Recollections

In 1869, aged 66, Edward Hume Townsend set out to write a journal about the principal events of his life but never completed it; to our great loss as he ended his career in India as Secretary to the Bombay Government and Revenue Commissioner to The Presidency of Bombay. What we have is a frank, personal account covering the first 25 years of his life, written in a very legible hand covering 33 pages in a parchment-bound book measuring 7 inches by 9 inches. We read of his childhood memories, his close relatives, his schooldays in Ireland and Westminster, his studies at the East India Company College, his arrival in Bombay on 10th June 1822 and his early years in India. It concludes abruptly with his return to Bombay after he fell seriously ill in Bangalore, with what appears to be malaria, before returning to Ireland on furlough in 1828. The continued page numbering in the book in his own handwriting shows he intended to write more, as he set out at the beginning of the journal.

Edward returned to India in 1831 shortly after his marriage and finally left the country in 1852 following a distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service. The first page of the journal is reproduced in Edward’s ‘Scrapbook’.

Clarification or commentary in the body of the text is shown in italics.

A very dear child has requested me to leave for the information of my children some word of the principal events of my life so far as I know or recall them to mind. I commence the task at once painful and pleasant; full of sad remembrances; of many very dear ones who have passed away; of boundless mercies received from a generous God and of failures on my part in availing myself, as I should have done, of the many advantages and generous opportunities placed within my reach.

I was born in the city of Cork on September 3rd, 1803, in the house of Doctor Atterbury, near the South Terrace. My father, the Reverend Richard Townsend, fourth son of the Reverend Edward Synge Townsend, was the rector of Magourny, diocese of Cork. My mother was Henrietta Mary Hume second daughter of the Very Reverend John Hume, Dean of Derry. My parents first met at Killarney in the house of Mr Herbert of Cahirmore. My grandfather, the Dean, with his taste for picturesque scenery, made visits to Killarney to be among his choicest recreations and many paintings and drawings of his, which I still posses, show what use he made of his opportunities.

Of my early life at Magourny I have got a few childish recollections. Once my parents took me and my little sister, named Jane, to my grandfather‘s house in County Donegal - Glenalla. My only recollection of this visit is that of seeing my little sister sick near the fire in a bedroom which is situated above the drawing room. My little sister died about this time. In 1808 my father caught a heavy cold, by means of wet feet; this soon turned to dropsy. My parents went to Cork for medical advice and I was left in the charge of an old woman Mrs McCarthy and young servant lad, Mr McKenna. How long I remained I cannot say but that was a very cheerless time for me. My father’s brother the Reverend Philip Townsend used to come to dinner but he was a grave, silent man who had no attraction for a child of between four and five years old.

By day I was mostly in the charge of the lad William, who probably found me a troublesome charge. On one occasion when I was in the dining room at Magourny he ran in and told me to hide myself as there was a large bird in the drawing room which had come to carry me off. He then proceeded to the next room, shut the door between the rooms and began to make a great noise with the chairs; shortly after he returned and told me that he had had a great battle with the bird and had driven him away. I remained for a time in terror under the table. Parents little know what dramas their children face when their backs are turned.

My next remembrance is of a room where I was a stranger: a maid servant, Margaret McKenna, had in her lap an infant, my little brother John Hume. I was afterwards in another room downstairs where my father and mother sat on the sofa, near the fire; he looked very grave and quite unlike his former self, this was at night. We were in the city of Cork as I afterwards learned. I next remember a room with a bed in it, on which my father sat and drank something out of a cup - some of its contents were given to me, they were like milk and sweet. Early one morning I was up and Margaret dressed me: my mother was still in bed, the room darkened. My grandfather Hume came in: he threw his arms around my mother; both cried a great deal. I did not understand what had passed between them, but long afterwards I was told that his words were “come, return to your poor old father”. I was told by Margaret that papa was dead. I cannot remember what idea those words gave me, but afterwards in broad daylight I was taken into a room along with my mother and someone else. I saw my father’s face and form on a bed, pale and motionless, the eyes shut. It was like him and yet most unlike. My mother knelt by the bed so I believe I did. I entered another room where I saw my grandfather again, I said “papa is dead“ and he replied “don’t mention it”. I hardly understood him but now know what death is.

One morning I had a new dress put on me - a similar one was put on my baby brother, these I was told were our new nankeens. The next thing I remember was travelling in two coaches; Margaret, someone else, little John and I in one, my grandparents and mother in the other. As we were going along a wheel of our carriage came off and we very nearly but not quite capsized. The other carriage drove off and I think our driver and horses followed them leaving us on the road; our position was unpleasant on every account and I felt alarmed. However, after some delay, a fresh carriage came for us and conveyed us to Ballyporeen (Co Tipperary), where we found my mother. I never saw Ballyporeen from that day to this. I have no remembrance of the rest of our journey, nor of our arrival in Glenalla, which was in the month of March as I have heard.

I remember one evening in the drawing room of Glenalla eating my supper with my mother and grandfather on each side of me. I spilled my porringer of milk and began to cry. “Don’t cry” said my grandfather “you are five year’s old today”; this must have been 3 September 1808. Before this my little brother had died; his disease was croup caught almost immediately after our arrival at Glenalla. My poor mother was thus left a widow with an only child, but she had most loving parents.

