Herbert A. Stark

Hostages to India: The Life Story of the Anglo-Indian Race

Wherefore set thy mind
My race to know? The generations are
As of the leaves, so also of mankind.
As the leaves fall, now withering in the wind.
And others are put forth, and Spring descends.
Suck on the earth the race of men we find;
Each in his order a set time attends;
One generation rises, and another ends.
— The Iliad (Worsley.)


The Chapters brought together in this volume originally appeared in The Anglo-Indian Citizen. They are published in book form in the hope that the recital of the life-history of the Anglo-Indian Race will not only remove the uninformed prejudice which has subjected its members to unmerited disparagement, but also confirm in them a proper pride in the important part they have played in the building of the British Empire in India, and inspire them to live up to the traditions of their past. They are in truth the Hostages whom the British Nation has given to the peoples of India.

1st December, 1926.

Herbert A. Stark

Chapter I

Section 1 — The Portuguese Period

Blue o’er the silver flood Malabrias mountains gleam:
The sailors on the main-top’s airy round,
“Land! Land!” aloud, with waving hands, resound:
Aloud the pilot of Melinda cries.
Behold, O Chief, the shores of India rise!”
Lusiad, Book VI.

It was the birthday of a new era when Vasco Da Gama, the intrepid Portuguese navigator, in 1497 weighed anchor in the turgid waters of the Tagus to find a sea-path to India. The story is briefly told. He weathered the Cape of Good Hope: kept within sight of the African Coast up to Melinda: struck across the Indian Ocean, and landed at Calicut on the Malabar Coast in May, 1498. He established friendly relations with the Zamorin of that place, and returned home with a rich cargo of spices and precious stones. Other expeditions to India followed. Wealth continued to stream into Lisbon. Portuguese agencies were established. Patches of territory were acquired. Within ten years of 1500 there was at Diu a Portuguese Governor — the great Alfonso d’Albuquerque.

This sagacious statesman saw the necessity for consolidating his Royal Master’s Indian possessions, preferably by peaceful measures. Unlike the Teutonic and Slavonic stocks, the Romance nations of Europe have always evinced a singular readiness to amalgamate with whatever human race they have been brought into contact. To his nation, in their own land familiar for centuries with the spectacle of their Moorish Muhammadan rulers taking to themselves Christian wives from Portuguese homes, there was nothing revolting in the idea of intermarrying with the indigenous people of India. He, accordingly, embarked on the policy of encouraging his compatriots to marry native women. Many of the brides were the widows and dependents of Muhammadans whom the Portuguese had slain in battle. Albuquerque himself presided at their weddings, and he gave dowries to those who married as he dictated. In a lengthy Despatch, dated the 1st April, 1512, he submitted to King Manoel a glowing account of the success of his measures to consolidate Portuguese power in India; and in The Commentaries we read:— “Those who desired to marry were so numerous that Alfonso could hardy grant their requests, for he did not give permission to marry except to men of approved character. But in order to favour this work, as it was entirely his own idea, and also because they were men of good character, and had deserved by their good services that this privilege should be granted to them, he extended the permission to marry far beyond the powers that had been assigned by King Manoel, for the women with whom they married were the daughters of the principal men of the land . . . . He would not suffer any of the women to be enslaved, . . . and he divided among the married ones the lands, houses, cattle and everything else there was, to give them a start in life. And if the women whom he thus gave in marriage asked for the houses which had been in possession of their fathers or their husbands, he ordered that these should be so given to them, and therein they found many jewels and gold pieces which had been hidden underground and abandoned when the city had been captured.”

It is not difficult to trace the sources from which Albuquerque received the suggestion that intermarriage with the natives of India was a simple and effective way of securing a national advantage. He probably knew that the Romans had been accustomed to protect and strengthen the confines of their Empire by quartering in newly acquired lands Roman soldiers, so that they might raise a mixed population which would be loyal to the home of their fathers, and ward off attacks from the barbarian tribes beyond the frontiers. But he had no need to take his policy from a remote past. He had been witness to what had happened in Portugal itself quite recently. King John II (1481-95) had had designs of penetrating into Northern Africa, and his agents had been instructed to bring back with them natives of the lands which they had explored, not only as valuable merchandise, but also as a means of learning their language and thereby improving the prospects of trading with the African coast lands. In a short time enterprising merchants, bent on winning some of the wealth of the African Continent, began to marry their captives, learn their language, establish connections through them, and unlock the secret of the localities where different articles of trade were to be obtained.

If Alfonso was actuated by these considerations, there was another and a more convincing argument why the practice of Portuguese men marrying Indian women should be fostered. Trade was not the only object for which they had come so far East. They had been charged to be missionaries of the Christian Gospel. For this reason their merchant ships bore to the shores of Hindustan not only operators of the counting house and market-place, but also cowled monks and tonsured priests. While these were evangelising the people, mixed marriages would by a natural process augment the Christian population, and afford a centre from which Christianity would spread. From the start Christian mothers were provided, for no Indian woman was given in marriage to a Portuguese unless she had been admitted into the Church by the rite of Holy Baptism. Thus Albuquerque’s policy of colonisation had religious as well as secular support. The scheme seemed to have no flaw, and great were the expectations formed of it. But there was a miscalculation. The inexorable law of action and reaction had been overlooked. From the moment of their baptism, the Indian wives suffered the inexpressively severe penalty of being put out of caste by their kinsfolk, who on their part smarted under the stigma of being related to social derelicts. The wronged families brooded over the disgrace that had overtaken them, and this bred rancour in their hearts against the Portuguese to whom they owed their degradation. The atmosphere thus engendered blighted the prospects of Portuguese trade, and embitterment developed into one of the causes which ultimately brought to an end Portuguese hopes of domination in India.

The responsibility imposed upon the Portuguese by mixed marriages was greater than they had anticipated. Through them they incurred the moral obligation of maintaining the widows and orphans of their soldiers. For the youths of mixed blood there were no avenues of employment except in the trading houses of their fathers, or as sepoys in the militia. They had neither lands nor cattle; money nor craft. Being Christians, they and their widowed mothers were ostracised by their Indian relatives. No Indian would buy or sell with them. Their difficulties increased as Portuguese prosperity declined, and in the last days of their patrons they existed on a system of doles — doles which eventually ceased.

It is not necessary here to trace to all its causes the failure of the Portuguese to establish themselves permanently in India. Some have been mentioned; but another of them was the arrival of the Dutch and the English in the opening years of the seventeenth century. The crisis came when the Portuguese were compelled to evacuate Goa, and to abandon their other possessions. Their mainstay gone, the Luso-Indians were plunged into a sea of desolation and destitution. Confronted by lack of patrons, lack of friends, lack of agricultural facilities, and the lack of every resource, they rapidly sank in the social scale, and in the space of two centuries the majority of them have reverted to Indian stocks. Mr. T. G. Clarke, at one time Senior Magistrate of Madras, dwelling on this circumstance says “They have long since been absorbed with the natives of the country. There is scarcely one to be found that can now trace his genealogy to an European Portuguese. This can be attributed only to the original descendants having formed connections with native women, and their subsequent intermarriages — hence their deterioration and amalgamation with the natives. There are hundreds, if not thousands, who still retain the names of their original progenitors; but beyond the assumption of European garb, it is impossible to distinguish them” from the indigenous Indian. Writing on the same subject, Sir W. W. Hunter remarks “the lofty names of Albuquerque and De Silva and De Souza are borne by kitchen boys and cooks.” This may in general terms be true in major part of the Indo-Portuguese of the Madras and Bombay Presidencies and of the south eastern areas of Bengal. But in cities like Calcutta there are Portuguese families that retain their European characteristics, and are eminently respectable citizens. Not more than half a century ago there were among them prosperous merchants and prominent public men. And even though many of the older and more wealthy Indo-Portuguese families may have died out or lost their identity, the memory of them survives in several of the larger local charities, and in the churches which their ancestors built in the city of Calcutta and elsewhere. In our day the Indo-Portuguese population has been fictitiously argumented by the accretion of Indian Christians who have assumed Portuguese names.

Section 2 — The Dutch Period

Brief reference has been made to the arrival of the Dutch as one of the causes that contributed to the decline of Portuguese prosperity in India. The enterprise of the East India Company from Holland was confined mainly to the islands of the Eastern Archipelago — to the islands of Java, Borneo, etc., and Ceylon. The footing they gained in India itself was comparatively brief, and left no lasting impress such as it has in Ceylon. There was a time when some families of Dutch descent were to be found in Pulicat on the Coromandel Coast. But when that settlement was annexed by the British, most of the families emigrated to Batavia. Others have died out, and it would to-day be difficult to find at Pulicat any who claim Dutch origin. The Dutch established themselves in Ceylon, and flourished there until the island was wrested from them by the British in 1803. Their descendants of mixed blood in Ceylon are known as Burghers, and they have played an important and prominent part in the public administration of that island from the time it has been a British possession. They did not experience the adverse conditions under which the Indo-Portuguese struggled during and after the days of Portuguese prosperity in India. From the commencement of their history as a race, they have filled an important place in the commercial, social and economic life of the island, where they have been described as “the wheels that work the government.” Strictly speaking their history does not belong to India. But in passing it may be remarked that there are indications that their former prosperity and political standing are waning under the advance of education and the political enlightenment of their Tamil and Singhalese fellow-countrymen. Unless they maintain a high level of education and engage more extensively in trade, commerce and industries, it is not likely that they will retain their former status in competition with the native inhabitants of Ceylon. There are indications that they are conscious of the altered circumstances in which they live, and that they are determined to face the emergencies of the hour.

Chapter II

The Early British Period

Go, call thy sons: instruct them what a debt
They owe their ancestors; and make them swear
To repay it, by transmitting down entire
Those sacred rights to which themselves were born.
Mark Akenside

As is known to every one, the stages by which the English obtained a footing in India were fortuitous and unpremeditated. At first they landed merely as traders at an Indian port; presented complimentary gifts to local potentates; made their purchases; and spread their sails for the homeward voyage. Not a very large number of vessels was engaged in the traffic, and it was hardly possible for the same ship to revisit India within eighteen months. As the business of the East India Company began to expand, and friendly relations with Indian rajas or nawabs were established, instructions were left with agents as to what commodities of export were to be collected for purchase against the next visit. Obviously one of the earliest obstacles to be overcome was in the matter of the language through which business had to be negotiated.

Persian was the official language, but the sway of the House of Barbar never extended effectively into the Deccan, and was never real south of the Vindhya mountains. Moreover, Persian was not the vernacular of the trading and industrial classes, whose mother tongue was different in the several parts of the country. English crews knew none of the languages spoken in India, and the Indians had no knowledge of English. The Portuguese had already been trading with the land for over a century, and there were Indians here and there who had a working knowledge of Portuguese. It might have served as a medium of communication. But it was neither a wise nor a safe policy for the English at that early date to invite complications with the Portuguese by carrying on trade at places where the Lusitanians had already formed business connections. Some other solution of the difficulty had to be discovered, and it was found in the fact that the British had made early settlements at Gombroon (Bunder Abbas), a port to Shiraz on the northern shore of the Gulf of Ormuz. Here they attached to themselves Armenians who naturally were acquainted with the Persian language, and who were at the time themselves engaged in trading with India. The East India Company had been permitted by the Emperor Jehangir in 1612 to erect a factory at Surat, which now became their head-quarters. In India itself there were Armenians, some of whom were descended from Thomas Cana, who in 780 A.D. had landed on the Malabar Coast, and others of whom, freed from Turkish bondage by Shah Abbas, had settled at Cranganore and Angamale, at which centres they were carrying on a profitable trade for their Persian master. In this Christian race of foreigners to India, the English found a class well suited to be intermediaries by reason of their being acquainted with the Persian language — the language essential for negotiations with the Mughal Court; familiar with the local vernaculars current in the market places; conversant with the prices of goods, and the localities where they were to be obtained. Thus, from Surat and Gujarat the Armenians accompanied the British to Benares and Patna. The more the influence of the astute Armenian agents grew with the Court at Delhi or Agra, the better was it for the enterprise of the English. And their connection with the East India Company, whose enlarging business began to attract the attention of the Great Mughal, was utilised by Armenians in obtaining important indulgences for themselves. The relationship was obviously of mutual advantage. For wherever the Company opened a new factory, there the Armenians found a fresh opportunity of increasing their own prosperity.

In course of time factories had sprung up at several places. At first these were mere magnified huts erected for the storage of cargoes awaiting shipment, or of consignments to be sold. The money and commodities lying in them represented wealth which presently attracted the cupidity of bandits and outlaws, and of freebooters like the Marathas and Pindaris. It was imperative that the factories should be rendered capable of being effectively defended, and the Mughal Emperor accordingly granted permission for buildings of a more permanent character to be erected, and to be protected by rude fortifications on which guns were to be mounted. British ships brought out men to garrison the factories, and also to take up residence in them for the better organisation and manipulation of an expanding trade.

Let us reconstruct a Company factory. In the centre was a masonry warehouse divided into rooms in which were stored the commodities of export and import. Certain of the outer rooms were utilised for the purposes of an office, and in others resided the Factor in charge. It was fenced in by rude ramparts on which were mounted a few antiquated cannon which were discharged by the application of a fusee to the touch-hole. Within the enclosure was a miniature arsenal and armoury, as well as enlarged hovels dignified by the name of barracks. They were frequently cabins constructed in the earthworks of the rampart. While the soldiers occupied these “barracks,” their wives and children lived in the groups of huts provided for them beyond the glacis. In times of danger they came into the “fort” for refuge, but at other times they and the soldiery were engaged in bringing trade into the factory, superintending weighments, and directing the loading or unloading of cargo.

The factory which had been established at Madras in 1639 was so favourably situated for trade that it fast grew into the largest and most important of the Company’s settlements. It soon became apparent that it was insufficiently garrisoned, and as Portuguese ascendency was on the decline, the settlers and half-trained soldiery at St. Thome were taken into service as mercenaries. They were mostly of mixed descent, and were known in Madras as Topasses and in Bengal as Firinghees1. They came over with their families, and with them took up residence within the fort. The British factors, writers and soldiers — the few of them that there were — cut off from the society of women of their own race, began to cultivate the society of their Portuguese neighbours. Friendships sprang up which terminated in matrimony — for given an opportunity of marrying into a Christian family, the Britisher had no inclination to take for his mate an Indian woman. But when it was found that several of the newly-wedded British soldiers and writers were changing over to the religion of their wives, and that their children were being baptised into the Roman Church, the people in the homeland shook their heads disapprovingly. The more bigotted of them began to protest. England was at the time a hot bed of Catholic hate. Kindled by the Spanish Invasion, fanned by the Reformation, it had waxed stronger on the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, and reached to a white heat when inflammed by the Puritanic iconoclasm of Cromwell and his Ironsides. The Court of Directors were accused of secretly undermining the Established Church, and the old cry was raised “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” Its echoes were caught up in Madras, and a petition was presented to Mr. Chambers, the President, praying that all Portuguese women and children should be ordered to take up residence outside the precincts of the fort so that intermarriages might be discouraged. Mr. Chambers replied that if he adopted such a measure the Portuguese mercenaries would resign in a body, and leave the settlement unprotected. He therefore declined to accede to the wishes of the petitioners.

It is generally the case that, given time, some problems solve themselves. By intermarriages with British soldiers and writers the Portuguese population of Madras eventually was so drained of its womanhood, that presently there were few wives obtainable from that source for the new arrivals who came out in ever increasing numbers to keep pace with the rapid growth of Madras. Indeed, the Fort had become too small to accommodate all the soldiers on the establishment, and many of them were compelled to live in the native quarter of the town. It thus came about that marriages with Indian women increased in proportion as marriages with Portuguese women decreased. The Court of Directors, finding no way out of the situation, resolved to face it, and on the 8th April, 1687, thus addressed the President of Madras:— “The marriage of our soldiers to the native women of Fort St. George is a matter of such consequence to posterity that we shall be content to encourage it with some expense, and have been thinking for the future to appoint a pagoda to be paid to the mother of any child, that shall hereafter be born of any such future marriage, upon the day the child is christened, if you think this small encouragement will increase the number of such marriages.” The offer of the Directors was accepted and brought into effect. By it the British made themselves directly responsible for the results of a deliberate policy of bringing into being a mixed population — and they cannot, and surely will not, in these days repudiate the claims of their Hostages to India to legislation that will effectively guarantee their future in this country.

Chapter III

The Pioneer Englishman and His Indian Wife

I am a man More sinned against than sinning.
King Lear

As has been said, in the earlier years of John Company there were exceedingly few Englishwomen in India. One can well imagine the monotony of life and the tedium of the day, at even a large Settlement like Madras, where the one thing to look forward to was the weekly Sunday dinner for the “upper ten,” at the President’s table —

“There will we talk of bygone times.
Send back our thoughts to western climes,
And deem the distant home is near.
And wish the absent loved ones here.”

