  Generally quiet and obliging, not far advanced in learning.
• Mary Ann Cardwell – 13 years 7 months, and Caroline Smith – 14 years 11 months.  Both generally quick, but indifferent workers.
• Mary Watts – 15 years 2 months, and Ellen Tooner – 13 years 4 months.  Both generally quiet but not very good-tempered.

On 3 January 1843 the ship Duchess of Kent arrived in Sydney with these five girls travelling in steerage.  There were a number of convicts on board but no objection was raised because a ‘steady and respectable matron’ had been employed to look after the girls in case they might be ‘corrupted’.  Mrs Wooller accompanied the girls for a fee of £35, half paid in advance and half paid on arrival in Australia once the ship’s captain had confirmed that she had discharged her duties properly.  She had recently accompanied the family of Major Cortlandt Taylor from New South Wales to Madras and now wished to return home to Hobart Town.

Female Orphan School at ParramattaView of the Female Orphan School, near Parramatta, New South Wales by Joseph Lycett (1825) – image courtesy of State Library Victoria 

The girls were taken initially to the Female Orphan School near Parramatta, and the New South Wales authorities said a report on their ‘disposal’ would be sent after six months.  A letter from Sydney to Madras dated 26 April 1844 explained that the enclosed report from the school matron had been delayed because of a reluctance to give an unfavourable one.  It was said that the girls had been ‘kept in India too long, having apparently acquired confirmed habits of indolence’.  In future, no girls should be sent from Madras above the age of ten or eleven.  The girls’ wages when placed as domestic servants were £5 per annum, increasing by £1 each year to a maximum of £10.

• Caroline Davey – Placed on 7 August 1843 with Mrs Hallen at Prospect as a children’s maid.  Conduct good but sent back to school on 23 August because she had ringworm (not true).  Went in September to Mr Pearse, a farmer at Seven Hills.  Nothing heard of her since.
• Mary Ann Cardwell – Indolent at school, not troubling to learn anything.  Placed with Dr Bell of Windsor on 18 July 1843 as a children’s maid.  Nothing heard of her since.
• Caroline Smith – Sullen and idle.  Went to Mr Mills, schoolmaster at Parramatta, on 25 July 1843 as a children’s maid.  Conduct so bad that she was only kept there two months.  Then sent to Mr Buchanan, a clerk at North Shore, without wages.  Was returned again to the school with ‘a most disgraceful character’.
• Mary Watts – Very good conduct.  Went on 25 July 1843 to live with Dr Smith of 99th Regiment as children’s maid, but returned on 2 December after the baby died.  Went on 4 December to Mr Fletcher, shoemaker in George Street Sydney.
• Ellen Tooner – Still in the school, ‘the worst conducted Girl I ever met with’.  Would learn nothing even though great pains were taken with her.

Here the evidence from India about the girls’ lives  appears to end.  Australian archives might reveal what happened next to the children sent from Madras.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Library IOR/F/4/1855/78480 Papers regarding the administration of the Madras Military Female Orphan Asylum - impoverished state of the Orphanage funds - dilapidated state of the buildings - Madras Government grant an immediate subvention of 15,000 rupees from the interest on the Wooley Fund - question of the salaries of the chaplain and medical officer, etc (includes list of past and present girl pupils from 1829 to date, with particulars as to parentage, father's occupation, etc), 1838-1839.
British Library IOR/F/4/1855/78481 Proposal of John Sullivan that boy and girl pupils from the Madras Military Male and Female Orphan Asylums should be sent as apprentices to New South Wales - Madras Government forward the proposal to the New South Wales Government, 1838-1839.
British Library IOR/P/247/68 Madras Public Proceedings, pp.979-981 Consultation 1 March 1842, pp. 1041-1042 Consultation 8 March 1842.
British Library IOR/P/247/67 Madras Public Proceedings, pp.25-29, 563-565 Consultations January 1842.
British Library IOR/P/247/72 Madras Public Proceedings, p.4255 Consultation 9 August 1842.
British Library IOR/P/247/73 Madras Public Proceedings, pp. 4273-4274, 4534-4540 Consultations August 1842.
British Library IOR/P/248/13 Madras Public Proceedings, pp.1521-1524 Consultation 26 April 1844.