My grandfather John Hume, Dean of Derry (Londonderry), was an Englishman; his first preferment in the church was obtained from his uncle, Bishop Hume of Salisbury. He was a tall handsome man with a high nose and small blue eyes. He was a witty, agreeable man, as I afterwards learned. He was a pupil of Westminster School and Christchurch, Oxford. He married Jane Murray, whom he first met in Salisbury at the house of his uncle, the Bishop. What caused my grandmother’s visit to Salisbury at so early a period of her life, I never heard. Her own birth and parentage are in the north of Ireland. Her father, Captain Murray, was by birth (I believe) a Scot from the neighbourhood of Dumfries; their family place was Broughton, (or some such name). I saw the place when travelling with my dear mother and grandparents in 1817 through Scotland on our return to Londonderry from England where we had spent nearly two years. Captain Murray married Miss Johnstone, an Irish heiress. They lived at a place called Castle Murray in Co Donegal on a peninsula on Mulroy Lough (Mulroy Bay) called generally, ‘Between the Waters’.

Miss Johnstone had some property near Lough Swilly and some in Queen’s County. The first of these, ‘Glenalla’, was a bare, wild spot among the hills. Captain Murray spent some time in America engaged I believe in the fruitless attempt to subdue the insurgents there. He had five children - four daughters and one son - the former were Mrs Fleming, Mrs Hume, Mrs Searle, Mrs Johnson. The first of these was a widow when I first remember her and childless. My grandmother had three children - viz Aunt Hart (Maria Murray), my mother (Henrietta Murray) and Alicia who died young. My Aunt Searle (whose name was Euphemia) married first an Irish barrister named Moffat, a clever and good man I believe. He died young leaving no child. Lt Searle, a young English naval officer won the heart of Mrs Moffat at Glenalla and after a few years took her to England, where she attained a ripe old age, surviving her husband who was some years her junior. She had no children. To my dear mother and me she was the kindest of aunts. Mrs Johnson lived and died in England; she left one daughter who married Mr Warburton, a Dublin attorney.

My grandmother’s only brother, John Murray, was like his father a soldier. Much of his life was spent in France, where with the eldest daughter of his second wife (Euphemia) he was imprisoned by the first Napoleon, along with several English at the breaking out of war before they could escape. He was twice married; his first wife left a son and a daughter - John afterwards General Murray and Jemima afterwards Mrs McGurty. By his second wife he had a son (Freeman now General Murray) and two daughters; Euphemia (Mrs Covell) and Maria - Lady Torrens. These three live in England but much of their early life was spent in France where (at Lille) I first became acquainted with them in 1817 when, with my grandmother, my mother and Aunt Searle, I went to pay a visit to my Uncle and Aunt Murray - he always treated me with great kindness and affection.

But to return to my great grandmother, Mrs Murray, she lived as I said at Castle Murray, Co Donegal. Her husband was either in America or dead and she was at C.M. when a rebellion broke out and she had to flee from her house by night; where her children were at this time I know not. This was long prior to 1790. Mrs M disguised herself as a poor woman and left her house just in time to save her life; the darkness favoured her escape but she saw her house in flames before she had walked far. She walked all night and at an early hour found herself near a farmhouse; the place she knew not. She went up to the house and applied to the farmer’s wife for employment as a farm servant. The good woman took the stranger at her word, put a milk pail in her hand and bid her go to the byre and milk the cows. This seemed an easy task and my great grandmother went and, sitting on the wrong side of the cow, tried to draw the milk. The cow readily perceived that she had an ignoramus to deal with. She kicked the pail, upsetting it, and refused to give a drop of milk. My GGM’s hopes were demolished. What to do she knew not or whither to go and she sat down to cry. While thus employed the farmer’s wife came to see what progress her new servant had made; a glance told her all the truth. “Ah you poor creature, you are no farm servant” said she. “I see how it is, come to my house where you shall have a home and whatever as long as you require it and I will not delay you”. The good woman kept her word. How long my Gt GM remained with her I do not know, but she left in her will a clause commanding all her female descendants ‘to learn to milk cows’.

From the time of my father’s death in 1808 Glenalla was my home. My grandparents, mother and self constituted the family. Glenalla was, and is, a lovely place one Irish mile from Lough Nacally. It was a large house pleasantly situated and surrounded by woods, all planted by my grandfather. Glenalla was 13 Irish miles distant from Londonderry - in which we usually spent the winter months in a large old-fashioned house called ‘The Deanery’. In 1809 my grandfather had a severe illness, including a paralytic stroke. From this he never really recovered, though he lived years after this. Derry was always irksome for me as my only place of exercise was walking round the city walls as I was too young to enjoy the histories of the siege and the glories of the Maiden City (by virtue of the fact that its walls were never breached despite being besieged on three separate occasions in the 17th century). In Glenalla on the other hand I delighted.