Mandelslo, the celebrated Italian traveller, describes how he was a guest at one of these banquets, and tells of the pathetic “hush” which fell after dinner when the President rose to propose to the oft-times home-sick exiles the never-omitted toast — “Our absent wives — God bless them!” After all, the men who first came out in the service of the East India Company were human, and drawn from the highest as well as the lowest grades of English society. It would be falsifying history to pretend that they were one and all superior moral beings. Sir Thomas Roe, who in 1615 came to the Court of the Emperor Jehangir as ambassador of King James the First, describes some of the characters to be found among the English pioneers — “A young gentleman about twenty years old, the brother of a Baron of England, being very unruly at home, and so many others that have been well born, when their friends knew not what to do with them, have been sent to East-India, that they might make their own grave in the sea, in their passage thither: or else have graves made for them in the Indian shores when they come there.” A writer in the Calcutta Review (1845) says “They who came hither were often desperate adventurers, whom England, in the emphatic language of Scripture, had spued out; men who sought the golden shores of the East to repair their broken fortunes, to bury in oblivion a sullied name, or to wring with lawless hand, from the weak and unsuspecting, wealth which they had not the character or capacity to obtain by honest industry at home. They cheated; they gambled; they drank; they revelled in all kinds of debauchery.” In The English in India (London, 1828) fuller details are given:— “His doings on these far-off shores were unknown to his countrymen in England; perchance there may have been a parent, or a brother, or a friend, in whose eyes the adventurer might desire to wear a fair aspect: but in India he was as far beyond the observation of that parent, or brother, or friend, as though he dwelt on another planet. There were, in truth, no outward motives to preserve morality of conduct, or even decency of demeanour. From the moment of their landing upon the shores of India, the first settlers cast off all those bonds which had restrained them in their native villages; they regarded themselves as privileged beings — privileged to violate all the decencies of life. . . . Though associates in vice — linked together by a common bond of rapacity — they pursued one another with desperate malice, and, though few in number, there was among them no unity, except an unity in crime. Though of old, as at the present time, it was too much the fashion to send the more violent and intractable younger members of a family to some distant colony, there to place them wholly beyond the reach of such chances of improvement as home-example ever presents, it would be unjust to say that all who came to these shores were the refuse of English respectability. They left a country of checks — checks imposed not only by civil polity but by the more stringent code of public opinion — to seek a country where no checks existed — what wonder then that they fell?. . . . Where there is flesh and blood there must be disease — moral as well as physical.”

The general stamp of man coming out to India hardly improved even up to the time of Clive and Warren Hastings. Clive gambled, and did worse. Says a writer in The Calcutta Review, “ Hastings himself, whatever may have been his character as a political ruler, had no great title to our admiration as a moral man. He was living for years with the wife of another, and when the convenient laws of a foreign land, deriving no sanction from Christianity, formally severed the bond which had long been practically disregarded, the Governor-General had the execrably bad taste to celebrate his marriage with the elegant adulteress with open display and festal rejoicing. What was to be expected from the body of Society, when the head was thus morally diseased?” This was during the reigns of George I and George II, and the pages of contemporary writers give us a graphic picture of the low ehb at which British morality ran in England itself after the high flood of Puritanic austerity in the days of the Commonwealth. There would seem to have been but little to choose between the Englishmen who came out to India in the Service of the East India Company, and those who stayed at home to be enriched by its princely dividends. As Burke pithily put it, There is nothing worse in the boys we send to India, than in the boys we are whipping at school, or whom we see trailing over a pike, or bending over the desk at home.” Very few Anglo-Indian families of this period can now be alive; but, however that may be, it is clear the Anglo-Indian who lived in India and the Britisher who lived in England in the time of the First and Second Georges, were equally descended from the same moral or immoral stock. But the national life both in India and England was purified in the reign of George III through the purging of British society while he was on the throne.

It has already been stated, that the Englishman coming out to India in the days of which we are dealing, was completely cut off from his homeland. Moreover, he had small prospect of returning to it. He was deprived of the companionship of the women of his race, for the regulations of the East India Company forbade English women sharing the risks and privations of their men. The exiles could hardly be expected to make no home for themselves in a foreign clime simply because their own women-folk and parish priests were not to be found in it. They accordingly solaced themselves by taking for their partners in life the women of the land; and they were in a position to pick the best. Then too, not infrequently India women at nightfall visited the battle field to minister to the wounded and dying, and there were some who would not pass by a white man, because he was a white man. What more natural then that the British soldier or officer married the dusky village maid who had staunched his wound or moistened his parched lips?

While this is true, undoubtedly concubinage was practised especially in the earlier years of the Company’s history. But both the temporary wife and her children by an Englishman in the humbler walks of life, were abandoned or left destitute on death, and merged into and became lost in the Indian population.2 On the whole, the experience of the Portuguese seems to have taught the British the wholesome lesson that it was not safe to tamper with the homes of the people with whom they were trading. It would recoil on the prosperity of the Company’s business, and might even jeopardise their lives were they to attempt to carry off Indian women wholesale as the Romans had once done the daughters of their Sabine neighbours. They, therefore, adopted the course of obtaining their wives by treaty with Indian acquaintances, or from among the widows and females left on the battlefield — for it was customary, among the Muhammadans in particular, for a soldier’s wife or slave-girl to accompany him on the march and be among the camp- followers.3 The women were generally baptised, and not infrequently the marriage was performed in accordance with the civic customs of the woman’s caste.

Such marriages were by common consent considered entirely respectable, and they continued to be contracted, although with decreasing frequency, until the Renewal of the Company’s Charter in 1833, when the former restrictions as to residence in India except by servants of the Company were withdrawn, and when the opening of the overland route via the Suez Canal made voyaging to India less expensive and tedious; with the result that there was a great influx of Englishmen and women into the country. The British husband found it easier to teach his Indian wife the English language than himself to learn her vernacular; and so the English language, English customs, and English practices became the predominant tone of his home and children. When these were born, their births were notified, and they were christened. These mixed marriages so permeated English society in Calcutta, that in Daniel’s pictures may be seen promenading the Esplanade an Englishman sharing his umbrella with his Indian spouse, or walking by the side of her palki — taking the air, or on their way to make a social call. Job Charnock, the Founder of Calcutta, married a Hindu widow whom he rescued from the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. Col. William Linnaeus Gardner, an ancestor of the Gardner family now in the British Peerage, and Hyder Young Hearsay, married two sisters, the grand-daughters of the Nawab of Cambay, and the adopted daughters of the Mughal Emperor. Gardner being of a chivalrous and ardent character, was naturally sensitive to comments on his marriage, and thus wrote in the Mufassil Ukhbar of March, 1835:— “I fear I must divest my marriage with Her Highness the Begum of great part of its romantic attraction, by confessing that the young Begum was only thirteen years of age when I first applied for and received her mother’s consent, and which probably saved both our lives. Allow me to assure you, on the very best authority, that a Moslem lady’s marriage with a Christian by a Kazi is as legal in this country as if the ceremony had been performed by the Bishop of Calcutta, a point lately settled by my son’s marriage with the niece of the Emperor, the Nawab Mulka Humanee Begum. The respectability of the females of my family amongst the natives of Hindustan has been settled by the Emperor many years ago, he having adopted my wife as his daughter, a ceremony satisfactorily repeated by the Queen on a visit to my own house at Delhi. My only daughter died in 1804, and my grand-daughters, by the particular desire of their grand-mother are Christians. It was an act of her own, as, by the marriage agreement, the daughters were to be brought up in the religion of their mother, and the sons in that of your very obedient servant, William Linnaeus Gardner.”

The following pathetic story, taken from The Adventurer in the Punjab (1826-27), admirably illustrates the deep and lasting affection which an English husband could conceive for his Indian wife. “Major H. was an officer in the King’s service, who served in the Madras Presidency, something like thirty or forty years ago. He became attached to a native lady, named Fyzoo; never I believe regarded her with any but honourable views, and married her. She bore him three children (one of whom is now an officer in the army), and died, leaving the youngest an infant, who bore her mother’s name. Major H. quitted India upon the death of his wife, and brought her remains with him to England in a leaden coffin. Shortly after his arrival, the little Fyzoo died, and her father had her remains in the same manner preserved.”

“Every circumstance in Major H.’s story was peculiar, and took great hold of my imagination, when, in my early youth, I came from a remote part of Surrey where he resided. It was an old brick house . . . . The gate used to be opened by an old woman whose appearance was enough to rouse all sorts of strange ideas in the mind of an urchin from the country. She had been the nurse of the little Fyzoo, and had in that capacity attended her charge to England . . . . I well remember her shrivelled black face, her white hair, and emaciated form (with her Indian dress that was in itself a curiosity in my young eyes) and her broken English. I believe Major H. was never seen outside the walls of his garden, and he had so cut himself off from his relations and friends, that it was not generally known that in that old house he kept enshrined the bodies of his wife and daughter.”

Chapter IV

Junior Partners

I have felt with my native land, I am one with my kind,
I embrace the purpose of God, and the doom assign’d.

The authorities of the East India Company were not slow to recognise and appreciate the advantages to the Company from the alliances formed by their servants with Indian women. The children grew up in attachment to, and in dependence upon, the nation of their fathers. Their mothers having been cast out by their Indian relatives, the children formed the beginnings of a new race standing in detachment from the people of the soil, and separated from them by speech, religion, dress, customs and habits — by those fundamentals which go to constitute nationality. Their interests were identified with the prospects of the East India Company, and their prosperity depended upon the permanency of its footing in the country. They were reared in an atmosphere of trade; and their knowledge of the prevailing vernaculars, and local conditions, of Indian customs and modes of thinking, of natural products and manufactures, of market places and facilities of transport, rendered them an invaluable asset to those whose chief concern was with the wealth to be derived from a lucrative trade. The fact of a home in India, reconciled the British soldier and factor to his lot in life, and weaned him from a natural desire to return to his native land. Contented servants, with interests vested in a land to which they had given hostages, were well worth encouraging. And so the Board of Directors decided upon stimulating the tendency of their humbler servants to make their permanent abode in India, by ruling an allowance of Rs. 5 a month for every child born to a soldier in the ranks. By now the Company had factories or settlements at Surat, Masulipatam, Casimbazar, Pulicat, Armagaon, Pipli, Madras, Hughli, Patna, Bombay, Calcutta, and minor places.

There were, however, other European nations seeking a harvest of riches in India. British rivalry with the Portuguese and Dutch threatened to spread to the French who had arrived in Cochin in 1667. Moreover, Sivaji, the Maratha Chieftain, was proving a thorn in the side of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. His followers had sacked and pillaged Surat, and had exacted chaut and surdesh-mukhi in the course of their many lightning forays and raids. In the Spanish Netherlands King William III was engaged in a war with the French. There had been heavy mortality among the soldiers sent out to India. It was imperative at the same time that British soldiers should be found to defend the British settlements in this country. Recourse therefore was had to the young men who were locally available — the sons of Britishers by Indian wives. These were bound by a common bond of interest to the Company in which their fathers served. They could find safety only hy promoting its prosperity and consolidation. They stood to gain or lose with their fathers. It was their homes that they had to aid their fathers in protecting against bandits and outlaws, against invading armies and harassing Marathas. Those of them that had attained to manhood were of greater value than imported soldiers and writers. They cost nothing to bring out to India. They were acclimatised, and did not readily fall a prey to the inclemencies of an Indian sky. They were not under the necessity of learning the vernaculars, and they well understood the commercial morality and practices obtaining in the markets. They were familiar with the details of business, the class of goods in demand by Indians, and the time to buy and sell. Nor was this all. Their trading instincts had been quickened and given an edge amid the sudden call to arms, the dashing onslaught, the desperate defence. Bred with Spartan contempt for luxury, inured by the vicissitudes that the Company’s fortunes experienced, bound by ties of blood and speech and creed to all that was British in them, as they grew in years and increased in numbers they elbowed out the Armenians as commercial agents and intermediaries in time of peace, and they reinforced the Company’s forces, such as they were, in time of war. They thus permitted economies in expenditure which went to augment the dividends of shareholders in Leadenhall Street. They became the important wheels, the cranks, and pivots in the machinery of the Company’s operations. The value set on them gained for them considerate and encouraging treatment. The first arrivals in the Company’s service had laid the foundations of a trade which necessitated protection during its infancy, local labour during its expansion, and defence by arms during its consolidation. It received all three from its India-born sons. But for the presence in India of successive generations of those sprung from British fathers and Indian mothers, it may well he questioned whether in India England would ever have passed from the market place to the forum, from the factory to the council chamber, from merchandise to empire, from Company to Crown.

As years rolled on the practice of marrying Indian wives fell into disrepute, for the necessity for it had disappeared. The new arrival could always wed a girl of mixed parentage, and it became customary for him to do so. When he had resort to a woman of the country he offended the community to which he belonged, and wronged British society in India by not providing a home to an Anglo-Indian female who was precluded from marrying an Indian husband. In revolt against his conduct his comrades practically ostracised him. Public opinion held that when the occasion for intermarriage with Indians had disappeared, those who had recourse to it forfeited all claim to condonation of a wanton outrage on society. Unfortunately, it was not they who paid the penalty, so much as their hapless children. Nevertheless, there were still those who persisted in defying conventions by finding for themselves the conveniences of married life without marrying. And what was worse, these were generally the higher officials and more wealthy merchants and planters who moved in circles higher than the soldier class. These gentlemen by rank, were a law unto themselves. Averse to lowering their social status by marrying an Indian or a girl of mixed blood, they were not above setting up a seraglio. On the other hand, there were also those who, having the instincts of the true Englishmen, had the moral courage to rise superior to popular prejudice, and they wedded women of respectable and even royal Indian families. Their sons were invariably sent to England for their education, and usually returned to India as Covenanted Servants or Commissioned Officers on the Company’s civil and military establishments. Their daughters commonly married gentlemen holding equal rank with their fathers, and retired to England with them. Two or three instances may be mentioned. Job Charnock, the founder of Calcutta, had three daughters by his Hindu wife, whom he snatched from the flames of her deceased husband’s funeral pyre. Mary married Sir Eyre Coote, next successor but one to Job, and the founder of Fort William in the Presidency of Bengal. He built the Charnock Mausoleum, Calcutta. Elizabeth married William Bowridge. She went to England in 1715, but was again in Calcutta within two years of the Black Hole. Mary and Elizabeth lie in St. John’s Churchyard, Calcutta. Katherine married Jonathan White. Again, Colonel Kennedy married a princess of a Rajput State, and one of their daughters was the first wife of General Abraham Roberts, father of Lord Roberts, at one time Commander-in-Chief in India. Their son, half-brother of Lord Roberts, was in one of the Burma Services. Moreover, there have been instances in which the Governor-General and Lieutenant-Governors of Provinces have had Anglo-Indian relatives in the country.

In dealing with the ultimate fate of the descendants of the Portuguese in India, it was observed that most of them have reverted to their original Indian stock. The descendants of the British in India have sorted out into three distinct groups. The first comprises those who were sent to England for their education and never returned to India, or who on retirement from service in India settled down in England. These have gradually been absorbed into the native population of England, and are no longer distinguishable from the Britisher. The second group continues in India as a distinct race. The third is being, or has been, absorbed into the Indian Christian population. In general terms it may be said that the Anglo-Indians of the period lying between 1600 and 1775 have merged either into the British or Indian peoples. Those of the years following 1775 are divided perhaps equally into three sections — (1) those who have merged or are merging into the British nation; {2) those who have merged or are merging into the Indian nations; (3) and those who exist as the Anglo-Indian race of to-day. As a larger and larger number of Anglo-Indians settle down in Britain, or are being welded with the Indian populace through the economic pressure of these days, the expectation is that, in course of time, the true Anglo-Indian population of India will be exceedingly small. Already there are more Anglo-Indians in England than there are in some Indian Provinces.

Chapter V

Days of Prosperity

All good things have not kept aloof,
Nor wandered into other ways.

Possibly warned by the reaction which was overtalang Portuguese enterprise in the East as a result of their policy of Christianising the people with whom they came into contact, and perhaps cautioned by the perils and uncertainties of their own commercial undertakings, the East India Company neither sought for, nor received, in their Charter of 31st December, 1599, sanction to carry clergymen on their ships, or provide them to the Settlements. Thus for the greater part of a hundred years the British in India had to do without the ministrations of an English priesthood. But in palliation it may be said that it was an injunction on the Chief of a factory that he should assemble his colleagues for Divine Worship on the Sabbath, and perform the rites of marriage, baptism and burial. Later on, senior officers in outlying Districts were authorised to give persons in marriage. Early misgivings regarding the wisdom and expediency of maintaining clergy on their establishments having been removed in the light ot later experience, the Charter conferred upon the East India Company by King William III in 1698, provided for the spiritual needs of the Company’s servants. It stipulated that “in every garrison and superior factory there shall be set apart a decent and convenient place for Divine Service only: one minister shall be constantly maintained in every such place: and every ship of 500 tons and upwards sent by the Company to the East Indies shall carry a chaplain approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London.” The salary of the Chaplain was only £50 per annum, but he was not precluded from augmenting this trifling sum by engaging in trade on his own account. The Company did not favour the new obligation to maintain clergymen, and it has been observed that it is remarkable how many of the Company’s ships were registered at 499 tons. Of the clergymen who came out on £50 a year, not a few neglected their flocks to enrich themselves by the lure of the market place.