Trove newspapers e.g. Sydney Morning Herald 4 January 1843.
Findmypast for baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records.
FIBIS wiki.

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 1
Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 2

16 March 2022

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 2

On 22 February 1841 the first group of boys from the Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum arrived safely in New South Wales on board the Sesostris.  The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser wrote: ‘Seven youths, all of whom have been taught trades. have arrived from Madras, to the care of the Government of this Colony.  These youthful immigrants, all of whom are natives of Madras, are said to have been reared in one of the public Orphan Schools.  They promise to be excellent mechanics, and are very intelligent.  Those who have arrived are tailors, carpenters, and printers’.

View of Sydney from east side of coveNew South Wales - View of Sydney, from the east side of the cove by John Heaviside Clark (1810) BL flickr

The boys were kept at the Orphan School for two or three months so they could adjust to the climate before being apprenticed.  The New South Wales government promised that great care would be taken to find suitable masters for them, and the East India Company directors in London were keen for the Madras authorities to obtain reports from Australia on the boys.

A report on the Sesostris boys was sent in February 1844.
• James Marlow was apprenticed to Alexander Martin of the Cowpastures as a farmer.  He was generally well-behaved although somewhat sullen, and was becoming a useful worker.
• Christopher Connors, Samuel Hobart and John Harris were apprenticed as shoemakers to William Mackie, J. Fletcher and James Scott respectively.  All were diligent and well-behaved.
• William Bird was apprenticed as gardener to Henry Cox. a magistrate residing at Penrith.  Cox had no reason to be dissatisfied with William, who displayed ‘no symptom of vice in his disposition’.
• James Barry (named as John in the report) had been apprenticed to Captain G. B. Christmas as a miller who stated that the boy’s behaviour was very bad at first but now greatly improved.  His weak constitution and small size prevented him from being employed in the mill at present and he was on light work until he gained strength.
• James Mackin was apprenticed to Mr Urquhart as a coachbuilder.  His initial stubborn disposition had improved and he was making good progress.

In October 1842 the New South Wales government reported on the boys who had arrived in December 1841 in the British Sovereign (also called Royal Sovereign in the records).
• Matthew Thornhill and Edward Wallace had been apprenticed to the Government Printer in Sydney.  Both were doing well, especially Matthew who was already able to work as a compositor.  Edward was not so advanced so he was still attending the Protestant Parochial School of St James every morning.
• Matthew and James Bradshaw were apprenticed to Robert Dawson, a magistrate living four miles from Sydney.  Matthew was a gardener and James a house servant.  At first, Matthew had tried being a tailor but had not made much progress.  James had a skull fracture before arriving in Sydney and so a house job had seemed best for him.  Both boys were free from any vicious habits, but rather dull and indolent.  The Australians believed that their indolence could be attributed to early habits contracted in India.
• James Callaghan had poor sight so he had been kept in the Male Orphan School of New South Wales.  He was now considered fit for apprenticeship and would be placed once a suitable master was found.

Our next post will tell the story of the girl emigrants from the Madras Female Orphan Asylum.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records


Further reading:
British Library IOR/F/4/1855/78481 Proposal of John Sullivan that boy and girl pupils from the Madras Military Male and Female Orphan Asylums should be sent as apprentices to New South Wales - Madras Government forward the proposal to the New South Wales Government, 1838-1839.
British Library IOR/F/4/1916/82082 Seven boys of the Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum are at their own request sent to New South Wales to be apprenticed under the Government of that colony - the Madras Government provides them with a passage to Sydney, [1834]-1841.
British Library IOR/E/4/956 pp.798-802 Letter from London to Fort St George in the Public Department, 8 December 1841.
British Library IOR/E/4/958 pp.566-567 Letter from London to Fort St George in the Public Department , 21 September 1842.
British Library IOR/P/248/5 Madras Public Proceedings, pp.1911-1916 Consultation 13 June 1843.
Trove e.g. The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser 26 February 1841.
Findmypast for baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records.
FIBIS wiki.