My grandmother was a little woman of great energy and spirit. She was up early every morning, walking round the garden to gather a nosegay for the breakfast table. Sometimes she strayed into the fowl house to look for fresh eggs and in winter she might be found in the dairy as soon as it was light to look after the dairy maid. After breakfast she had a bevy of poor people - tenants, labourers, patients or beggars - who were admitted one by one into a little back hall called ‘the study’. All these received reproof, consolations, medicines or alms from ‘her ladyship’ as their circumstances seemed to require. In such occupations she spent one or two hours daily. My grandmother had a small figure but a great spirit; fear and fatigue were things that seemed unknown to her. Her skin was very fair, her eyes small and blue and her hair snowy white. In her tongue was the law of kindness; when she could not speak well of someone, she said nothing. Nor was this disposition confined to words, she was generous almost beyond her means. She was most thoughtful for everyone who could in any way possibly require her help. Of one person and one person only was she forgetful, namely herself. Such was Jane Hume.

In 1811, I accompanied my mother to Co Cork to visit my father’s relations. This was a painful visit for my dear mother but for my sake she came to introduce me to my grandparents and other near relatives. In Cork we visited my great aunt Mrs S Townsend (Helena wife of Samuel Philip Townsend) - her daughter Mary and son Edward. My aunt had lived many years in total darkness, her eyes not bearing the light. Her son Edward, who was some three years my senior, was born in the dark and was, I believe, never seen by his mother. He lived with her until her death and is now head of the medical profession in Cork. His sister Mary was a delightful companion, a most pleasant creature and withal a true Christian. My aunt’s great delight was to listen to God’s word, read to her by any kind friend siting in the drawing room near the green curtains that excluded the light from her room.

From Cork we travelled to Kinsale to visit my father’s parents; there we received the warmest welcome. My grandfather, the Rev Edward Synge Townsend was infirm on his limbs, the result of rheumatism from which he had long suffered. His face was handsome, the expression remarkably sweet; his eyes dark and expressive; his manner full of bonhomie. My grandmother, Elizabeth Townsend was a tall rather elderly woman; not as handsome as her husband but full of love and kindness. My grandparents had at this time 3 sons and 4 daughters living. The former were Horace who lived in London, Edward who was a country squire somewhere near Macroom and Philip a clergyman. Three unmarried daughters lived with their parents; Mary, Susan and Helena. With all three I was a firm favourite but ‘Aunt Susan’ was the favourite of my childhood. The situation of Kinsale is very pretty; my grandparents lived on one of the quays, which commanded a very pretty view of the harbour.

While we were in Kinsale my mother heard that Col and Mrs McGregor Murray, old and valued friends not related to us, were with his regiment quartered in the barracks. Mother took me to see them - we were received most cordially and when we were departing Mrs Murray insisted on giving me 2 golden guineas - the largest sum I ever owned. This money was helpful in the purchase of books in memory of our kind friends.

My mother and I returned to Glenalla stopping on our way through Dublin in the house of our friends Mr and Mrs McGurty, the latter being my mother’s cousin. In this house I was ever after cordially received when on my way to or from school.

In 1810 my mother went to London for surgical advice leaving me with my grandparents in Glenalla. She had a mole extracted from her cheek by one of the first surgeons of the day.

In 1812 Dr and Mrs Stewart (my uncle and aunt) came from Co Cork to Glenalla to convey me to Clonakilty School, of which Dr Stewart was master. My aunt Grace Stewart was the eldest daughter of my grandfather Townsend. Clonakilty School at that time contained about 40 boarders some of whom were from counties Kerry and Limerick, as well as Cork. Three of my Hart cousins entered the school at the same time as me, viz John, George and Thomas, the last named and I were in the same class and nearly of the same age. We left Glenalla in the autumn of 1812. It was a true trial to me to leave my mother; my aunt was very kind to me and so was my uncle. He was careful not to show me any favouritism in the school. Before the opening of the winter holidays my dear mother came to Clonakilty to spend the first holidays with me and save me a winter’s journey to the north. How delighted I was to see her after an absence of some months I can ill describe. My uncle and aunt had no child.

During the holiday my uncle and aunt, my mother and I were invited to spend a week with the family of Mrs Townsend of Derry. So there I was introduced for the first time to the family of my future wife (Susan Townsend). How little did the parents or their children think that they would hereafter be so closely united as they afterwards were. Mr and Mrs Townsend and their 10 children constituted at this time the family at Derry. The house is pleasantly situated about an English mile from the little village of Rosscarbery. Mr Townsend was a tall fine looking man, of very courteous manner and very well informed mind, as I afterwards learned. Mrs Townsend (Horatio’s second wife, Katherine Corker), as far as I remember, was a small and slight figure; she was kind and amicable and the family, large as it was, seemed exceedingly well managed. Eliza and Katherine, the two eldest daughters, were at this time young women of very kind and amicable manner. Chambre, the eldest son, had entered Dublin College and at the time of our visit was at home for the winter holidays; he was a gentlemanly, courteous man. Horace about my own age was his father’s pupil. He and I soon became friends. The other members of the family at this time I do not remember and I did not again visit Derry till 1829 after my first return from India.