The life and conversation in India of those who bore its name, had hitherto done but little credit to Christianity. It was entirely due to the piety of the few God-fearing men and women in the settlements and factories that the national religion had survived even in outward profession. It had been they, and the “war-broken soldier” now on pension, who had taught the children the elements of religion, reading, writing and arithmetic, and had thereby enabled them to fill the clerical posts in the Company’s business houses and army. A realistic picture of a school conducted by an old pensioner is given by a writer in one of the earlier numbers of The Calcutta Review. — “Let us contemplate him, seated in an old-fashioned chair, with his legs resting on a cane morah. A long pipe, his constant companion, projects from his mouth. A pair of loose pyjamas and a charkana banian keep him within the pale of society, and preserve him cool in the trying, hot climate of this clime. His rattan — his sceptre — is in his hand; and the boys are seated on stools, or little morahs, before his pedagogue majesty. They have already read three chapters of the Bible, and have got over the proper names without much spelling; they have written their copies — small, round text, and large hand; they have repeated a column of Entick’s Dictionary with only two mistakes; and are now employed in working Compound Division, and soon expect to arrive at the Rule of Three. Some of the lads’ eyes are red with weeping, and others expect to have a taste of the ferule. The partner of the pensioner’s days is seated on a low Dinapore matronly chair, picking vegetables, and preparing the ingredients for her coming dinner. It strikes twelve o’clock; and the schoolmaster shakes himself. Presently the boys bestir themselves; and for the day the school is broken up.”4 Rudimentary and shallow as was the education imparted at such a school, it was something to be thankful for, especially when it is remembered that in England itself illiteracy was the order of the day with the social grades from which the soldiery was drawn. Such as it was, it provided the Company with a useful class of writers and soldiers with at least some degree of literacy.

As the Company’s factories multiplied in number, and in places attained the respectable proportions of British settlements, larger and larger forces were required to protect them and the circumjacent territories. The more soldiers were imported the larger did the Anglo-Indian Community grow by marriages with girls of mixed or pure Indian parentage. It was not long before the new class of British citizen attained a numerical superiority over the imported Britisher in the country. This, however, was regarded as bringing strength to the Company by providing a field from which to recruit for its army. Bound to the British by the indissoluble bonds of kinship, interdependence, and unity of interests; sharing in their hazards and alarms; like them precluded from amalgamating with the natives of the soil or from entering into compacts with them; and identified with their relatives from over the seas, they had no option or inclination other than to stand or fall with them. Accordingly, whenever the English were embroiled in warfare, or subjected to a sudden attack from Maratha bandits or hostile Indian powers, they threw in their weight of numbers and fighting qualities to stem the onslaught or defend the rude ramparts. These tawny sons of Britain helped to man the guns; they sprang to stirrup; they dashed with the bayonet point — ever at the side of their brave fathers where dangers were thickest, and courage the highest, helping to plant the flag of England on Indian soil. Thus from the earliest times — from the days when the English had no more than a precarious footing in the land: when the Company’s factories were mere groups of huts indifferently, if at all, protected for military purpose, when there was not yet a dream, much less a prospect, of a British Empire in India; the cause of England was ever the cause of her Anglo-Indian sons. They augmented the inadequate forces of the East India Company; they spilt their blood on many a battlefield; they rushed the breach; they scaled the wall of the beleaguered city. Valuable as were the services which they rendered in the fighting line, often more estimable were the services they rendered in reconnoitring and bringing information of the enemy. Their swarthy skins, their faultless knowledge of Indian tongues, modes of dress, habits and religious practices, enabled them to take on a perfect disguise; to penetrate into many a Guthrie’s camp; and return with important intelligence regarding the enemy’s strength, position, and plans. Nor was their usefulness restricted to any one part of the country. Born of Indian mothers wherever the Company had struck its roots, they had in part the external characteristics of the Indian races from which their mothers had been derived.5 They were thus endowed by nature and circumstance with those gifts and acquisitions which enabled them with facility to assume a disguise that aroused no suspicion. On many a hazardous enterprise were they sent — adventures upon which no white man could have dared. Over and over again the victory was won because of the information brought by an Anglo-Indian youth who had strayed into the enemies’ camp as a wandering minstrel or an itinerant beggar, or as a menial servant as in the case of Shepherd of the Indian Mutiny.

The second half of the seventeenth century and the opening years of the century which followed, saw India stretched upon the rack of internecine, tribal, or clan warfare. Aurangzeb (1658-1707) witnessed the first ominous signs of the disruption of the Mughal Empire. There was the war in which Golkonda and Bijapur were annexed, thereby putting an end to the Adil Shahi and Kutb Shahi Dynasties. The Rajputs presently rose in revolt. The Marathas, eluding decisive conclusions harried the Deccan, and scoured the land exacting chaut. To add to the general confusion, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English were either fighting among themselves, or taking sides with belligerent Indian potentates and ruling chiefs. Aurangzeb’s immediate successors were puppets in the hands of Syyids Abdulla and Hussain Ali who played the role of King-Makers. The Sikhs (1710-1716) tried to throw off the Mughal yoke. The Deccan asserted independence under the Nizam-ul-Mulk; and Oudh fell into the hands of its Mughal Governor. The invasion of Nadir Shah and his historic sack of Delhi took more than the Kohinur from the Emperor’s crown. Rajputana and Jodhpur became free in 1750, while the Marathas wrung tribute from the Deccan, Gujerat, Malwa and Orissa, and prostrated Bengal with their exactions and raids. Under ordinary circumstances the prevailing anarchy and confusion would have left the English and the other European nations in the country free to develop their own business and to consolidate their gains. But they were dependent upon those who had given them grants of lands and other privileges. When these patrons came into collision with one another, their proteges had to take sides.

Thus, often much against their choice or inclination, the European, nations found themselves ranged in opposing armies. The Dutch and the French had not raised a sufficiently large race of mixed blood that could come to their support. The Portuguese had virtually, if not actually, ceased to count as a factor in Indian affairs; but their descendants had been attracted to the standard of the English through their affinity to Anglo-Indians. How real this adhesion was is signified by the fact that in the early British schools in Madras, the medium of instruction was an odd blend of Portuguese and English. The descendants of the Portuguese had been accustomed to serve in the Portuguese army, and had proved keen fighters.6 Thus by drawing on the community of mixed descent the Company obtained recruits at a time when owing to the constant wars in which England was involved with France in the eighteenth century, British soldiers at home could not be spared for service in India. Now, as ever before, events in India were determined by happenings in England. In past times Cromwell’s defeat of the Dutch Government at home (1654) had reassured the rights and privileges of the East India Company. From the weak and debauched Charles II nothing could be expected, although he presented Bombay to the British as something for which he had no use. In the reigns of James I and of William and Mary the affairs of the Company suffered from the ineptitude and dishonesty of its own servants. Meanwhile the disintegration of the Mughal Empire was proceeding apace through the regime of the puppet Emperors who succeeded Aurangzeb; or through the personal ambitions of the Governors of the Provinces; or owing to the recrudescence of the power of the Marathas and Rajputs; or in consequence of the sweeping invasion of Nadir Shah. It was destined to receive its final overthrow from the British. During the reigns of George I and II, Europe experienced the War of the Austrian Succession, during which Dupleix took Madras from the English, and defeated Anwar-ud-din, Nawab of Arcot. Admiral Boscawen retaliated by attacking Pondicherry. Suddenly the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) brought about a temporary cessation of hostilities between the French and the English. But the Seven Years’ War was not long in coming (1756-65). Its wave reached India, and the old rivals fought fierce battles under the generalship of Lally and Eyre Coote. Then followed the Treaty of Paris, and with it came the close of the Second Karnatic War. Meanwhile, Clive had won the Battle of Plassey; and Bengal, Bihar and Orissa had passed to the British. In 1765 the Mughal Emperor conferred on them sovereign rights over the Northern Circars. Thus at this period the English held practical sway over all Bengal and Southern India. By the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed (1783) the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French ambitions for ascendency in India had been extinguished; and after a struggle of a hundred years, with extended territories but emptied exchequer and depleted armies, the English had triumphed over their rivals and even the Great Mughal. So great had been the demand for troops in different places at the same time, that a breaking-strain had been placed on the fighting resources of the Company. In normal circumstances it would have been sufficiently difficult, in view of the six months’ voyage from England to India, to bring constant and increasing supplies of soldiers from the homeland. But British soldiers were needed also at home for wars on the European Continent, while the East India Company were being faced with the problem of obtaining men for the campaigns to be fought in India. They got them from the India-born sons of their own servants, and from among the descendants of the Portuguese. The brunt of the fighting fell on them. But for them the French would have expelled the English from India. Moreover, the Company’s original intention had been merely to trade. It had never contemplated owning territories. These had been acquired not by deliberate invasion or conquest, but in payment for military services rendered to a patron chief. The enlarging of the Company’s landed possessions had brought the English into conflict with neighbours, and had excited the marauding proclivities of the Marathas or the envy of European rivals. Thus, the Company found that trade had brought them territories, and territories had brought them wars. The troops originally maintained for the policing of factories, were insufficient for the protection of districts. It had therefore become necessary to organise a Government, and there came into existence three main departments of the State, the mercantile, the judiciary, and the army. In 1661 authority had been given by Parliament to the Company to judge according to the laws of England all persons living under their aegis in their settlements. The later Charters of 1683 and 1686 extended to them authority to erect courts of justice for the trial of offences committed both by sea and land. In 1708 the Company was granted the privilege of holding courts of session and appeal, as also of constituting a Mayor’s court at Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. In 1773 by the Regulating Act the Supreme Court of Fort William at Calcutta was instituted “to protect natives from oppression, and to give India the benefits of English law.” The government was now centralised in the Governor-General, Warren Hastings, who was assisted by a Council of four Members. The army was assigned to a Commander-in-Chief. By this time consciousness of empire had entered into the life of the Company and its servants.

Up to this date the members of the Anglo-Indian Community had been identified with the English.7 They had suffered no disabilities. If their fathers could afford it, they had been sent to England for their education, and had generally returned to India in the Covenanted and Commissioned services of the Company. Those who could not proceed to England had been educated locally, and occupied the great majority of positions in the uncovenanted civil service, and in the warrant and artificers ranks of the Company’s army. All who were physically fit were enlisted into the Company’s forces in every branch. In times of emergency they were called up or volunteered for active service, and gallantly fought under Clive at Arcot, Sriramgaon, and Trichinopoli in the Second Karnatic War; and at Wandiwash under Eyre Coote. They perished in the Black Hole of Calcutta. They were in the line of battle at Plassey. They participated in the campaigns which put an end to French aspirations in India. They were massacred with their English comrades by the soldiery of Mir Kasim at Patna (1763), fought in the battle of Buxar (1764), and were present at the capture of Allahabad. They took part in the Rohilla War (1772), the First Maratha War (1775), and in the Second Mysore War (1780). When Clive set up the Dual System of Government they filled posts of respectability and responsibility on the Diwani side. These were the years of their prosperity. The days of adversity were at hand.

Chapter VI

The Heavy Hand of Repression

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Hot coloured like his own; and honing pow’r
T’enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and denotes him as a lawful prey.

By this time the Anglo-Indians had become more numerous than the English in India. They had made themselves indispensable in the humbler spheres of the Company’s services. They had gathered round the interloper, the merchant, the indigo planter, and the military or civil officer. In the field they had proved their superiority to the soldiery of Scindia and Holkar and French sepoys. Through dint of merit they had won their way to many of the higher military and civil positions which the debenture-holders of the East India Company coveted for their sons and nephews. They had been thoroughly trusted for their loyalty; but in view of the respect and even deference with which they were regarded by the Indian population, and their unquestionable influence with them, they began to be looked upon as an element of potential danger. For, in their American Dominions and Hayti had not the Spaniards raised a mixed population that had in course of time combined with the native inhabitants and expelled the conquering race? There was no knowing what the Anglo-Indians might not ultimately do when once they realised their strength and importance, and made demands for a still larger and more honourable share in the operations of the East India Company.

Already there had been distressing warnings of internal weakness and disaffection. Mutinies had not been altogether unknown in the British as well as the Indian army. The English force under Clive in Bengal had mutinied in 1776, and with the co-operation of the Commander-in-Chief in that same year the Madras army had revolted, and deposed and imprisoned Lord Pigott, Governor of Madras. Two years earlier the sepoy troops at Patna and Monghyr had made their officers prisoners. The disaffection had spread to Capt. Galliez’ battalion, and had with difficulty been suppressed by Capt. Wemyss at Manjee. Both the French and the English had been reduced to their minimum numerical strength by the perpetual wars of the century. It was felt that there were unseen dangers ahead should it come about that the natives, taking advantage of an attenuated British army, made an attempt to expel the strangers who were fastening upon their country. A panic was started by enlarging upon the danger-fraught possibilities of a crisis, when Indian soldiers, supported by Anglo-Indian rank and file, and led by Anglo-Indian officers, would be driving the British out of India. The thing had happened to the Spaniards in San Domingo. Why not to the British in India?

The shareholders of the East India Company determined to make capital of the panic created by these forebodings of evil days to come. Here was their long looked for opportunity to put an end to the patronage of the Indian Government, not by depriving them directly of the powers that they possesed, but by making their Anglo-Indian proteges ineligible for patronage. For many years the filling of appointments by the Indian Government had been a fruitful source of friction between that Government and the Court of Directors. The authorities in India held that they should not to be obliged to accept anyone and everyone who was nominated by the Court of Directors to fill an office. They claimed that they themselves were the best judges of the qualifications of the men needed, and that, therefore, a certain amount of patronage should be vested in them. The senior military and civil officials in India shared in this view. They naturally demanded that the men who bore the heat and burden of the day, and who risked their lives in earning large dividends for stay-at-home debenture-holders, had a right to provide suitably for the sons born to them in India whether by English or Indian wives. These sons had usually been educated in England, and it was a rightful perquisite and legitimate reward that “the Sons of the Company” should have preferential treatment to the sons of mere investors in the Company’s stocks. As a matter of fact the India-born sons of tried and distinguished servants of the Company had invariably come back to India in the covenanted and commissioned services; had been accorded the same status as their fathers; and had themselves often attained distinction. The practice of keeping an open door to these youths was jealously guarded by the men in the Company’s employment, and it was strongly supported by the natural desire of Governors and Councillors to have the prospects in life of their sons secured by the reservation to the authorities in India of the power and fight to make their own selection for appointments from among candidates available locally.

On the other hand the share-holders saw in the Company’s services attractive careers for their sons and other near relatives. They witnessed man after man returning to England enriched in an incredibly short space of time. The possibilities for latent talent to achieve great things in India had repeatedly been demonstrated. Many a fond father believed that his son, given the opportunity, would blossom into a second Clive or Warren Hastings, another Job Charnock or Eyre Coote. The debenture-holders, therefore, regarded every appointment made by the Governor-General-in-Council as diminishing by one the appointments that should be made available to the relatives of debenture-holders. These were the masters, and the civil and military officers of the Company the servants. It was not to be permitted that the sons of servants should have precedence over the sons of masters.

An agitation was set on foot. The first to be sacrificed on the altar of expediency were the defenceless and friendless wards of the Upper Orphanage School at Calcutta, recently established under the auspices of the East India Company for the orphans of British Military officers. On the 14th March, 1786, an order was issued disallowing them to proceed to England to complete their education, and thereby qualify for the covenanted services. This prohibition served only to incite the agitators to renewed demands. They pointed out that the prohibition touched but the fringe of a much larger question, for at best the number of boys whom it affected must necessarily be comparatively small. The power of Capital over Labour made itself felt. Every argument and circumstance that existed or could be manufactured was repeated with reiteration — the prestige of the Court of Directors must be asserted, the interests of those who had invested their patrimony must be safeguarded, the revolution of Hayti and San Domingo must be made impossible — anything and everything was urged that was calculated to swell the chorus of opposition to the existing practice of having desirable appointments at the disposal of the Indian Government.