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 1
Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 3

14 March 2022

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 1

In the late 1830s both the Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum and Madras Female Orphan Asylum were experiencing difficulty finding employment for children old enough to leave the institution.  The Madras Government approached the authorities in New South Wales outlining a scheme for sending children to be apprenticed there.  It was said that the Asylum pupils’ superior education and the care bestowed on their morals might make them a valuable acquisition to the colony, especially the girls.

South east view of Fort St George Madras - DaniellSouth east view of Fort St George, Madras by Thomas Daniell,  from Oriental Scenery. Twenty four views in Hindoostan,Tab.599.a.(2), plate VII  (1797) British Library Images Online Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The New South Wales authorities agreed on condition that the children would be at least twelve years of age and of ‘pure European descent’.  They were to be sent to Sydney free of charge and would be apprenticed in the same way as children from local orphan schools.  Apprenticeships lasted until 21 for males and until 21 or marriage for females.  Masters or mistresses had to provide sufficient and suitable food, clothing and bedding, and make payments into the Savings Bank of New South Wales which were handed to the apprentice, with accrued interest, at the end of their term.  When practicable, apprentices had to attend divine service at least once every Sunday.  Particular attention was to be given to the apprentice’s morals.  Justices were to investigate complaints about ill-treatment by masters, lack of provisions etc, as well as misdemeanours by apprentices.

The Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum compiled a list in August 1840 of seven boys willing to emigrate who met the criteria set by New South Wales.

• Samuel Hobart, aged 14 years 3 months, son of Matthew, Sergeant Major of Artillery and Ann.  He could read and was learning to write, cypher, and make shoes.
• James Marlow, aged 13 years 7 months, son of Edward, Private HM 45th Foot, and Catharine.  He was learning to read and write, and could make shoes.
• John Harris, aged 12 years and 7 months, son of Hugh, Sergeant HM 41st Foot, and Jane.  John could read, write and cypher well, and was employed at the Asylum Press as a printer.
• James McKin or MacKin, aged 13 years 7 months, son of Thomas, Private HM 48th Foot, and Mary.  He was able to read, write and cypher tolerably well.
• Christopher Connors, aged 12 years 6 months, son of Daniel, Private HM 54th Foot.
• William Bird, aged 12 years 5 months, son of William, Sergeant Major HM 54th Foot.
• James Barry, aged 12 years, son of Patrick, Gunner Veteran Battalion, and Anne.
Connors, Bird and Barry could all read, write and cypher well.

The terms of emigration and apprenticeship were explained carefully to these boys.  They arrived in Sydney in the Sesostris in February 1841.

Five more lads from the Asylum ‘anxious to emigrate’ took their passage in the British Sovereign (or Royal Sovereign) which arrived in Sydney in December 1841.

• Matthew Thornhill, born October 1827, son of Matthew, Commissariat Department, and Julia.
• Matthew and James Bradshaw, born 1827 and 1829, sons of Matthew, Private HM 41st Foot, and Ann.
• James Callaghan, born 1828, son of Patrick Callaghan, Hospital Sergeant, and Louisa.
• Edward Wallace.

Our next post will tell the story of what happened to these twelve boys when they arrived in New South Wales.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records


Further reading:
IOR/F/4/1855/78481 Proposal of John Sullivan that boy and girl pupils from the Madras Military Male and Female Orphan Asylums should be sent as apprentices to New South Wales - Madras Government forward the proposal to the New South Wales Government, 1838-1839.
IOR/F/4/1916/82082 Seven boys of the Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum are at their own request sent to New South Wales to be apprenticed under the Government of that colony - the Madras Government provides them with a passage to Sydney, [1834]-1841.
Findmypast for baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records.
Trove for Australian newspaper reports.
FIBIS wiki.

Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 2
Emigration of children from the Madras Orphan Asylums to New South Wales – Part 3

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