I remained at Clonakilty School till 1816. Every year of my stay at Clonakilty I travelled during winter and summer vacations to Glenalla, which was then my happy home. The Easter vacations I would spend in Kinsale with my grandparents and their three daughters, aunts Mary, Susan and Helena; with all of them I was a prime favourite. My grandfather Townsend was a very old man, infirm on his limbs, with very sweet expression of face, beaming with benevolence. He, my grandmother and three aunts loaded me with kindness during the short visit of one week which I annually paid them. My uncles Edward and Philip, who lived in different parts of Co Cork, occasionally visited Kinsale during my stay. My grandfather often conversed freely with me - once he said “Edward never suffer yourself to be persuaded to alter the spelling of your name by the addition to it of the letter ‘h’”. I readily promised that I never would.

My grandfather’s eldest son, Horace Townsend, was a barrister at the English bar and lived in London. In about 1814 or 1815 he and his wife (who I henceforth knew as Aunt Townsend) arrived in Kinsale with their five children, viz, Horace, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Aubrey and John. Of these the two eldest are about my age. Aubrey was a delicate little boy and John just a baby. Edward the eldest son remained a little after the rest of the family in England and shortly afterwards he took a commission in the army. My uncle whose health was impaired remained in England. My aunt (Aunt T) was a very infirm person in every respect and I soon acquired a profound respect and admiration of her and, over the years, a sincere affection. For some years she lived in Kinsale; afterwards in Dublin and then in Clifton and Bath.

Before my aunt’s arrival from England my aunt Helena married Lt George Digby Daunt a retired officer who had served under Wellington in the Peninsula; a highly reputable, worthy man. He lived in Kinsale.

In 1816 my grand aunts Hume and my mother crossed over to England from Glenalla, their object being the restoration of my grandfather’s health. I had orders to follow them there as soon as the summer holidays should begin, which I did very willingly. Though my Uncle and Aunt Stewart had always been very kind to me, still school is school. I travelled to Cork by coach and was met there by the Rev Philip T, my father’s youngest brother. He took care of me for one or two days in Cork and on one evening took me to the theatre. When a fair breeze sprang up my uncle put me on board the ‘Marquis of Wellesley Packet of Bristol’, a small vessel. I took a basket of provisions with me, as was the practice in those days, provided by my uncle, who kindly saw me on board. It was evening when we left the quay in Cork; before daylight the next morning we were I believe out of sight of land. The passengers, eight in number, were mostly gentlemen; each had his basket of provisions so we found a fire and took our meals together on deck, the weather being fine. This was my first sea voyage; I was a little bit sick but was full of pleasant expectations for the future. We spent one day at sea out of sight of land as far as I can remember and on the third day entered the Bristol Channel and soon reached the Avon. Steamers had no existence in those days. The muddiness of the Avon surprised me but I admired its beautiful banks, especially when we reached Clifton.

On landing I made my way to the Lower Crescent where I was cordially received by Mrs Shouldham, her son and daughter and two elderly maiden sisters, Miss Lucy and Miss May Anne Hume. These three ladies were the daughters of the Bishop of Salisbury, my grandfather’s uncle. Mrs Shouldham was the wife of an officer of that name in Bengal and her children had been born in India, where she expected to return. Mrs S and her sisters were religious ladies and she gave me a little red bible, which I still posses, in which her son, Tom who was about my age, wrote my name. After a stay of a few days in Clifton, I was permitted to proceed to Cheltenham where I rejoiced to find my mother and great aunts. Cheltenham was at that time full of visitors and among them the most conspicuous was Arthur, Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo. We had a near view of him, the Duchess and their two sons in the public gardens and at the Pump. All England was in a fever of admiration of the Duke and Cheltenham, where he came to drink the waters, was crowded. To excess. There also we made acquaintance with Captain and Mrs Lawrence - very kind and friendly people. Captain L was a retired officer; he had been at the Siege of Seringapatam where he incurred some ugly wounds. Mrs Lawrence was the sister of Rev James Knox, Master of Londonderry School, through whom we made her acquaintance. A few years later I met their sons at Derry when they were at school with their uncle; viz Alexander and Henry the two eldest and two juniors John and George. Alexander obtained a commission in the Madras army. Henry obtained a Bengal cadetship; in after years when we were both at home on furlough I met him in Clifton where he cordially greeted me. He afterwards married Honoria Marshall, an early friend of mine. She died young and he obtained a sad though noble celebrity in Lucknow during the siege. John became a distinguished Governor General of India with the title of Lord Lawrence which he well deserved. But to return to 1816 and our family narrative.

From Cheltenham we travelled to Salisbury and the friendly home of Canon Hume, my grandfather’s first cousin. We were cordially received by Canon and Mrs Hume, their daughter and two sons. The canon was the son of the Bishop of Salisbury who was my grandfather’s uncle and who had given him his first curacy in the Diocese of Salisbury where he spent the first years of his clerical life. There also he first met Miss Jane Murray whom he afterwards married. While we were at Salisbury my grandfather’s younger brother, Mr James Hume, came to see his brother and family whom he had not seen for many years. My Uncle James was a pleasant, cheerful, kind man - much more strong and active that his brother but without a tooth in his head. After spending a few days in Salisbury he returned to his home in Wandsworth near London. We soon followed his example, directing our first steps to Somerset House in the Strand, the home of my Uncle and Aunt Searle. Captain Searle RN was my aunt’s second husband - he and my dear aunt received us most kindly; she was my grandmother’s younger sister. In London we remained some time preparatory to my entering Westminster School where my grandfather Hume had been educated and where he was desirous to place me. My Uncle James Hume’s grandsons - Charles and Alfred Dodgson - were both pupils of Westminster at this time.