The Members of the Court of Directors, who owed their influence and positions to the favour and votes of the debenture-holders, were soon brought to a frame of mind to yield to the wishes of their benefactors. The subordinates in the Home Services were got at, and became the willing tools of the capitalists. Made wise by noting which way the wind blew, and instigated by the known intentions of the share-holders, the Chairman of the Committee of Shipping played into the hands of the agitators, and acquainted the Court of Directors that one John Turing “who is appointed as a Cadet for Madras, appears to be a native of India.” John Turing was the son of the Company’s Commissioner of the East Coast, and Resident at Ganjam, inferentially by a Tamil or Telegu wife, and unfortunately had acquired his sable complexion from his mother. It would appear that he had been sent to England and was on the point of returning to India in the capacity of a commissioned officer in the army. The Proceedings of the Court of Directors dated the 19th April, 1791, (which the writer has had the privilege of seeing in original among the manuscripts of the India Office) record as follows:— “Mr. Turing was called, and having withdrawn — Resolved unanimously that no person the son of a Native Indian shall henceforth be appointed by this Court in employment in the Civil, Military or Marine services of the Company. S.O.” (Standing Order). The Committee of Shipping held a position of much power and responsibility. No one was permitted to board any vessel proceeding to India, except he produced to that Committee the letter of his appointment, and a written permit from the Court of Directors to make the voyage. Egged on to it by the approval with which their initial success had been greeted, the Committee of Shipping pressed for a wider and more comprehensive injunction. Accordingly, at the Meeting of the Court of Directors held on the 9th November, 1791, they submitted a report “requesting the Court’s sentiments on their Resolution of the 19th April 1791, whereby Persons being the sons of Native Indians are precluded from being employed in the Civil, Military, or Marine Service of the Company. It was moved, and, on the question, Resolved by Ballot that the description of persons in the Resolution of the Court of the 19th April last, shall further be extended to sworn officers of the Company’s ships between Europe and India.” In the margin are the same significant capitals — “S.O.” These orders were duly transmitted to India, and there published in The Calcutta Gazette of 14th June, 1792.

This second proscription failed to slake the thirst of the debenture-holders for the monopoly of Indian affairs. They pointed out that the regulations hitherto passed merely excluded Anglo-Indians from the higher and better grades of the civil and military services, but still failed to make it impossible for the tragedy of Hayti to be enacted in India. Under guise of anxiety to ward off a possible national menace, they demanded that Anglo-Indians should be disqualified for service even as privates in the Company’s British troops. Unable any longer to wage unequal fight against the will of their masters, the Governor-General-in-Council passed a resolution in 1795 whereby all persons not descended from European parents on both sides were disqualified for service in the army except as fifers, drummers, bandsmen and farriers. The share-holders and the Court of Directors had triumphed over the Government of India. That Government, however, continued in office notwithstanding it had suffered in prestige.

But more tragic — Anglo-Indians had been deprived of every honourable career. To reduce a people to political impotence and social degradation, three measures are all-sufficient. Deprive them of the means of livelihood. Deprive them of education. Deprive them of arms. These three cruel measures had been enacted against the Anglo-Indian race, and thus within the brief period of the ten years lying between 1786 and 1795, by the standing orders of the great East India Company, Anglo-Indians had been reduced to the status of a proscribed and down-trodden race.

Chapter VII


Lo, at their birth good stars were opposite.

The order of 1786 disqualifying the wards of the Upper Military Orphanage for completing their education in England was received with indignation by all classes of the Company’s servants. This charitable institution had been established in Calcutta through the exertions of Major-General Kirkpatrick in 1782, and was conducted by the Military Orphan Society. It was financed, under sanction of the Court of Directors, by the monthly graduated subscriptions of commissioned officers in the Company’s army, and was designed to put an end to the subscription lists which were constantly being circulated for the relief of the orphans of deceased officers. The scheme was presently extended to provide for the orphans of British non-commissioned officers and privates, for whom there was a lower scale of monthly subscriptions, in the Lower Orphanage. The Upper Orphanage was located originally in Howrah in the building now occupied by the Courts of Law. In 1790 the girls’ department was removed to Kidderpore House adjoining St. Stephen’s Church, and now in possession of the Calcutta Girls’ Free School. For many years its great hall was used for an annual ball given in the interest of men seeking wives from the girls in the orphanage or from among the new arrivals from England. Officers in the Upper Provinces were known to journey 500 miles to obtain a wife in this fashion.8

Not less acute was the resentment awakened by the Standing Order of 1791 which disqualified Anglo-Indians whether born in or outside wedlock for admission into the Covenanted Services of the East India Company. It doubtless secured the patronage of the Court of Directors in favour of their own sons and the sons of debenture-holders, but it also repudiated the claims of those who, perhaps not having money to invest in the enterprises of the Company, were nevertheless risking their lives, and even losing them, in enriching their stay-at-home capitalist countrymen. England’s sons born in India who had been sent to the fatherland in childhood, who had been nurtured in the families of their sires, and educated in the best public schools of Britain, might hold the highest positions, civil, military, and political, in England itself, but they were branded with a stigma and ostracised from the Covenanted Services of a trading Company which had received its charter from a British Sovereign. The Standing Order of 1795, relegating Anglo-Indians to the non-combatant grades of the army, was considered an act of base ingratitude to a people who had for over a century shed their twin-stream blood freely on many a battlefield to save the Company’s honour and possessions.

Immediate effect was given to the new policy. Anglo-Indians in every branch of the army were discharged from service, without a thought of how they were to make a living. They had no trades, nor industries, nor professions upon which to fall back. In their boyhood and early manhood there had been no schools, no workshops, no factories where they might have learnt the arts and handicrafts, or acquired mechanical skill. Being the sons of Englishmen, by the regulations of the East India Company like their fathers they too had been debarred from acquiring land.8 Like their fathers, they had not been permitted to reside further than ten miles from the nearest Presidency town or Company’s settlement, without the written sanction of the Chief Secretary. They, therefore, could not turn to agriculture or trade. Thrown out of soldiering, the only profession to which they had been reared, there was nothing for them but to transfer their services to Indian Chiefs, and they were received with open arms. They were promoted to the commissioned ranks in native armies, where they were much valued for their competence to train and discipline sepoy levies.

It was a sad spectacle — the father in the army of the Company: his son in pay of a late enemy Chief. Nor was the time propitious for such an arrangement. True, “non-intervention” had been determined upon as the future policy of the Company towards Indian potentates. But the Marquis of Wellesley (1798-1805) was not long in discovering that while it might be well and good in theory, it was impossible to carry it into practice. The Native Chiefs themselves made interference imperative. For instance, the Nizam was bound by treaty to dismiss all Frenchmen in his army. Presently, in European waters and in Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte was wrecking the kingdoms of Europe, and proposed invading India with a view to reinstating the power of the French in the Deccan. He accordingly entered into negotiations with Tipu Sultan to assist him to land troops in India. Tipu received his overtures favourably, and invited the french soldiers recently discharged by the Nizam to enter his army. Two years later the Marathas began to harass the Nizam, whose army had been weakened by the removal of the French element that there had been in it. He turned to the English for help, and knowing that they would desire to checkmate Tipu’s alliance with Napoleon, he offered to compensate the Company by giving it the lands which he had wrested from Tipu. The non-intervention policy of the Company had therefore to be violated, and in the war which ensued, the Fourth Mysore War, the Nizam, the Marathas and the English took the field against the French and Tipu Sultan, with the result that the major portion of Mysore was added to the British possessions. Tipu Sultan himself was slain before the gates of Seringapatam, where also fell Ensign John Ricketts, father of John William Ricketts, who carried to England “The East Indians’ Petition” in 1829.

The thread of the story will be resumed in Chapter IX. But the salient fact must not be lost sight of that, on being excluded from the Company’s and the King’s armies in India, Anglo-Indians who had been bred within sound of the British cannon and amid the dust and din of their battle-fields, joined the armies of any one and every one who would accept them. They entered the service of the Sultan of Mysore, of the Nizam of Hyderabad, of the Nawab Vazir of Oudh, of Sindhia, and Holkar; of free-lancers like Perron, and George Thomas. Others of them raised their own irregular infantry and cavalry; while scores of Anglo-Indian warriors won their spurs in the ranks of armies not belonging to the East India Company.9

Chapter VIII

Cause and Effect

Was man ordain’d the slave of man to toil,
Yoked with the brutes, and fetter’d to the soil;
Weighed in a tyrant’s balance with his gold?
Thomas Campbell

Section I — The Story of the Black Republic

This policy of progressive repression of Anglo-Indians — was it instigated by heartlessness or lust of power? From what has been related it would appear to have had its origin in selfishness and greed of gain. But in addition to these sordid motives, undeniably there was a growing sense of uneasiness lest the tragedy of Hayti and San Domingo should be enacted on Indian soil.

Viscount Valentia, who was commissioned by the Court of Directors to visit the Company’s Possessions in 1802-1806, was perhaps the first responsible person to commit to writing the vague apprehensions entertained as to the danger which might result from the presence in India of a mixed British and Indian race. His Report took the form of a Diary, and was published in 1811 under the title “Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt in the Years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805 and 1806.” While in Calcutta he thus wrote:— “The most rapidly accumulating evil of Bengal is the increase of half-caste children. They are forming the first step to colonisation by creating a link of union between the English and the natives. In every country where this intermediate caste has been permitted to rise, it has ultimately tended to its ruin. Spanish-America and San Domingo are examples of this fact. Their increase in India is beyond calculation: and though possibly there may be nothing to fear from the sloth of the Hindus, and the rapidly declining consequence of Musalmans, yet it may be justly apprehended that this tribe may hereafter become too powerful for control. Although they are not permitted to hold offices under the Company, yet they act as clerks in almost every mercantile house; and many of them are annually sent to England to receive the benefit of an European education. With numbers in their favour, with a close relationship to the natives, and without an equal proportion of the pusillanimity and indolence which is natural to them, what may not in future time be dreaded from them?10 I have no hesitation in saying that the evil ought to be stopped; and I know of no other way of effecting this object, than by obliging every father of half-caste children, to send them to Europe prohibiting their return in any capacity whatever.”

Lord Valentia, like the proverbial globe-trotter, saw only the surface of things. Lords Canning and Lytton, Viceroys of India, pierced beneath it. An eye-witness of the valuable services rendered by Anglo-Indians when the fate of the British in India trembled in the balance, after the Indian Mutiny of 1857 the former declared in his celebrated Minute:— “It may be long before it would grow into what would be called a class dangerous to the State; but very few years will make it, if neglected, a glaring reproach to cared for betimes, it will become a source of strength to British rule and of usefulness to India. The Eurasian class have a special claim on us. The presence of a British Government has called them into being.” Lord Lytton in 1877 wrote in his memorable educational Minute “ It must be remembered that he or his English ancestor was brought out to India originally to do the work that could be done only by the European — a fact which in itself gives them some claim to consideration.” Lord Valentia visited India while the wave of nervousness regarding Anglo-Indians was at its height, and he must have been influenced by what he had heard from the Company’s higher oflSlcials. His panic-stricken advice betrays an extravagant fear lest at some time not too far off Anglo- Indians would stage in the theatre of India the drama which the Mulattoes of Spanish- America and San Domingo had enacted when they expelled the Spaniards and the French from Hayti, and had set up The Black Republic. As frequent reference has been made to this episode, it may be appropriate to relate its main events in broad outline.

The island of Hayti in the Carribean Sea had been discovered by Columbus, and it had accordingly been annexed by Spain. Sir Spenser St. John recounts that the early years of the Spanish occupation of the island presented “a sequence of sickening events, of murders, executions, robbery and lust, with but few traits of generosity and virtue to record.” Having inaugurated measures, and carried them only too successfully into effect, for the extermination of the aboriginal Indians, the Spaniards imported into Hayti negro slaves from Africa. Presently the French gained a footing in the land, and within a few years there was a numerically strong race of mixed European and “black blood” known as Mulattoes or Haytians. When the tendency first appeared to have in the island a law of deprivation for the Mulattoes and a law of privilege for the French settlers, the French Constituent Assembly on the 15th May, 1791, decreed that every man of colour born of free parents should enjoy equal rights with the whites; and when the planters protested that this would bring about civil war and the loss of the colony, the proud reply was “Perish the Colonies rather than a Principle!” This pronouncement was in accord with the doctrine of Equality and Fraternity which was gathering force eventually to embroil France in a bloody revolution. The Spaniards, however, did not subscribe to the policy of the French, and continued to oppress and ill-treat the people of mixed descent. But the Haytians meanwhile had had an opportunity of measuring their strength. In the American War of Independence which concluded in 1785, the French had entered the struggle as allies of the Americans against the English, and they had imported to the American Continent their Haytian mulatto and negro subjects to support them in the conflict. When these returned to their island home they spread the spirit of disaffection which no ordinances could destroy. The French now repented of their proclaimed policy towards the mulattoes, and joined the Spaniards in a united effort to suppress them and the negroes by using every form of cruelty and repression available. But it was too late to resort to tactics such as these, with a people who had already witnessed America flinging off the yoke of England, and who had with the victorious American troops sipped of the cup of Freedom. As the Americans had freed themselves from the domination of Britain they determined in like manner to liberate themselves from foreign rule in their own country. Oge, Rigaud, Pinchinet, and Banvais — mulattoes, and Jean Francois, Biasson, and Tousaint — negroes became the Garibaldis of their race. It availed the French and Spaniards nothing that Oge and three of his compatriots were broken on the wheel, that others were hanged upon trees, and that scores were sent to the galleys. Insurrection followed on insurrection, massacre followed on massacre, until Freedom’s battle had been won, and the Black Republic had been established.

It will be observed that the years occupied by the struggle of the mulattoes and negroes of Hayti and San Domingo to rid themselves of their oppressors, were the very years during which the East India Company embarked on their policy of repressing Anglo-Indians. To them it must have appeared that ordinary prudence dictated the adoption of such measures as would prevent the repetition in India of the recent happenings in another European possession. Even though their own descendants had to be put under the heel, the thing must be done, for no risks were to be taken. Of the mulattoes it had been said “They hate their fathers and despise their mothers.” Although British fathers could not say this of their Anglo-Indian children, who had consistently fought for their fathers and cherished their mothers, it was felt that the warning borne across the seas from Hayti must not be disregarded. Ordinances must be issued whereby Anglo-Indians would be rendered impotent and innocuous through being shorn of opportunities to assert their numerical superiority. There was nothing new in the methods proposed for the repression of a particular section of the general public. In England Roman Catholics were debarred from the universities. Neither they, nor Dissenters, nor Jews could hold office in the military or civil services, nor were they eligible for seats in the House of Commons. The agents of the East India Company, therefore, did not invent the instruments whereby Anglo-Indians were disqualified for the British army or the superior positions in the marine and civil services. The instruments had been forged years before. The Irish Catholics were not permitted to enter at Oxford and Cambridge. On a smaller scale, the parallel for India was that the orphans of the Upper Orphanage were not to complete their education in England.

Section II — The Status of Women in England

While all this may be conceded, there are indications that secret or avowed contempt for people of mixed origin was undoubtedly an ingredient of the motives by which the Court of Directors were actuated; and that they counted upon the prejudice against people of dark complexion to conciliate the British to the repressive measures against Anglo-Indians. Contempt for dark skinned races was, as it is now, a psychological mystery attaching to white races. The individual Englishman doubtless had natural affection for his dusky children — witness the prevailing practice, if means sufficed, of sending them to England for their education. But whatever may have been the disposition of each separate British father towards his son, unquestionably the English nation regarded the child of mixed parentage with ill-will. The same feeling prevailed whether the unfortunate victims of the unconventionality of their fathers had been born in China or Peru, in Africa or the West Indies. When the social status of the women of England itself was hardly one remove higher than slavery, is it to be wondered at that the child of an Indian mother was looked down upon? In the days of which we are speaking, womanhood in England was held in little honour, and childhood received but scant consideration. Hundreds of chimney boys, controlled by master sweeps, perished annually in London — the victims of badly constructed chimneys. Nobody cared. Children on the farms, in the factories, in the mines, worked long hours for miserable pittances. Women and their children were at the mercy of husbands and fathers. The Commission appointed by Parliament at the instance of Lord Ashley proved that if black slavery existed in the colonies, there was white slavery enough in England itself. Says Justin McCarthy in his Epochs of Modern History “The evidence brought out by the Commission revealed the fact that in several of the coal mines for instance, women were employed literally as beasts of burden. The seams of coal were often too narrow to allow any grown person to stand upright, and the women had to creep on their hands and knees, crawling backwards and forwards for fourteen or even sixteen hours a day. But they had not merely to crawl backwards and forwards, they had also to drag after them the trucks laden with coal. The trucks and the women were harnessed together after the rudest and simplest fashion — the usual plan was to make fast each truck to a chain which passed between the legs of the woman engaged in drawing it, and the chain was then attached to the belt which was strapped round her naked waist. The women who worked in these mines usually wore no clothing but an old pair of trousers made of the roughest sackcloth; they wore, in fact, the same sort of costume as the men, and the chief difference in their condition was that they were put to a lower and more degrading kind of work than that which was allotted to their male companions. These women were, indeed, literally unsexed; and not by any means merely in that metaphorical sense in which the word is sometimes now employed. It would be needless to attempt to describe the physical and moral evils which were necessarily produced by such a system.” At the time that Lord Valentia visited India the position of the women of England had hardly improved. The Kentish Gazette of March, 1805, records the following incident:— “One of the laborers working on the Military Canal, having quarrelled with his wife, brought her with a cord round her neck, and tied her to a post in the market place at Hythe, and put her up for sale. The big drummer of the 4th Foot, a mulatto, bought her and led her away. She was not more than 20 years of age, and of a likely figure.”

If such was the social condition in England of English women and children of the working classes, how was it possible in India for Indian women and their Anglo-Indian children to fare better? The one redeeming feature was, that these children were adopted by their British fathers — and what could be done for them was done. Otherwise, if their father deserted them on his return to England, they were allowed to lapse into the Indian population. The Anglo-Indian families that have survived are descended from men of the better classes who came from Britain, and who had sufficient honour and fine feeling to assume responsibility for the children born to them in India.

The treatment of native women and their children b3f British fathers was worse in the Colonies than in India. Once more to quote Justin McCarthy, “Women actually with child had been scourged with as many as 170 lashes. Women had been stripped, tied up to a post, and left there naked through a whole day, writhing under a tropical sun, and with a flogging inflicted at stated intervals. Half-caste women, almost as white as English women, were frequently to be identified by the brand upon their breasts.” Such was the morality of England during the years of Anglo-Indian proscription in India. The morality of the national laws and social customs of a period must be judged by the codes of the age, and not by the culture and ethics of our more enlightened, and therefore more humane days. However unjust, unnatural, and cruel may have been the dealings of the East India Company with Anglo-Indians during the years 1786 to 1795, it cannot be maintained that they were in character distinguishable from the Acts of Parliament in force in England itself. But in all probability full reasons for the repression of Anglo-Indians were not given by the Court of Directors. The proscription was not only from fear of being driven out of India, for when Ricketts was under examination by the Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company, 1830, he was asked: “Are you not aware that the original exclusion of persons of your description from the Company’s services, was an exclusion founded upon the belief of your appearance and your colour being likely to affect you in the estimation of the natives of India?” To this Ricketts replied — “I am not aware of that. We are held in equal respect by the natives of India with Europeans. I would instance the case of indigo planters and merchants, who are scattered in different parts of the country. The Princes and Nabobs visit them as they do Europeans, and treat them with equal respect. Ram Mohan Roy, a learned and respectable native of Calcutta, associates with us as he does with Europeans, and so would any other respectable natives.” Ricketts, if he had thought of it, might have recalled the adoration with which the students of the Hindu College regarded Derozio, and how the Maratha Horse agreed to fight in the British line, provided Skinner was their commander!

Chapter IX

The Call to Arms

You shall he righted, gentlemen, draw near;
We shall employ you.
Beaumont and Fletcher

The East India Company had hardly cast Anglo-Indians out of its army, when it found itself beset by foes. For the reason that it had taken Baji Rao II, the Peshwar, under British protection after the Treaty of Bassein, the Chiefs who formed the Maratha Confederacy, sank their own differences to combine against a common enemy. Holkar operated in Malwa, and Bhonsla in the Deccan. Sindhia’s army under the French general, Perron, was defiant in Northern India. Another of the Maratha Wars began, and a proclamation was issued summoning all British and Anglo-Indian men and officers who were serving in the Maratha army under Perron and in other Indian States, to return to the Company’s forces. The proclamation concluded with the warning that those who failed to rejoin the British ranks would be treated as traitors. No threat was necessary. They were in the pay of Indian Chiefs, solely because they had been driven out of the Company’s regiments, and because the British army had been closed to them. They might have nursed their grievance: but no. They heard the call of the blood, and obeyed it with alacrity. Perron and the Maratha Chiefs endeavoured to bribe them with tempting offers, but failed to shake their loyalty. Threats of being visited with the direst penalties had no effect on them. To a man they remained true to their fathers’ people, preferring death to lifting the sword against England. Major Vickers, an Anglo-Indian in Perron’s Maratha army, who had fought valiantly for his master, Holkar, against the Irish adventurer, George Thomas, and had distinguished himself at the siege of Georgegarh and in the battle of Poona, intimated that he had been invited back to the British army, and that he had decided upon rejoining it. Along with his comrades Dodd and Ryan he refused to fight for Holkar against the people of his father. The Maharajah was infuriated, and declared that he would strike off their heads if they attempted to desert him. No terrors of death could influence them to serve under Holkar when they were wanted in the British lines. Holkar, true to his word, caused Vickers, Dodd, and Ryan, to be marched at dawn of day to Tiger Hill, and there in the presence of brave Maratha soldiers whom they had repeatedly led to victory, the three Anglo-Indian heroes were put to a cruel death. Their heads were struck off and exposed on lance-points set up in front of Holkar’s camp. This awful fate of their comrades did not deter other Anglo-Indians in foreign service from rallying to the British ranks. It was not for them to withhold their assistance from a sense of spurned worth or injured deserts. They forgot their grievances in the presence of a national crisis. One of them, General Jones, commanded the Bombay army during the campaigns of 1803-05, and on every front they did yeoman service.

The war came to an abrupt and unsatisfactory conclusion. The Court of Directors had grown weary of Wellesley’s ceaseless and costly campaigns, and recalled him. Lord Cornwallis was sent out a second time to be Governor General. He died within a few months of his arrival, and his successor. Sir George Barlow, put into effect the non-intervention policy which the Directors had enjoined upon Lord Cornwallis. A period of comparative inaction followed. Economies were introduced. The strength of the Company’s army was reduced in consideration of the augmented forces of the King’s army. Thus, again Anglo-Indians were thrown out of military service, for in 1808 the Commander-in-Chief issued an order discharging them, as formerly, from the British regiments in India.

Years of political and economic depression in due course produced sequential changes in the outlook and prospects of the Anglo-Indian community. Dr. Alexander Duff reflecting upon the disabilities under which they had been labouring for nearly one hundred years, thus appealed to the Assembly at Edinburgh in 1865:— “The East Indian Community, we have been told, is in a very backward and deteriorated condition. Be it so. Is that a reason why it should continue so? Cut off, for the most part, from the genial sympathies of those whose bounden duty it was to cherish them; neglected too often by the state ministers of the sanctuary, who in imitation of their Divine Lord and Master, ought to have known no respect of persons; frowned down upon by the mimic semblances of greatness that strut their hour of little brief authority amongst them, and then pass away into merited oblivion; bereft of the means and appliances and the whole engineery of motives and encouragement that unfold the springs of latent energy and stimulate to exertions which tend to ennoble the mind, dignify the conduct, aggrandise the temporal inheritance, while they point emphatically to the still richer immunities of that which is eternal; in a word, subjected, on all hands, to a system of grievously repressive influences, is it fair, or generous, or just, to taunt them with the reproach of a condition which is far more their misfortune than their crime? What would the sturdy oak itself be, which has weathered the blasts of a thousand years, if exposed to the scowl of a perpetual winter? What but a shrivelled, stunted, dwarfish thing? But will you blame that as a deficiency in the nature and quality of the monarch of the wood, which is to be ascribed solely to the contingent circumstance of its adverse position. Only remove it from the frown of a perpetual winter; transplant it to a region where it shall experience the reviving influences of spring, the invigorating sunshine of summer, and the bracing breezes of autumn, and then it is not merely enlarged in bulk, but mightily strengthened to bid defiance to the wintry blasts. Precisely similar is the case of any community whether on the plains of India, the climes of heroic Greece, or the mountains of warm-hearted Ireland. If exposed to a round of chilling and repressive influences, the spring of its elasticity may at last be broken, and down it may sink into a state of inert and passive acquiescence, without capability of energetic effort, and almost without desire of self-improvement or advance in the scale of intellectual, social and moral well-being. But place the same community in mote genial circumstances, and the whole of the lamentable process and state of things may at once be reversed.”

Chapter X

Educational Institutions

Its children are a nation’s greatest asset, and their education its first duty.

The vicissitudes in the fortunes of Anglo-Indians, and the accumulated logic of facts, made it imperative for them to consider by what avocations other than military service they could maintain themselves. The army being barred to them, they realised that they must educate themselves for various callings in civil life. The appreciation of this led them to concentrate upon the provision of improved facilities for the education of the young. As for the mechanical arts, they were comparatively little known in those days, and workshops and technical and industrial schools, where they existed, were of the most elementary type. In the matter of general education it was necessary that there should be schools less informal than those that had been springing up casually at factories, settlements, and military centres.

It must be admitted that from time to time the East India Company had shown some small degree of interest in the education of the growing British population. For, although it had not established schools, or sent out more than one or two schoolmasters, its chaplains were under obligation to foster and supervise the instruction of the children in their parishes. In contrast to this nominal concern for the education of the children of its British servants, the Company had in 1782 established the Calcutta Madrasah for Muhammadans, and in 1791 the Benares College for Hindus. In addition to this, planters and missionaries were affording education to Indian children. Mr. Ellerton, an indigo planter at Malda, had set up schools on his “concerns”. May, Pearson, and Harley, as well as the Serampore Missionaries, were maintaining several schools for the children of the soil. There were, it is true, schools and orphanages for Anglo-Indians, but they were almost without exception private ventures, and always of the elementary type. The time had come when the education of the British population should be dealt with seriously, and conducted in such a manner that the young men of the community should be able to hold their own against striplings coming out for the subordinate positions in the Company’s mercantile and other offices, and not lose ground to the Indians who, being educated in schools maintained for them, were entering the clerical and ministerial grades in increasing numbers. The East India Vade Mecum says “The kranee, or clerk, may be either a native Armenian, a native Portuguese, or a Bengalee; the former not very common; the second more numerous, but the third to be seen everywhere.” This was so late as 1826; but as far back as 1780 Hicky’s Gazette published in Calcutta, gives an indication of how keen already was the competition between the Anglo-Indian and the native of Bengal for clerical appointments in the various offices:— “It is currently reported,” says the Gazette of the 24th June, 1780, “that the country-born writers are drawing up a petition to the Governor-General-in-Council complaining of the Bengalees taking their bread from them. With equal propriety the European writers might petition against both of them.” Before recounting the efforts that were made at the beginning of the nineteenth century to provide the community with an advanced class of schools modelled after the style of the British Grammar School, it is appropriate to pass in brief review the schools that had hitherto served them.

As Madras had been the first of the more important settlements of the Company, we naturally find the earliest schools established in that city. The first of them was known as Pringle’s School. Set up in 1673, in 1692 it was placed under the supervision of the chaplain stationed at Madras. It was followed in 1698 by Lewis’s Free School. In 1715 Stevenson founded St. Mary’s Charity School. It developed into St. Mary’s School, and was adopted by the East India Company, who later on brought out from England Samuel Staveley to be its head master. The school house was destroyed during the siege of Madras in 1758-39, and after moving more than once to other quarters it was located in Black Town, and built on a site provided by the East India Company.

On the other side of the Peninsula, the Rev. Richard Cobb (1719) established a charity school in Bombay. In 1731 the Rev. Jervis Bellamy (who perished in the Black Hole) opened the Charity School on to which in 1750 was grafted the Calcutta Free School. Eight years later, in 1758, Zachariah Kiernander, who had been invited by Clive from Madras to Calcutta, set on foot another charity school, which in 1789 merged into the Boys’ and Girls’ Free School. It benefitted from the damages paid by Siraj-ud-Doulah for sacking Calcutta in 1756. In 1772 the German missionary, Schwartz, had opened schools at Trichinopoly and Tanjore, while the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge had taken like action at Vepery and Cuddalore, and Fabricius at Vellore. In 1783 on the initiative of Major William Kirkpatrick the Upper and Lower Orphan Asylums were opened at Howrah, whence they were later on transferred to Calcutta. In 1787 through the exertions of Lady Campbell, wife of the Governor of Madras, similar orphanages were established in that city. It was in the Madras Asylums that John Bell acquired such celebrity from his pupil-teacher system, that on his death in England he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Numerous private schools sprang up in Calcutta. For boys there were Archer’s School, tha Dhurrumtollah Academy of Drummond, Farrell’s Seminary, Ardwise’s Calcutta Academy, schools belonging to Halifax, Lindstedt, Draper, Martin Bowles, Sherbourne, Dr. Yates, Furley in Park Street, Holmes in Cossipore, Gaynard in Meridith Buildings, Statham’s Academy, first in Dhurrumtollah, and later in Howrah. In 1823 the Parental Academy was started, and from it in 1836 separated out the Calcutta High (or Grammar) School, which to-day survives as St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling. La Martiniere College was established in 1836, and St Xavier’s College in 1834. Most of these schools received Indians of the better class. Dwarkanath Tagore and Raja Romanath Tagore were pupils of Sherbourne’s school. Derozio was a day scholar at Drummond’s Academy, located in the premises where this book is printed. There was also a plentiful supply of schools for girls — Mrs. Hedges, Mrs. Pitts, Mrs. Savage, Mrs. Durrell (in Clive Street), Mrs. Copeland, Mrs. Lawson, and Mrs. Payne (Dacre Lane), Mrs. Middleton had a school at Dinapore, and Mrs. Carey one at Serampore. Mixed schools existed at Chinsurah (Mr. Vogel’s) and at Calcutta (Mr. John Stansbarrow’s).

Some of these schools, e.g., the Upper Military Orphanages, Drummond’s Academy, Farrell’s Seminary, and Ardwise’s School gave a sound education to the children of the upper classes, and from them issued a constant supply of young men equipped for the uncovenanted and upper subordinate positions in the Company’s and mercantile offices. It will have been noticed that almost all the schools were private ventures. They came into existence in response to a local demand for education. It is always a healthy sign when people supply their needs from their own resources. It was the witnessing of the community’s determination to fend for itself, that later on encouraged members of the community like Baretto, Doveton, Lawrence de Souza and the Misses Bruce to bequeathe large educational benefactions. But in all countries the Church has been the pioneer and patron of education, and while the tendency in India was for quasi-public schools to be under the supervision of chaplains, in the establishment of the Calcutta High School and St. Xavier’s College, we see the two great denominations of the Christian Churches in Bengal assuming direct responsibility for the instruction of the juvenile section of their respective congregations. This departure has expanded, until in our day the great majority of our high schools are organised and controlled by religious bodies.

And let us here make full acknowledgment of the inestimable service they have done our community in the region of education. It is from no lack of appreciation of the part they have played in our social life that the question is mooted as to whether the assumption of direct provision of educational institutions for our children by Religious Orders has been to the unqualified advantage of the Anglo-Indian race. It is never wholesome to acquire the habit of leaning or depending on others to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves. So long as Anglo-Indians were accustomed to look to themselves for the provision of schools for their children, they were at least in that matter a virile community. Their character received a proper stimulus from the necessity to energise for their own welfare. They learnt how to organise their material and moral forces; how to hold together and co-operate in a common cause. The spirit of non-dependence upon others was breathed into and cultivated in them. They realised what it was necessary to do, and they became fertile in discovering the means of doing it Their pioneer “national” institution, the Parental Academy — afterwards Doveton College — illustrates these observations, for it was brought into being by the efforts of the community to secure to themselves the benefits of a sound and liberal education.

By 1822 the more prominent and thoughtful men of the community in Bengal had realised that the changed conditions of life, requiring as they did a wider, deeper, and sounder education of the rising generation, demanded the establishment of a public school that would fit its pupils for the departments of the public services. John William Ricketts, son of Ensign Ricketts, who had fallen at the Siege of Seringapatam, felt that the time had come for definite action. On the 1st March 1823, he convened a meeting of parents, guardians and friends at his house, now known as 9, Ripon Street, to consult with him and one another regarding the establishment of a national school for the community. Among those present on this occasion were Wale Byrne, at one time Deputy Collector of Calcutta: Willoughby DaCosta, a merchant; Patrick Sudierland, Registrar, Military Board; F. D. Kellner; Robert Kerr, Registrar and Head Accountant, Military Auditor-General’s Office; William Sturmer, Assistant, Military Auditor-General’s Office; Charles William Lindstedt, Deputy Registrar, Military Department; Edward(?) Brightman, merchant; Richard(?) Frith, Doctor of Messrs. Frith and Gordon, Chemists and Druggists; James Kyd, Master Shipbuilder, and others.