I was far from enjoying the prospect of entering this great school amid the dirt and smoke of London, but I resigned myself to my fate. Dr Page was the headmaster at this time; with the boys he had no concern except during school hours. Boarders, of which there were some two or three hundred, lodged in ‘Boarding Houses’ attached to the school. I was placed in one of these in Little Dean’s Yard kept by two ladies named ‘Best’. The day after my arrival I entered the school room - a spacious hall and was seated along with sundry other newcomers in a place allotted for our examinations. I soon learned that the school was divided into two parts, upper and lower. The former contained the senior boys, boarders in the lower school were ‘fags’ to the senior boys; ie their servants, obliged to do sundry menial jobs without remuneration except kicks and punches.

The school contained the following classes, the Upper and Lower Sixth, the ‘Shell’, so called from their sitting in an alcove at the top of the room, the Upper and Lower Fifth and the two Fourths; the under 4th was therefore the lowest form (or class) in the Upper School and to it I directed many an anxious glance hoping that I might have the good fortune to be elected to it. All the candidates were examined in their turn, the fate of some was quickly decided and if it was to the Lower School the hapless youth went out with a satchel on his back, a signal which was received by the senior boys with a cheer as the boy was doomed to be a fag. My examination was rather tedious; being small for my age and known to be Irish I was already regarded by the senior boys as doomed to be a fag. When the examination was ended however I was appointed to the upper 4th and thus placed beyond the regions of fagging. This circumstance greatly provoked three senior boys, who had already regarded me as their servant, and I received on this account a considerable allowance of extra knocks and thumps; my situation was thus far from agreeable. The upper 4th class to which I was appointed was a large class, containing two or three young nobleman, the first that I had ever seen. One of them was a Paget, the other a Hufnell (Lord Wriothesly - now a clergyman). The master of the 4th class was a middle aged clergyman named Campbell who always treated me kindly. I studied pretty hard for the ensuing examinations at the end of the first half year. I passed them and was promoted to the Lower 5th but by this time my health had failed and I was removed from Westminster School and conveyed by my mother and grandparents to Clifton.

I regretted my removal from the school but I suffered from incessant headaches and there was no alternative. My London doctor gave me plenty of calomel pills, but when I came to Clifton Dr Brynton prescribed for me air and exercise and no physic. Under this regimen I rapidly regained health in Clifton’s pure air. From Clifton we went after a while to Bath where my grandfather’s only sister (Mrs Elizabeth Hume) lived in the Orange Grove close to the old abbey. My grandparents and my mother had a most happy meeting with this dear kind old aunt and sister. After some weeks we went to the village of Swainswick, near to Bath, on a visit to Mr and Mrs Henry Hayes, very old friends of my mother. Mr Hayes was an English clergyman and Mrs Hayes was Irish by birth; her maiden name was Barnard and her father had been Bishop of Limerick. Mr and Mrs H were very kind and agreeable people and we spent a very happy time under their roof. They had no children. Mrs H was a most delightful companion and truly kind friend; this she was to the last hours of her life, which was in 1824.

In the spring of 1817 we returned to London to my Uncle and Aunt Searle’s friendly dwelling in Somerset House; my aunt received us with her usual affection. A visit to France was soon planned to see my grandmother’s only brother, General Murray who, with his two daughters, lived in Lille. My Aunt Searle accompanied us and my uncle procured us a very nice cutter in which we sailed down the Thames and across to Calais. We had fine weather, a pleasant voyage and landed safely at Calais. Here for the first time I heard French being spoken by the natives. Very different everything appeared in sound, shape etc from England. On our landing we proceeded to the Hotel Mercurie where some of the waiters attempted to speak English. While in Calais we walked round the ramparts which we viewed with much interest on account of the connection with many notable events recorded in English history.

Our party consisted of six persons, viz my mother and grandparents, Aunt Searle, her niece Euphemia Mary and I. Aunt Searle took Euphemia and me in a carriage hired for Lille; my mother and grandparents followed in the public diligence. Our carriage reached Lille first and, as we had passports from London, we were over the drawbridge and through the city gates after being cautiously inspected by the guards; all these precautions were new to us. We soon reached the hotel where we learned that General Murray and “his woman” had given orders for our reception. The message was delivered by one of the English speaking waiters; of course the word “woman” was intended for wife but it excited Aunt Searle’s indigestion. The rest of the party arrived safely and we then all proceeded to my Uncle General Murray’s house which was a good sizeable building entered from the street through a large gate, inside which was a garden on which the windows looked. Uncle M who was a fine, reasonable looking old soldier received us with much affection, as did Mrs Murray (who was his second wife).

Lille is considered one of the fortresses of France being near the Belgian frontier. We spent some weeks very pleasantly here and then left for Brussels and Antwerp, where we ultimately proceeded to Calais, thence to Dover and to London. We were now on our homeward route, but we first visited a family near Windsor - old friends of my grandparents - the family of Mr Hudleston of “Old Windsor”, a fine place not very far from the Royal Castle. John Hudleston Esq was an elderly man, a retired Madras civilian, a widower; the father of a large family, some of whom were in India and China; the remainder were at home. Mr H was an intelligent, agreeable and kind man. He had great esteem for my mother and secretly offered an appointment to India for her only child. She naturally shrank from such a proposition of which she gave me a hint. I dreaded the thought of such banishment from her. Little more was said about it and we returned to London and thence to Yorkshire on our return to Ireland. I was glad to escape from such dangerous ground.

In Yorkshire we visited Mr and Mrs Marwood of Busby Hall. Mrs M was the eldest daughter of my Uncle James Hume. She had been twice married - her first husband’s name being Dodgson-Gahan, by whom she had two sons Charles and Howard, two very talented young men. Busby Hall was a beautiful place; Mr Marwood was a very courteous old gentleman and Mrs Marwood most affectionate. After a very pleasant visit to these kind friends we went to Stockton to the house of very old friends, Col and Mrs McGregor Murray (whom they met in Kinsale in 1811), nothing could exceed their kindness while we stayed with them. Mrs M gave me a handsome bloodstone seal on which I have had my crest inscribed.

The McGregor Murrays were genuine Scotch, warm hearted and most hospitable. Their family name was McGregor which was a proscribed name because of their adherence to the House of Stuart. The name of Murray they were permitted to adopt but the old family name has been resumed. From Stockton we travelled to Dumfries which has been the dwelling place of my grandmother’s family, the Murrays. Thence we proceeded to Port Patrick, where after waiting for one week for a fair breeze, with the Irish shore in view, we sailed for Donaghadee and thence to Belfast and then soon after to Derry, where we were once more at home in the old Deanery. The winter was now approaching and we stopped in Derry for the return of Spring. It was resolved to place me after the holidays at the Diocesan School, the headmaster of which at this time was the Rev James Knox - an excellent old man whose memory I shall always revere. At this time I made acquaintance with the young Lawrences, whose parents we had known in Cheltenham. Two of three (Henry and John) attained celebrity during the Sepoy’s Mutiny in 1857; Henry for his gallant defence of Lucknow; John for his noble conduct as Governor General of India during the same awful period. The first actual commencement of the mutiny took place at the large military station in north India at Meerut; thence after sundry outrages the mutineers marched to Delhi which they reached on the day following day (11th May 1817). They quickly entered the Imperial City and marched to the Emperor’s Palace where their first notable outrage was the murder of the Resident Simon Fran (an old college friend of mine) which occurred I believe in the presence of the Emperor.

We returned to Londonderry, as I have already said, in the winter of 1817; my grandfather’s health was now failing - his strength, appetite and spirits failed and my dear mother became increasingly alarmed. At length on the 14th January 1818 he suddenly died of a paralytic stroke in his room in the Deanery House. My mother was in the drawing room when a sudden quick rap at the dressing room door alarmed her; she rushed in and I followed. All was over, my dear grandfather was lifeless in his chair. How can I describe the affliction in our home on that day. My grandmother seemed stupefied with grief and moved about silently not shedding a tear. My dear mother was deeply afflicted. Edward Hart and I, the only boys in the house, silently wept together. The funeral followed; John Hart attended as the chief mourner; the body was laid in a grave at the east end of the cathedral - “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” to await the great day of the resurrection. In a few days afterwards we left the Deanery for the last time and returned to Glenalla. By this time the fountains of my grandmother’s tears flowed which was a relief to her and to us. She now spoke freely, as one who had not long to remain after her husband; the meek beauty of her character shone out more and more after this affliction and God’s holy word was her main stay.

I was now sent once more to Clonakilty School as my grandmother was unable to pay for the expense of Derry school. I continued my education in Clonakilty till the rumour of an appointment to India again reached me and with it the rumour of a further change of plans. For the last year of my stay at Clonakilty School my studies in English and classical learning had advanced but for want of a mathematics teacher my progress in that branch of study was at a standstill and I was incapable of undergoing an examination at the East India Company’s College of Hertford till fitted in mathematics. I was once more recalled to Derry and placed in the Diocesan School there under the Rev James Knox for the express purpose of studying mathematics. Here I continued for some months, or a year, receiving the greatest kindness from Mr Knox and his family, especially from the excellent Miss Maria Knox who had a special care for the souls of her father’s pupils.

My appointment to the Indian Civil Service came early in 1819; my progress in mathematics, though not great, was said to be sufficient for the East India College examination. One of my school fellows at Derry received an appointment to India at this time so he and I set out for London, under the escort of his father, and soon after our arrival we proceeded to East India House where our names were duly recorded. Thence we proceeded to Hertford for examination as to our learning at the East India College at Haileybury. We both passed the examination and were both admitted to the College that was to fit us for proceeding to India in the course of two years. Haileybury was situated in a prettily wooded district in the county of Hertford, two miles from the town of that same name. The College consisted of a quadrangle two sides of which were occupied by the student’s rooms, the remainder by the dining hall, chapel and other public buildings. The destination of each student was stated when appointed by the EI director, viz to Bengal, Madras or Bombay. My appointment was to Madras by our kind friend Mr Hudleston; my comrades to Bengal. On seeing all the students in their caps and gowns I reflected that these young people, were one and all destined for India. Sad thoughts filled my mind when I thought of the separation from all that was dear to me.