The outcome of their consultation was the establishment of the Parental Academic Institution at 11, Park Street Its character was to be that of a non-sectarian Protestant school, which on the secular side of instruction would make it unnecessary for the youths of the community to be sent to England for the completion of their education. The management of the institution was vested in a committee selected from the parents and guardians of pupils, and subscribers to the Society formed in connection with the school. Early in its history religious differences, however, arose among the members of the committee, with the result that the Church of England party withdrew, and opened the Calcutta Grammar or High School (1836), which, as has already been mentioned, survives as St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling. It was located in the building, still standing, within the precincts of the Calcutta Museum — east of the main building facing Chowringhee and south of the present Economic Section of that museum. The parent institution removed to Wellington Square, but in 1839 it took up its abode at 53, Park Street, on the site of what it now known as Park Mansions. Its main gate was where there is to-day the doorway of the Imperial Bank of India, Park Street Branch. In 1855 by the will of Captain John Doveton of the Nizam’s army, it received an endowment of Rs. 230,000, and in 1856 it was raised to the status of a College affiliated to the Calcutta University, in whose Charter it is held up as the model to which the Colleges to be established in connection with the University were to aspire. From this time forward it was designated the Parental Academic Institution and Doveton College. It continued its useful career till 1916, when on a representation made to Government by responsible leaders of the community it was closed and its endowment utilised for the entertainment of Doveton Foundationers in La Martiniere College. In its day the institution stood out as a remarkable example of what the community can do for itself. From it there issued successive generations of Anglo-Indians who filled the highest stations in the public services of the State, and who occupied leading positions in the learned professions. Of such excellent quality was the instruction which it imparted, that it received affiliation from the University of Oxford.

The Anglo-Indian Community, as has been stated at the beginning of this chapter, was convinced that they must strike out for themselves to reach a practical solution of their economic betterment. Their sons, they resolved, must be trained to mechanical, industrial, and agricultural pursuits. Accordingly, in Calcutta the Apprenticing Society was formed with the object of paying premiums for lads apprenticed to mechanical firms. In 1828 Ricketts established the Commercial and Patriotic Association “whose object was to engage in the wide field of agriculture, trade, and general commerce, to watch over and promote the real welfare and interests of the East Indian branch of the rising generation around them, including all such youths of European descent as may be destined to be born, to live, and to die in this country.” In the same year a scheme was set on foot, and carried into effect, to train Anglo-Indian boys for the sea. A Marine School was established on the river Hughli on the Hon’ble Company’s ship. Princess Charlotte of Wales, under the direction of Captain Binden. Thirteen Marine Insurance Companies promised financial support; but after a while the supply of money fell short of the demand, and the enterprise was abandoned. Following in the wake of Calcutta, at Fattehgarh and Bombay East Indian Amelioration Funds were started for “establishing East Indian families in agricultural pursuits, and mechanical trades, arts, manufactures and commerce.” At Madras and Hyderabad, Philanthropic Associations were formed with the object of making East Indian settlements at convenient places. It would appear, however, that the community had not sufficient means to stand the siege of the early years of these experiments, and that the failure of several banking corporations about this time so crippled them, that subscriptions and donations to public philanthropic undertakings languished. The spirit of self help of this period is worth bearing in mind.

Chapter XI

Derozio and Ricketts. The East Indians’ Petition

These are deeds which should not pass away.
And names that must not wither.
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

From the list of persons who attended the inaugural meeting of the Parental Academic Institution, the name of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is missed. Born in Calcutta on the 18th April, 1809, he was a mere lad of 14 summers when it was established. His own education had just been completed, and he was a junior assistant in the mercantile firm of James Scott and Company where his father, Francis Derozio, occupied a position of trust. One can imagine the talented lad looking wistfully at the gates that were closed to him, for alas! his school days were over — and he only fourteen! His very nature revolted against an office stool. His father, taking in the situation, removed him to Bhagalpore, to the indigo factory of his uncle, Arthur Johnson. Let us picture the bright, sensitive boy reared amid the depression which filled the hearts of the older members of his community. His mind, alert and eager for information, must often have pondered over the down-trodden and desperate condition of his fellow-countrymen. They were destitute of civil law. Professing the Christian religion, they were outside the pale of both Hindu and Muhammadan civil law. There was no law to regulate their marriages; no law to define the legitimacy or illegitimacy of their children; no law relating to succession to properly; no law to entitle them to bequeathe by the instrument of a will; no law to declare which of their children, whether one or all, should inherit in case of intestacy. In the interior, they were amenable to Muhammadan criminal law based on a religion that was repugnant to them. From 1791 they had been excluded from all superior and covenanted offices, and from all sworn offices in the Civil, Military, and Marine Services, for no better reason than that their mothers had been natives of India. They were not only disqualified for the superior offices which were open to other subjects, but they were also excluded from many of those subordinate appointments in the Judicial, Revenue, and Police Departments, which were open without let or hindrance to Hindus and Muhammadans. They might not hold commissions in the Company’s or the King’s Army. Those of them who were at the moment in proscribed appointments happened to have entered the service before the date of prohibition, but would not be succeeded by their sons. By Regulation III of 1818 they had been deprived of the Habeas Corpus Act. Regulation VIII of 1813 had included them in the category of native subjects; but nevertheless they were not permitted to purchase or hold land, or to live further than ten miles from a Company Settlement, without the express sanction of the Chief Secretary, as though they were pure English. Again, as though they were British-born subjects, they were debarred from taking service with Indian Ruling Chiefs, whether in a civil or military capacity, without the written permission of the Company’s Agent. Any native might proceed to England for his educacation, but no Anglo-Indian orphan of the Upper Military School might do so if he happened to be illegitimate. They thus were British or Indian as the occasion decided. In any case they suffered the disabilities imposed upon both, but never enjoyed the privileges of either. In time of national stress, e.g., the Maratha Wars, they had been classed as Europeans, and had accordingly been summoned back to the British ranks. When they were outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, they were as much Indians as any Hindu or Muhammadan within the Company’s territories. The Court of Directors in 1813 had sanctioned the expenditure of a lakh of rupees on education, but not a pie was for their schools. In a word they felt that everything possible that could be done was done to lower them in the eyes of the Indians among whom they lived. Local authorities and even the Court of Directors were unsympathetic. Every plan proposed by others or adopted by themselves for the social uplift of the community, instead of receiving the fostering encouragement of a paternal government, had met with positive refusal or chill neglect. In their motherland there was no room for them. They must be got rid of somehow, anyhow — even if it came to their children being deported to England as Lord Valentia had recommended.11

At Bhagalpore the youthful poet, Derozio, doubtless brooded, pensive and sad, over the misfortunes of his race. His sensitive nature, nurtured in the gloom of national dejection, winced under the realisation that sufferance was the badge of all his tribe. But his was not the mind of the fatalist. It was not numbed to inaction by the wintry blasts of adversity. Rather was it quickened to the contemplation of such measures as would bring emancipation. He was aglow with deep affection for India, and patriotic zeal for the betterment of his community. The Muse had early wakened the harp of verse in him. He was not eighteen when he published the first volume of his poems. They were a juvenile effort, but they attracted the attention of even the London Press, and received high commendation. While they breathed of Hope and Love, they were suffused with a sadness caught from his surroundings. Their often minor key was attuned to the dejection which on only too many of his acquaintances had settled like dark despair on blighted hopes. His swelling note of resolve to achieve which rises above a refrain of sadness, inspired others to a struggle for emancipation. The bard’s mission ever has been to rouse the drooping spirits of his race, and to waken them to action. Such was Derozio’s conception of his vocation. Let us quote from our Anglo-Indian poet’s rhapsody to The Enchantress of the Cave

O! for the Spirit of the Past,
Ere exiled Freedom looked her last
On this delicious orient clime!
O! for the men of fleeted time!
O! for heroic hearts of old
To fire the hearts that now are cold,
To lead them on to deeds of worth,
And raise their glory yet on earth!
’Tis vain to wish — it will not be:—
But since the spark of liberty
Is quenched, that once did warmly glow
In daring bosoms, long ago,
O! for a life-inspiring strain
To fan it into light again.

His success in verse gained for Derozio, who had by now come back to Calcutta, appointment as sub-editor of The India Gazette. Later on he became a teacher in the Hindu School founded by David Hare. But his work for his community never flagged. Realising the power of the press to influence public thought, he established The East India newspaper in which he fearlessly championed the Anglo-Indian Cause. His house became the haunt of his Indian pupils. But what was much more dear to him, it was the rendezvous of members of his own community who were foremost in the movement, still in process of taking shape, for lifting Anglo-Indians from the degraded position to which the neglect and injustice of the East India Company had relegated them. There gathered together, either at Derozio’s house or at the house of one another, his old school mates, Charles Pote (the artist). Wale Byrne, William Kirkpatrick; his more elderly friends, M. Crowe, J. L. Lorimer, H. Andrews, H. R. C. Wilsone, R. Alexander, H. Maseyk, H. Palmer, W. Stunner, and others, including — last, but by no means least — J. W. Ricketts. The theme of discussion was ever the political, social and economic disabilities of the East Indians (a designation which at this time the community elected for itself), and the means of removing them. The long list of grievances had been added to by the decision of the Supreme Court at Fort William in 1822, that the majority of East Indians were not included in the designation British Subjects. The time was considered ripe for concerted action. In November, 1825, a general meeting of East Indians was held at the residence of Mr. Wordsworth. Mr. DaCosta took the chair, and acting on the advice of a London firm of solicitors, Messrs. Collett, Wimboum and Collett, it was resolved at the meeting that a petition should be presented to the British Parliament, and that it should be drafted by a committee of seven — namely, Messrs. Wordsworth, DaCosta, G. Reed, J. L. Heatley, A. Imlach, H. Martindale, with J. W. Ricketts as Secretary. Mr. Thomas Edwards, in his Life of Derozio, describes the delays which prevented the Petition being ready for signature before March, 1829. It was then placed in the Town Hall for signature, and was published in the leading newspapers.

On the 20th April, 1829, a general meeting of the East Indians’ Petition Committee was held to appoint a delegate to present the document to the Houses of Parliament. Ricketts was unanimously elected Agent. He was the son of Ensign John Ricketts of the Bengal Engineers, who had fallen at the siege of Seringapatam. The orphaned boy had been brought to Calcutta, and placed in the Upper Military School. At the time of his selection as the bearer of the East Indians’ Petition, he was in the Board of Customs, Salt and Revenue Department. Subscriptions were called in, and over-ruling Ricketts’s offer to transact the business committed to him in return for his passage and bare expenses, he was held to stand in need of the wherewithal to support the status and character of an agent, and he was therefore authorised to draw the modest sum of £500 a year while he was in England. All preliminaries having been settled, Ricketts set sail for England in the Andromache, whose captain was R. L. Laws, and arrived in London on the 27th December, 1829.

The time chosen for Ricketts’s mission was in one sense propitious; in another it was not so. The spirit of liberalism was abroad in England, and its influence had reached India. In Great Britain, Cowper, Crabbe, Blake and Burns had invested the lives of the humbler orders of English society with nobility and grace. Wordsworth was preaching the fuller gospel of God and Nature and Man. Home legislation was considering the amelioration of the lower classes, and the annulment of the odious Test and Corporation Acts. On the Indian side of the world, sati, thaggi and infanticide, were in course of being suppressed, and measures were being elaborated for the spread of education to the masses. But had Ricketts and his compatriots been able to see into the immediate future, they would have realised that the year 1830 was not exactly the best year in which to take the East Indians’ Petition to Parliament. Ricketts, however, arrived in London, as has been said, on the 27th December, 1829. Parliament assembled on the 4th February, 1830. It had its hands full with a crop of difficult problems and critical situations. Scotland was turbulent. Ireland had fallen under the control of Daniel O’Connell, and was clamouring for Roman Catholics to be admitted as members of the Lower House. His Bill for universal suffrage, triennial parliaments, and votes by ballot had been tabled for discussion. The Royal Speech dwelt on the general distress from which commerce and agriculture were suffering, and upon the impoverished and hungry condition of the peasantry and labouring classes. The prospects of Parliamentary Reform and the extension of the franchise had never been so gloomy. The battle between Whig and Tory, under a change of designations, was being perpetuated between Liberals and Conservatives. The wave of popular excitement caused by the French Revolution was breaking on the shores of England. To add to the complexities of public affairs, the King died. Obviously, with so many and such urgent domestic matters to attend to, the members of Parliament were too absorbed in business nearer to their eyes and closer to their hearts, to take particular interest in Ricketts or the East Indians’ Petition. This was most unfortunate for Ricketts. Failing to make any progress with the India House, and after experiencing a good deal of the cold shoulder from certain members of Parliament whom he approached, he won the sympathy, and in varying degrees the co-operation, of Mr. William Wynn, Mr. Stuart Wortley, Sir James Macintosh, Mr. Wolryche Witmore, Sir Charles Forres, Lord Ashley, and Mr. John Stewart of the House of Commons, and of Lords Carlyle, Calthorpe, and Ellenborough of the House of Lords. Lord Peel and the Duke of Wellington expressed their regret that they were unable to grant Ricketts an interview.

In course of time the Right Hon’ble Mr. C. W. William Wynn presented the East Indians’ Petition to the House of Commons, and the Earl of Carlyle presented it to the House of Lords. Ricketts was examined at length by the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Affairs of the East India Company on the 31st March, 1830, and by the House of Commons on the 21st and 24th June, 1830.

Suddenly, but while Ricketts was still in England, Parliament was dissolved on the 24th July. He witnessed the election of a new Parliament which met on the 26th October. It dissolved within a few months after he had returned to India. The struggle was working up to the Reform Bill of 1832, and English statesmen and politicians, like the country itself, were still too engrossed with the conflict over franchise and boroughs, to attend to other matters — much less the affairs of a few East Indians in far off India.

Ricketts returned to India by the Linnæus (Captain B. Winder) which touched at Madras, where on the 3rd March, 1831, he was feted at a public dinner given in his honour. On his arrival in Calcutta a public meeting was held in the Town Hall on the 28th March, 1831, for the purpose of receiving his Report. After he had read it, a series of eloquent and appreciative speeches were made by Messrs. Heberlet, W. Kirkpatrick, and C. Pote. Derozio, Reed, Theobald, and Theodore Dickens who had had no faith in the efficacy of a petition to Parliament, and who had opposed the sending of a delegate to England, were not less warm in their acknowledgment of the service Ricketts had rendered. While he had been on his way back to India, the Government had been defeated. Parliament had been dissolved, and a new election had filled the seats of the Lower House with strangers unacquainted with the East Indians’ Petition, and the Government benches with statesmen and secretaries in no way pledged to deal sympathetically with its submissions. It was realised that, since one House of Commons is not compelled to take cognisance of petitions received by its predecessor, the results of Ricketts’s enterprise and endeavours might be nil. Pote and Derozio urged that no time should be lost in getting ready a Second Petition. Mr. Welsh in supporting their proposal remarked:— “It is to be regretted that the dissolution of Parliament has taken place, and that the all-engrossing interest excited in England in consequence of the late glorious events in France, and the still deep and breathless interest, which England must continue to feel in watching the aspects of Continental politics, should render it more likely that the present Parliament, harassed by more immediately important calls on its attention, will be unable to devote that patient investigation into the merits of Indian questions, which the approaching period of the Charter’s expiration so imperatively demands.” Derozio’s speech is a fine specimen of his style as a speaker:— “Do you suppose,” he said, “that any member of the Legislature, touched by so much tenderness, will address either House of Parliament in some such way as this? ‘Gentlemen, I am overflowing with the milk of human kindness, anxious to restore that long neglected and unjustly treated race, the East Indians, those rights, which they do not demand!’ No, Sir, such will never be the language of legislators: the benevolence of statesmen seldom incommodes them to such an alarming degree. But the very facts that Mr. Ricketts’s Report communicates to us should lead us to distrust noble Lords and honourable gentlemen. What are those facts? Lord Ashley felt for us! We thank his Lordship. He promised to present our Petition. This was generous. But when the time came for his Lordship’s hand to follow up the benevolent suggestion of his heart, that hand became suddenly paralysed. Weighty matters of State pressed upon his heart, and the Petition was left to make its own way into the House of Commons. I am apprehensive (though I only suggest the possibility of such a thing) that matters of State may be as burdensome to our other sympathetic friends in Parliament, and that such paralytic attacks, as, we see, do sometimes afflict Lord Ashley, may be common to others who are deeply interested in our welfare. To protect ourselves against such mischances, it would not perhaps be the most unwise course to petition the Legislature. Gentlemen, you have nothing to fear from firm and respectful remonstrance. Your calls for justice must be as incessant as your grievances are heavy. Complain again and again; complain till you are heard. Aye, and until you are answered. The ocean leaves traces of every inroad it makes upon the shore; but it must repeat those inroads with unabated strength, and follow them up with rapidity, before it washes away the strand.”

It was finally resolved to send another delegate to England with a Second Petition. As Ricketts could not make himself available, Pote offered to carry the Petition. In the end it was sent to Mr. John Crawford, who was resident in England, for presentation to Parliament. In the main it reiterated the submissions made in the First Petition. It does not appear that it was ever presented. At any rate nothing further is known about it.

The leading spirits in what is designated the East Indian movement of 1827-1830 began to scatter, and many of them died within the space of the few years following, — Derozio in 1831, Ricketts in 1835, and Kyd in 1836. Of Derozio and Ricketts we have portraits. Pote was commissioned to paint Ricketts in oils, and the portrait from his brush to-day hangs in the Committee room of the Anglo-Indian and Domiciled European Association, at 63, Park Street, Calcutta. To it has been added an oil of Derozio painted in 1926 by Mr. F. A. Teixeira.

The communal activities of the East Indians in the 1820’s had a local but nevertheless important result. It called forth the sympathy and good-will of friends in the country, who gave their moral support to the aspirations and reasoned demands of a patient and enduring section of the British inhabitants of India. The Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Agent of the Sagur and Narbada Territories, thus wrote in his Notes on Indian Affairs:— “Every attempt has been made to crush and keep them down, but in vain. They are rapidly increasing in numbers, and though slowly are making advances in education and wealth, and consequently in power and the means of acquiring it. The perception of this has induced thinking men to consider what is to become of them, and what is to be the result of the system hitherto in action towards them.” Mr. Bevan thus expressed his views:— “The Anglo-Indians are a rising, and already an influential body. They have newspapers in which the question of self-government has been frequently mooted and argued with sound constitutional knowledge, and yet with a calmness and temper belonging to points regarded as mere speculation.” The author of Sketches in India observed:— “Although they are not admitted to colonisation in India, a class connected with us by blood, language, habits, education and religion, is rapidly growing into consequence in point of numbers, possessions, awakened desires, enlarged and enlightened views. They are the small merchants, the citizens in fact of our Presidencies. They are shut out of the service of the Company; but that they are the subjects of the Company must never be forgotten. The British blood and the native blood in their veins are alike hateful to them; for the Englishman and the Hindu alike disclaim them: but as the light of knowledge beams upon them, they see and feel that ‘honour and shame from no condition rise.’ The revolution of a few short years will fearfully increase their numbers; and, if the moral and mental improvement of this class, now reckoning in it many men of talent, integrity, and piety, keeps pace with that increase, we must not expect, nor ought we to wish, that they should look upon themselves as outcasts, without a country they dare call their own; without the common privileges of free-born men, without eligibility to honour, wealth, or usefulness; nor to any share in the government of themselves.”

Chapter XII

Dupes of To-morrow

The web of our life is of mingled yarn,
Good and ill together.

As has been seen, the year 1830, the year in which Ricketts presented the East Indians’ Petition to Parliament, was inopportune because the House of Commons was preoccupied with matters of more immediate national urgency. There was a wave of public opinion sweeping over England in favour of the emancipation of the masses from the despotism of the aristocracy, the landed gentry, and the capitalist. It culminated in the Reform Bill of 1832, and in other parliamentary measures which ameliorated the condition of factory labourers and miners, and ransomed slaves in the colonies from the cruel thraldom of inhuman masters. The Parliament that effected these social and political reforms was naturally prepared to rectify defects in systems of government and trade in India. Indeed, a period of progress had set in, and within five years of Ricketts’s return to India, a series of events happened which, though they promoted the good of the larger number, and were symptomatic of a higher civilisation, nevertheless operated for the most part to involve Anglo-Indians in increased difficulties. The more important of these events were (1) the passing of Act 3 and 4, William IV, C. 85 more familiarly known as the Act for the Renewal of the Company’s Charter, 1833: (2) the opening of the overland route to India: (3) the liberation of slaves in India: and (4) the collapse of Indian banking houses.

(1) The Renewal of the Company’s Charter in 1833. The object of the Act mentioned towards the close of the last paragraph was to effect an arrangement with the East India Company for the better government of His Majesty’s Indian Territories. By it the East India Company was required to confine its activities solely to the governing of India — the superintendence, direction, and control of the whole civil and military government being vested in the Governor-General of India in Council. The Company ceased to be a commercial body whether in India or China, trade with which countries was thrown open to every British subject. Sanction was given to such subjects to acquire landed property in any part of British Indian territories. Section 87 enacted — and this doubtless was not uninfluenced by the East Indians’ Petition — that “no native of the said territories, nor any natural born subject of His Majesty resident therein, shall, by reason of his religion, place of birth, descent, colour, or any of them be disabled from holding any place, office, or employment under the said Company.” A committee designated “The Indian Law Commission” was appointed to codify criminal law and procedure, “due regard being had to the distinction of caste, difference of religion, and the manners and opinions prevailing among different races.” Finally, steps were to be taken for the aboliton of slavery in India.

It will be noticed that the scope of these provisions covered the points raised by the East Indians’ Petition; and it was not unnatural that expectations ran high in the Community that the army would now be thrown open to them. In this and other matters they were disappointed, for Section 87 proved to be one of those “juggling fiends”

“That keep the word of promise to our ear,
But break it to our hope.”

In theory every “place, office or employment under the said Company was thrown open to every race, colour, or creed. In reality it was only the uncovenanted and subordinate grades which were bestowed upon Indians and Anglo-Indians. The higher services were not declared reserved, but they were tantamount to being reserved, since it was ruled that they could be filled only by recruitment in England. But a side wind blew in favour of Anglo-Indians. About this time English supplanted Persian as the official language of the courts and Government offices, although it had always been the medium of correspondence in commercial houses. Comparatively few Indians were well acquainted with English, and consequently the better posts under Government fell to the lot of Anglo-Indians who had for some years established their schools and had in them received a liberal education. Lord William Bentinck and the Anglicists, led by Lord Macaulay, determined that the linguistic disadvantage of Indians should be removed, and accordingly instruction in English was ordered to be imparted in Indian schools. To give effect to this policy, under the fostering care of the General Committee of Public Instruction, the approved practice was for the Head Master to be a Domiciled European or an Anglo-Indian. Indians, ever creditably alert to their interests, applied themselves eagerly to attain proficiency in English, and within a few years the Anglo-Indian monopoly of the higher uncovenanted appointments ceased, and Indians divided honours with them in the services of Government.

It will be remembered that in the opening years of the last century, Anglo-Indians finding themselves barred from the military and civil services of the Company, had wisely taken to trades and industries as a means of gaining their livelihood. In the charity schools, pupils specialised in handicrafts — carpentry, shoe-making, book-binding, etc. Others were apprenticed as seamen, bandsmen, printers, indigo planters, and leadsmen. The girls were taught needlework, dress-making, house-keeping, lace-making, and so forth. Schools were graded to meet the requirements of the classes from which they drew their pupils. The Upper Orphanage, the Parental Academy, La Martiniere, St Xavier’s, and Ardwise Academy gave a liberal education following the lines of the public schools in England, and thus fitted their pupils for the higher appointments under the Company; while the schools for the poorer sections of the Community equipped their scholars for gaining their livelihood in the humbler walks of trades, industries, and manual occupations. But just about this time, the wars in which England was involved with France claimed all her manhood; and consequently the demand for Anglo-Indians to fill the positions of British servants of the Company recalled from India, made new openings for local hands. Appointments in the lower and upper services of Government, now brought within the reach of Anglo-Indians, began to find favour with them over trades and industries. The latter were accordingly abandoned, and in seizing the shadow of Government service, the Community made the fatal mistake of letting slip from their hands the freedom, independence, and competence which industrial vocations might have perpetuated to them. It may be that the hereditary craft system of their Indian neighbours led them to think trades and handicrafts inferior to subordinate Government appointments, and to turn their backs upon the humbler avocations which had stood them in good stead in the days of their leanness. However that may be, it was an economic error, and eventually contributed to the decline of Anglo-Indian prosperity.

(2) The Opening of the Overland Route to India. The voyage to India via the Cape of Good Hope occupied six months, and involved perils by water and minor trials innumerable. The cost was necessarily prohibitive except to those who had ample means. Further, the East India Company had the monopoly of the trade with India, and jealously did they guard their prescriptive right. No one was permitted to board an Indiaman who could not produce a certificate of appointment, and a licence to proceed to India. The free-merchant and the “interloper” had somehow to evade the production of a licence to proceed to India, or he never got there. In 1823 a certain Miss Graham alighted from a ship at Calcutta, but failed to produce her “permit.” She was summoned to appear before the Governor-General, and was compelled to return to England by the next vessel homeward bound! The East India Vade Mecum, the official guide book of the Company, states: — “It may be taken as some guide that outward bound, a slip including one window, may produce from £200 to £300; and that the several mates’ cabins may be averaged from £3 to £5 for every square foot of the enclosed area.” The 1810 issue of the same authorised work relates that no English lady could be conveyed to India “under respectable circumstances throughout, for less than £500.”12

The Renewal of the Charter in 1833 rendered “passes” and letters of appointment unnecessary. Anyone could go to and fro between England and India at pleasure. But this freedom from restrictions would not have removed the other obstacle to voyaging to India — its costliness. That too was presently overcome. Through the enterprise of Lieutenant Waghora and the enlightened co-operation of Lord William Bentinck, Governor-General, the overland route to India by way of the Red Sea, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea, was opened up (1835). The moment this route was available, large numbers of educated and adventurous young Englishmen came out to India on the invitation of relatives or friends to try their fortune in the East. Every avenue of employment was open to those who had the necessary qualifications. If they had friends or relatives on the spot they were soon found in positions. Indeed, they naturally obtained preferential treatment, and Anglo-Indians thereby received a set-back. The new arrivals either came out with their wives, or sent for them on the first opportunity. With them and their families began the Domiciled European Community of India, who by the passage of years, by exposure to the same disabilities, by sharing the same permanent interests, and by being assigned the status of Statutory Natives of India, have merged into the Anglo-Indian Community, to form with them a political and social unit officially designated by Government “the Anglo-Indian Constituency.”

The influx of Englishmen and their families into India continued with comparative stability until the Public Services Commission of the 1880’s created the Imperial and the Provincial Services. It was in the main for positions allotted to the Provincial Service that the Englishman of the middle and lower-middle classes had been eligible. But when the Public Services Commission reserved the provincial grade of appointments to Indians, the field was closed against all who were not Indians by statutory law, and Britishers ceased to come out for them. The intervening fifty years, however, had sufficed to introduce into India a fairly large English Community of unmixed blood, which had lost touch with England and kinsfolk at home; which had not the means to return to the British Isles; and which had become to all intents and purposes part of the permanent British population of India.

The reduction of the cost of voyaging to India, the development of the propulsion of ships by steam, and the advances made in the science of navigation, increased the facility with which English women could come out to India. This had one important result — it accelerated a movement which had had its inception during the administration of Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793), namely, condemnation of mixed marriages. In earlier times the morality of the Company’s servants had been merely that of the England of the day. The morality, or rather the immorality, of the first two Georges of England, had infected their Court, and had filtered down, to pollute the nation. George the Third, however, “waived the royal prerogative of gilding vice and dispensing lechery from the palace,” and during his reign the moral pendulum of English society swung back to higher ethical standards. The reaction spread to India, where the private life and public character of Lord Cornwallis set bounds to the libertine and debauched practices that had been current in the time of his predecessors. Laxity of conduct fell into disrepute. Gambling, drinking, and obscenity skulked in sequestered corners. And as English women were more easily brought out to India, and were coming out in yearly increasing numbers, there was a general uplifting and refining of English society in the country. From this time onwards intermarriage with Indians ceased to find justification; and the ladies in the settlements and cities of the Company marked in no mistakeable manner their disdain for those of their fellow countrymen who resiled from decent living, and lowered race prestige by self-indulgence.

(3) The Liberation of Slaves in India. When European nations first came into relations with India, they found slavery an established institution, widespread and universal. The East India Company in taking over from the Mughals the reins of government, perpetuated existing laws and customs, including those concerned with bondsmen. People did not entertain paid servants. And so it came about that even in European and Anglo-Indian homes, and on the establishments of the East India Company, there were slaves — male and female. A correspondent to the Bengal Chronicle thus wrote to that paper in 1831:— “That slavery exists in Calcutta is a fact too notorious to be denied. Slaves of both sexes are generally purchased from indigent Hindoo and Hindoostani mothers. A young girl will bring according to her age and usefulness from 16 up to 100 rupees. The traffic is resorted to generally by Catholics to supply themselves with domestics; and, I am sorry to say, a few who profess the Protestant Faith, though only in outward appearance, are also concerned with this inhuman traffic.”

When slaves were introduced into a Christian family the usual practice was to administer to them the rite of baptism, and to give them European or Biblical names. Portuguese missionaries and vicars, touched by the unhappy lot of slaves in the houses of many Indians, and desirous of mitigating their sufferings, on occasion went to the ghauts of the river Hughli, and in Christian charity bought up whole consignments of children brought to Calcutta for sale into slavery. They baptised the children, most of whom had been stolen from their parents, and sold them to their parishioners. The money thus realised was reinvested in the purchase of more children who were dealt with in the same fashion. The usual cdnditions under which these children were sold were that they would be permitted to enjoy the ministrations of the clergy; that they would be taught to read and write English, and to “cypher”; and that they would not be harshly treated. When the slaves grew up, they intermarried, and their children were born into slavery. There were cases, however, in which they married into the family of their master, particularly when the family had been overtaken by adversity.

The renewal of the Charter in 1833 provided for the abolition of slavery in the possessions of the East India Company; and accordingly during the administration of Earl Grey measures were promulgated for the liberation of slaves in British India. But in order that a vast multitude of slaves should not suddenly be let loose upon the country, it was enacted that domestic slaves were to be apprenticed by their masters for a period of six years, and trained to a profession. But now happened what no one had expected. The liberated slaves, unbeknown to themselves that they were doing what manumitted Roman slaves had done centuries ago, in gratitude assumed the surnames of their late masters. Their descendants for the most part survive in the slums of large cities, and although they are classed as Anglo-Indians, as a matter of fact they have rarely any drop of English blood running in their veins. They are Indians pure and simple — not that there is anything derogatory in this. But, nevertheless, incalculable wrong — educational, social and material — has for generations been suffered by the Anglo-Indian Community by the popular identification of the descendants of slaves with the descendants of those who were the owners of slaves. They form an incubus and a drag which weighs down the Anglo-Indian Community, already labouring under a grievous burden of disabilities, borne amid inhospitable environments, economic depression, and unequal competition with other races in the country.

(4) The Collapse of Banking Houses. Troubles never come singly. At the time that Anglo-Indians were struggling against the rising tide of competitipn due to the abolition of the Company’s patronage in making appointments to its services, and the influx of Europeans as a result of the opening of the overland route, a new calamity, which drew rich and poor into its net, overtook them with startling suddenness. In consequence of the relaxation in the Company’s Charter of 1814 of the orders against the entrance of free-merchants, the latter had been multiplying in the three Presidencies, and the more prominent of them operated in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The Company itself conducted no banking establishments; and the defect was made good by private merchants attaching a banking department to their commercial business. Civil and military officers deposited their savings in these banks, with the result, as it afterwards transpired, that the free-merchants conducted their commercial enterprises and those of their friends with money that was not their own. Encouraged by initial successes, they became more daring and embarked on schemes of reckless gambling. The fever of speculation spread, and relays of adventurers sallied forth from Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow to make their fortunes out of the only capital in their possession — unbounded optimism. Indigo, silk, cotton, sugar, every thing and any thing was speculated in with a prodigality and unscrupulousness that was amazing. The savings of the widow and orphan; the prize-money of the private soldier; the hard earnings of the clerk; and the modest capital of the cautious tradesman, were all annexed in the gamble. The bubble burst. Ruin overtook thousands. Owing to their traditionary practice of hoarding their savings, Indians, however, escaped unscathed. But countless Anglo-Indian families, whose sheet anchor had been their deposits in the banks, were reduced to beggary. The firm of Alexander and Co., failed for £4,000,000, Fergusson and Co., for £3,000,000; Palmer and Co., for £3,000,000; and Mackintosh and Co., for £2,500,000. The remaining firms failed for £2,500,000. The loss to the creditors amounted in all to £11,250,000, and the average dividend paid was between 6 per cent. and 36½ per cent.

No legal action was taken against the directors of these companies. To replace them military and civil officers founded the Agra Bank. The Bank of Bengal was presently established on condition that one-fifth of its shares and its direction should be in the hands of the local Government. The Union Bank and the North-Western Bank of India were floated. They were in reality large loan societies, and naturally had no lack of customers. The Union Bank advanced half a million sterling to another bank which was tottering to its fall. This bank pulled itself together, but the Union Bank without any warning closed its doors in January, 1848. For some reason or other it had found special favour with Anglo-Indians, and, for the second time within twenty years, hundreds of families were reduced to poverty. The catastrophe reacted on their schools, the preparation of their young men for careers, and their standard of living. They had to yield ground to the emigrant from England, while their fellow Indian subjects were afforded an opportunity of gaining on them in the competition for Government appointments. It was by an heroic effort that the Parental Academy, St. Paul’s School, and St Xavier’s College were retained in a state of efficiency. In truth the Community had received a blow which for a time numbed its energies and prostrated its powers of recuperation.