I found that much of my time would be occupied by attending the lectures of different professors in classics, law, history, mathematics, political economy and European studies; also Hindustani, Persian, Bengali, Sanskrit and Asiatic literature. The students are divided into four divisions or ‘Terms’; viz. the Senior Term who had still to remain 6 months at Haileybury, the Third Term who had to remain one year, the Second Term who had 18 months of college life still before them and the Fourth or Junior Term who had two years of study before them. The students of each term were ranked according to to their respective position in the last examination. The head student of the college when I entered it was John Venn, grandson and son of well known Christian authors; his appointment was to Bengal where he remained for a few years when, finding his health fail, he returned to England, gave up his Indian appointment and was ordained for the ministry of the English church, in which he spent the rest of his life. The head of the Third Term was Dorien whose appointment was also to Bengal. To the same Presidency Augustus Prince was appointed - he was head of the Second term - his life was short and he died in India. One of the students in the Second Term was Simon Fran, a friend of mine and a Bengal student; he eventually went to Calcutta and rose to the important office of Resident (or Ambassador) at the Court of the Mogul in Delhi where he was murdered the day after the mutiny broke out.

The leading student in the junior term when I entered the college was Arthur Steele whose general conduct and superior talents soon attracted my attention; he was some years my senior and had seen much more of the world. I was in mind and manners a mere schoolboy, he a young man. I desired his acquaintance, more than he mine. When I perceived this I stopped seeking his intimacy and obtained that of WH Benson (1)- a warm hearted Irishman, who continued ever after my cordial friend; he was in the Second Term, my senior by 6 months. His appointment was also in Bengal; after many years when we had both finished our Indian course, we met in Dublin, but he poor fellow was in very bad health. He went to Cheltenham for a change of air and a few years later died. I had long ceased to hear from him; illness was the probable cause of his silence. After a while Steele seemed disposed to be friendly and he became my constant friend whose good sense, steadiness of character and good example in useful employment of time was to me ever after a very valuable guide. The first examination placed Steele at the head of our term, a place which he ever afterwards held.

I returned to Glenalla for my first holidays and rejoiced to see my dear mother and grandmother. When I returned to College the Senior Term, headed by John Venn, had departed for India and ours became the Second Term and a party of juniors entered below us, among whom were James Thomason and Herbert Cotters Murray, two talented and excellent youths. Thomason was appointed to Bengal, Murray to Bombay - these two were good and kind friends. Steele’s appointment was also to Bombay. With the above kind friends my time passed happily at Haileybury. Added to this my dear mother and grandmother came to the town of Hertford to live while I continued at college. When my first year there was finished another term of students left for India and another class of juniors entered; among them was John Walker, a clever youth of good principles, who became a good friend of mine. His appointment was to Madras. Shortly after this I wished to have my appointment changed to Bombay, which was effected by Mr Murray, an EI Director and father of my friend HC Murray. I spent my second holidays with my loved parents in Hertford. In the summer of 1821 they moved to Blackheath and I spent those holidays with them and my kind Aunt Searle. The coronation of George IV took place at this time.

The winter vacation of 1821 terminated my stay at Haileybury and my mother and grandmother removed to London where they took lodgings near Buckingham Gate, off St James’ Park, and where I spent the last few weeks that preceded my departure for India - a sad time for my parents and me. Steele sailed for Bombay early in 1822; my passage for the same port was taken in a fine EI ship The Castle Huntley some weeks later - Captain HA Drummond Commander. My dear G mother, mother and I travelled to Gravesend from whence the ship was to sail early next day; the last night that I spent with them was a sad one indeed and I felt as if my heart would break. The weather was rough, the wind contrary and we put into Plymouth harbour whence, after a few days, we sailed on 13th March 1822 for Bombay.

The Castle Huntley was a fine ship and Captain Drummond was a kind, cheerful man who seemed quite at home at sea. We were soon out of the British Channel and the wind became more favourable; we saw the Eddystone lighthouse - the last thing when leaving England. In the Bay of Biscay we had some rough seas and then a calm; then a fresh breeze which carried us on at a smart pace. The first land that we saw after leaving England was the high land of Madeira where we anchored before Funchal, the capital; here the people are all Portuguese. Some of us went on shore and we youngsters hired ponies and rode some way up the island which is high and beautiful. We returned to the ship and sailed next morning. The only land that we saw was the Peak of Tenerife, a very high mountain rising out of the sea. We proceeded down the African coast, none of which we saw, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and up the Mozambique Channel without seeing land on either side till we were out of the channel when we saw the small island of Johanna (Anjouan) some distance to the NW. We now had fine weather and fair trade winds. Our course was NNE and we had rounded Africa without seeing an inch of it and in like manner we passed through the Mozambique Channel without once seeing Madagascar. We now steered NNE for Bombay and on June 10th we steered straight into its fine harbour sighting the highlands on the south side almost simultaneously with those on the north; a beautiful specimen of skilful navigation, considering the length of the voyage from Tenerife to Johanna in the Indian Ocean and that no land was sighted between the two. Our voyage from Plymouth to Bombay was completed in 90 days - a short time for a sailing ship; there were no steamships in those days.