Chapter XIII

Bricks in Empire Building

Not always full of leaf, nor ever Spring,
Not endless night, nor yet eternal day;
The saddest birds a season find to sing.
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay;
Thus, with succeeding turns, God tempereth all.
Robert Southwell

From 1835 and onwards the Governments of Lord William Bentinck and his successors concentrated upon so educating the Indians that they might be fitted to be public servants. In 1842 the Council of Education was formed, and it took control of the five Indian Colleges then in Bengal. To encourage Indians to seek education in English, Government and aided Indian schools were required annually to submit returns of pupils who, having passed the Senior English School Examination, merited appointment to the services. Anglo-Indian schools were not included in the operation of this scheme; and in spite of remonstrances from their authorities, for a series of years Anglo-Indian youths were passed over when appointments were being made in the government departments. In 1853 Company’s Charter was renewed, and immediately on this followed in 1854 the celebrated Halifax Educational Despatch, and in 1859 Lord Stanley’s Educational Despatch. Both these epoch making documents advanced Indian education, but their provisions took no account of Anglo-Indian schools. In 1856 the Universities of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were founded.

All this was excellent in its own way, but did not alter the fact that although everything possible was done for the education of Indians, nothing was done for the education of Anglo-Indians, who had still to maintain their schools and colleges without any grants-in-aid or other encouragement from the Government. In itself this possibly was not a misfortune for the community, in so far as it made them self-reliant and resourceful; but in that it resulted in unequal competition between them and Indians it was not faultless statesmanship. Fortunately for them, in the interval new fields of labour had been opening up. In 1825 the first railways had run in England, thus superseding the transport of goods and passengers by canals, stage-coaches, and carrying companies, of whom Carter Paterson & Co. are perhaps the best-known survivors. In India there were broad rivers, and companies were formed to use them as highways now that river craft could be propelled by steam. Operations were begun on the Indus and Ganges upon which fleets of inland steamers commenced to ply. They were officered by Anglo-Indians, who had been instructed on the training ship on the Hughli. In 1851 the telegraph system was introduced. The laying of its lines required camping out in jungles, crossing hills infested with wild beasts and noxious reptiles, and living in places remote from food supplies. In 1845, on the initiation of Sir (then Mr.) R. Macdonald Stephenson — an honoured name in India when the steam engine is mentioned — the East Indian Railway was projected. Simultaneously railway schemes were set on foot in Madras and Bombay. The first train in India ran from Bombay to Thana in 1853. In 1854 the East Indian Railway conveyed passengers from Howrah to Pandua, and in 1855 from Howrah to Ranigunge then the heart of the coal-fields. In 1856 the Madras Railway was worked as far as Arcot. Years had been spent in surveying the routes for the telegraph and railway systems. This preliminary stage, as well as the work of actual construction, needed operators of various descriptions, who were willing to endure the hardships, risks and perils of pioneers. Such work did not appeal to Indians, whose knowledge of books had not given them a taste for the marshes and fens through which rivers threaded their way, for the solitude of remote places on the plains, for the dangers attending the penetration of forests and hills, for the privations inseparable from months spent in the wilds. The Anglo-Indians, therefore, found no competitors, and did work which but for them could never have been done in the country. They furnished the navigation companies with captains, second officers, engineers, and mechanics. From them were recruited telegraph operators, artisans and electricians. They supplied the railways with station staffs, engine drivers, permanent way inspectors, guards, auditors — in fact every higher grade of railway servant. The expansion of the postal system, now possible owing to the organisation of railways, threw open another avenue of employment to them, and they were appointed to the more responsible positions.

Some speak of Chance, others of Providence. However that may be, it was fortunate when the Sepoy Mutiny broke out, that the telegraph, postal and railway, and public works services were manned by Anglo-Indians, and that in consequence there were throughout the affected areas or on the way to them groups of Europeans and Anglo-Indians — men prepared to stand by the East India Company till the last die had been cast. What if it had not been so? What if Anglo-Indians had used their numbers and fighting qualities to reinforce the malcontents and rebels? Undoubtedly they had much to resent. They had been disqualified for the Company’s and the King’s armies in India. They had received step-motherly treatment in the matter of education. They had been denied fellowship with their kinsmen, socially as well as legally. They had known years of leanness and want. For many years they had been a proscribed race. They might have verified the warning of Lord Valentia that there might come a time when, under the leadership of Anglo-Indians, Indians would drive the English out of India, as the mulattoes and negroes had thrust the Spaniards out of South America and San Domingo. The Court of Directors, it will be remembered, had planned to make the possible impossible. But throughout there had been a miscalculation. The Englishman is not a Spaniard. The Anglo-Indian is not a mulatto. However much and however often she may have erred in her dealings with her colonies and dependencies, England has never ruled them as the Spaniards ruled Hayti. And so it was that in the Sepoy Revolt the Anglo-Indians unwaveringly fought for their kinsmen across the seas. Banishing every sentiment of resentment and every impulse to avenge the palpable wrongs they had suffered at the hands of the East India Company — as formerly in the Maratha Wars, so again in the Indian Mutiny, they rallied to the British flag. History recounts with shame and humiliation that British traitors were found in the enemy’s camp — but never an Anglo-Indian. Oft-times it looked as if they were on the losing side. But they never vacillated. The brave deeds of their brave men, and the courage of their heroic women illumine the pages of history. How they bore themselves in England’s darkest hour; how Brendish saved the Punjab; Forgett, Bombay; Hearsey, Calcutta; would take a volume to relate. It may not be recounted in these pages, nor may the share Anglo-Indians took in the Great War of 1914 to 1918. Suffice it to say, that in the latter crisis they gave a larger percentage of their manhood than any Colony or Dependency in the British Empire. Of the many races in India, they were the first to offer for military service. The old boys of their schools officered the new and even the permanent Indian troops. They were found in every branch of His Majesty’s Forces, whether land, sea, or air. They fought at Gallipoli, on the Marne, and on every front. It was a youth born in India that brought down the first enemy Zeppelin. And now that the War is over they form two-thirds of the Auxiliary Force which is the second line of defence in India. Another pen will doubtless some day record the Anglo-Indian side of the story of the Indian Mutiny and the Great War. It is our proud boast that England has never had cause to be ashamed of the Hostages she has given to India.

Chapter XIV


All I could ever be,
All men ignored in me,
This was I worth to God,
Whose wheel the pitcher shaped.
Robert Browning

This historical narrative has been brought down to the time of the Indian Mutiny, an event of comparatively recent date. But before closing, let us pass in rapid review the chequered story of our race, and consider its present position.

In the days when our forefathers insecurely owned but a few acres of Indian soil, we stood by them in the hour of storm and stress. We took our place at their side when they were defending themselves behind mud walls which weakly protected their warehouses and settlements. We fought for them against Indian Chiefs and ambitious rivals. We contributed to their victories. We shared in their disasters. When European wars on the Continent claimed every available recruit for the home forces, we augmented their depleted armies in India. We explored the markets which swelled their trade and expanded their commerce. When they entered upon the consolidation of their Empire in India, we formed the wheels, the cranks, the levers of their machinery for government. Through our agency revenue and settlement operations, land-surveys and road-making became possible. But for us the telegraph and postal systems, river navigation and railway construction would not have been feasible. We were the first missionaries of the Christian religion, the earliest teachers in Indian schools, the pioneers of Western arts, industries, and sciences. In truth, we took a leading part in every project that tended to advance the moral, material, and intellectual prosperity of the land — our land — and its peoples.

And yet we are of those who have come out of great tribulation. We have trod the thorny path of repression. We have struggled through wrongs sufficient to crush out of existence most races. That we to-day retain the essential traits, instincts and culture of our forefathers, is remarkable testimony to the virility of the British nation. If England is the land of our fathers, India is the land of our mothers. If to us England is a hallowed memory, India is a living verity. If England is the land of our pilgrimage, India is the land of our homes. If England is dear as a land of inspiring traditions, India is loved for all that she means to us in our daily life. Although perhaps we seldom realise it, we have cousins in India as well as in England. Only we have lost sight of both. If we lean so heavily to our fathers’ side, it is because the creeds and customs of our mothers’ people so ordained it. Themselves the victims of a tyrannical caste system and religious orthodoxy, as they have in the present, so they had in the past, no option but to repudiate our consanguinity. On the other hand, the British have always claimed us as kinsfolk. We have our immediate interests vested in India, and we naturally identify ourselves with the social, economic, and political development and aspirations of our mother-country. We would live amicably and on terms of mutual trust and respect with our Indian fellow-countrymen, and we would have them reciprocate our sentiments. Sir Campbell Rhodes recently reminded the Indian Legislative Assembly that its Indian and European Members are the joint trustees of Anglo-Indians inasmuch as these are the blood-relatives of both Europeans and Indians. In truth we are England’s Hostages to India, and they who give and they who receive hostages are bound to regard them as a trust. If Indians only realised this, our economic and political position would not seem to us so desperate as it now appears. If the 320 million Indians acknowledged us, a microscopic minority of 121,000 souls, as a trust held by them as well as by the British, we would not dread, as we now do, the gift of a large instalment of Responsible Government to India. But so long as Indians identify us with the British, the question for every Briton to ask himself is — “When full measure of Self-Government is given to India, what will be the fate of our descendants and kinsmen in that land?” In the circumstances, we must look to the British Parliament to safeguard our interests — our religion, our education, our admission into the public services. If India is to have Dominion Status, England must demand, and India must guarantee, that we are effectively protected as Citizens of India. We do not seek preferential treatment. We aspire to equal partnership, and for this reason we must not be called upon to sacrifice anything which our Indian fellow-countrymen retain. We cannot give up our Christian Faith, our British ideals, our Western culture. Ask the devout Hindu to exchange his ancestral caste for secular advantage. Ask the pious Musalman to abandon his holy creed for temporal gain. Ask us to sell our British heritage for a mess of political pottage. In every case the answer is instant and clear. Ours speaks in the heart of each of us. It throbs in the blood that mingles with our breath. It leaps to our lips in the soul-stirring appeal —

O England! who are these if not thy Sons?”

  1. “The Christians who call themselves Portuguese, always formed part of a garrison. . . . They are incorporated with the Company’s European troops. From wearing a hat (topi) these pretended Portuguese obtained amongst the natives of India the name of Topasses, by which name the Europeans likewise distinguish them.”— Lt.-Col. W. J. Wilson, History of the Madras Army.

    “Having often used the word Fringy I think it needful to explain the sense I would be understood to have of that word. By Fringy I mean all the black Messtee [N.B, A corruption of the Portuguese mestico = mixed.) Portuguese Christians residing in the settlement as a people distinct from the natural and proper subjects of Portugal.”---Holwell’s Letter to Drake, President and Governor of Bengal, dated the 16th June, 1755. 

  2. In several cantonment stations there may still be seen attached to what were originally the bungalows of military officers, the outhouse which had been built for the accommodation of an Indian wife or concubine. It is usually linked on to the main building by screening boundary walls. In palliation, one sometimes finds the pleas put forward that concubinage was an expedient imposed by necessity: that the English officer dwelt more in camps than in settlements: that the army was perpetually on the move: that life was a series of thrilling adventures: and sudden death, the common expectation.  

  3. In 1833 when the Bill of that year was before the Houses of Parliament, many notable persons who had an intimate knowledge of India were nervous as to the wisdom of suppressing by legislation slavery — an institution which from time immemorial had had the sanctions of religion and usage. Among them was the Duke of Wellington, who thus expressed himself in the House of Lords:— “I must recommend the striking of this clause (Clause 88) from the Bill. I know that in the hut of every Mussalman soldier in the Indian Army, there is a female slave, who accompanies him in all his marches: and I would recommend to Your Lordships not to deal lightly with this matter if you wish to retain your sovereignty in India.”  

  4. This picture may be regarded as true of the smaller settlements, and of very early times. The East India Company were not altogether neglectful of the educational needs of their civil and military servants’ children. In 1670 the Directors enquired into the condition under which European and Anglo-Indian children were growing up, and in 1673 appointed to their establishment at Fort St. George a Scotch preacher named Pringle. He conducted a school for the children of Portuguese and British fathers. In 1678 he, was succeeded by Mr. Ralph Ord. In 1692 the supervision of the school was made over to the Chaplain of Madras. Originally the medium of instruction was a debased form of Portuguese. In 1715 the medium was changed to English. 

  5. In passing it may be observed that the variations in the physical constitution, features and complexions of Anglo-Indians correspond to the Indian races from which the mother was derived. The operations of the Mendelian Law are remarkably visible in the Anglo-Indian family and community.  

  6. The Portuguese, Dutch and English forces did not include Indian sepoys. The French were the first to train and discipline Indian troops, and retain them as a recognised wing of their standing army. Meadows Taylor, in his Confessions of a Thug, says that in 1750 the Hon. East India Company began to equip and train Indians after the manner of European soldiers in imitation of their French rivals, who had already made good progress in training the miserable Kafirs of Telingana to fight in the ranks, and to perform evolutions that are truly wonderful.”  

  7. Under the year 1746, Orme in his History of Hindostan writes thus:— “The European troops in the service of the colonies established in Hindostan never consist entirely of natives of that country to which the colony belongs; on the contrary, one half at least was composed of men of all the nations in Europe. The Christians who call themselves Portuguese, always formed part of a garrison . . . . They learn the manual exercises with sufficient readiness and are clad like Europeans. They are incorporated into the companies of European troops. From wearing a topi (hat) these pretended Portuguese obtained amongst the natives of India the name of Topasses; by which name the Europeans likewise distinguish them.”

    Talboys Wheeler’s History of India tells us that in 1673 “the English population of White Town scarcely numbered 300 souls. The Portuguese population of Black Town numbered 3,000; for they had taken refuge in Fort St. George when driven out of St. Thome some ten years previously, and were welcomed at the time as adding to the security and prosperity of the settlement.”

    In the Chittagong District the Firingis still have their home. Mr. W. H. Thompson in the Census Report for 1921 tells us that they are the remnants of the Portuguese and Mugh pirates who once infested the Bay of Bengal. Some of them have in recent years adopted the class designation of Luso-Indians, and had for a time an Association in Calcutta. Dr. J. J. Campos’s work on the Indo-Portuguese Community will well repay perusal.

    That the Topasses or Firingis were not of British paternity is apparent from the following quotation from Col. Wilson’s valuable work entitled The Madras Army. In 1797 orders were issued for the formation of a Regiment of Militia composed of nine companies for the defence of Fort St George and Black Town (Madras) during the absence of the Company’s regular troops at Seringapatam — “two companies of gentlemen in the service; two other of European gentlemen not in the service; three of Europeans not belonging to the classes mentioned above; three companies of Portuguese half-castes, and one company of Armenians.” Who could the Europeans “not belonging to the classes mentioned” be but Anglo-Indians?

    The following order dated the 26th June, 1821 is more specific:— The Hon’ble the Governor-in-Council having been pleased to resolve that a corps of Artificers shall be raised for the service of this Preadency (Madras) consisting for the present of one Sergeant Major, 10 Sergeant Instructors and 100 Artificers, directs that it shall be composed of sons of Europeans born in India, and that it be denominated the Corps of “The Carnatic Ordnance Artificers” . . . . “They will be enlisted as European soldiers, will be paid, mustered and returned accordingly . . . . The Artificers will be clothed in the usual Ordnance uniform agreeable to the mode that obtains with respect to European troops The Military Board will adopt measures for recruiting the corps of Carnatic Ordnance Artificers by enlisting boys not under 14 years of age from the Military Asylum, the Fort School, and other charitable institutions.”  

  8. It was not till 1835 that it was legal for British subjects to acquire landed properly within the Company’s dominions; and at all times there has been strong objection to the acquidtion of land in Native States.  

  9. It would be a digression from the scope of this book to relate the thrilling story of individual Anglo-Indian heroes of whom James Skinner, Hyder Young Hearsay, and Col. Henry Forster, are notable examples. The reader is referred to such works as J. Baillie Fraser’s Military Memoirs of Lieut-Col. Jos. Skinner, C.B. (London 1851), Annals of the Irregular Horse; The Hearsays, Five Generations of an Anglo-Indian Family, by Col. Hugh Pearse (Blackwood & Co.), etc.  

  10. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 proved how much was to be “dreaded from them”! Brendish saved the Punjab. Hearsay saved Calcutta. Forgett saved Bombay. The Martiniere boys defended the Lucknow Residency. The Madras Fusiliers covered themselves with glory. 

  11. Indians in these days complain of oppression and wrongs. Have they ever experienced the degrading and cruel repression meted out to Anglo-Indians by their fathers’ people? 

  12. The same authority states that “the number of European women to be found in Bengal and its dependencies cannot amount to 250, while the male population (European) of respectability, including military officers, may be taken at about 4,000.”