The harbour of Bombay is beautiful and extensive; the town is built on the small island of Bombay on the NW side. To the S and SE are two or three handsome islands, one of which is known by Europeans as ‘Elephanta’ and contains the well known caves of that name. The native name of the island is Gharapuri’. On the south and east the harbour is bordered on the mainland by a range of fine mountains. Soon after we had cast anchor several boats came alongside; one of these contained my friend Arthur Steele who immediately came on board to welcome me to Bombay. It was no small pleasure to recognise his friendly face in a strange land. I had brought sundry letters of introduction, few of which were any use; one however to a merchant in Bombay - a Mr Stewart - obtained for me the hospitality of his home for some weeks. After this I took lodgings in Bombay with another young civilian where we remained for three months studying Hindustani for the next examination. I passed the examination and was posted to Poona, a large military station and a very gay place. There I remained for a short time and was then moved to Bankote in S. Konkan - a very quiet place where some good Scotch missionaries were living. Here I had good opportunities of learning the Marathi language, the prevalent tongue in the Bombay Presidency. I also had the good examples and conversations of the missionaries - a great benefit to a youth with scarcely formed principles. After this I was moved from Bankote to Ratnagiri in the same district; here I first became acquainted with NT Webb, a young man somewhat my senior, who from that day to the present has been my steadiest and most truly useful friend and Christian helper.

The south Konkan, where I was appointed third (or junior) assistant to the Collector, is the line of coast south of Bombay, a quiet, rural district. It contains a few small towns - two of these Bankote and Ratnagiri were the only places in it where a few European families lived. In this district I lived the first three years of my sojourn in India. In 1825 I was moved from Southern Konkan to Northern Konkan and was appointed second assistant to the Collector, JB Simson Esq, a clever and wise man who always befriended me, where I remained nearly four years.

During this period my health failed to some extent and I was sent for a change of air to the Nilgiri Hills in 1827 - a range that runs along the western coast of India to the south. I sailed down the coast from Bombay about 300 miles as far as Calicut, a small town celebrated as being the spot where the first European traveller, Vasco de Gama the great Portuguese navigator, landed after accomplishing the first voyage known to history around the Cape of Good Hope. Calicut is in the Madras Presidency; the language of the people is called Malayalam and it is quite unlike either Hindustani or Marathi. The dress, appearance and manners of the natives were in many respects different from what I was accustomed to in or near Bombay. Here I remained a few days to rest after which I proceeded by land a few miles to the south, then I turned to the east and travelled through a deep gorge between high mountains. After a day or two travelling I reached the foothills of the mountains called Nilgiri Hills or the ‘Blue Mountains’. The ascent which I rode was long and steep; the elevation was about 7,000 feet above the level of the sea. The change of climate was great - from oppressive heat I had entered a region rather too cold, though delightfully bracing. My appetite and sleep, which had failed, immediately returned.

There were two stations inhabited by Europeans on the Nilgiris viz Kotagiri and Ootacamund, the latter being the principal and loftier station. At neither of these places could I find a house or lodging but I ultimately hired a solitary one near the road leading from Kotagiri to Ootacamund about 15 miles from the latter place. The climate of the Nilgiris is delightful; I reached the hills in about November when they were enveloped in mists and clouds with more or less rain caused by the Madras monsoon which finishes in November or December. The mists which interrupted the view on all sides added to the solitude of my house at Kalea. I occasionally visited Ootacamund where there was some pleasant society. I made especial acquaintance with two friendly families, viz those of Dr Young and Dr Alexander - the former was Scotch, an intelligent and amusing man, a capital singer. Dr Alexander was Irish and was my principal friend in the hills. Both were Madras officers from which Presidency all the Europeans in the hills came. As the spring advanced the climate became more delightful and from January the mists cleared.

The hills are inhabited by 2 or 3 tribes of natives, who are simpler than those of the plains. The principal tribe, the Todas, are a remarkably fine, large and muscular race of men who claim to be the original inhabitants of the hills. Their language differs from all the other dialects of the plains. There are two other tribes, very inferior in appearance and character to the Todas. They are called Kotas and Badagas and speak the languages of the plains. After a while I wrote an old and much valued friend in the Madras Civil Service - John Walker (they were students together at the East India College). I soon had a letter from him from Madras, an old city in the far south where he very cordially invited me to visit him. I descended from the hills on the south eastern side and travelled in a palkee (palanquin) for 2 or 3 days, mostly by night, until I reached Madras. Here I was most cordially welcomed by my old friend and his amicable wife. I spent a month with them very happily and profitably for they were truly pious people. During my visit to them a zealous and highly gifted Prussian missionary (under the Church Missionary Society) visited the Walkers on his way from Tirunelveli to Tanjore. The company of this good missionary and of my dear hosts awakened me to my own lukewarmness in religious matters and I set out on my return to the Nilgiris very thankful for the privilege of spending a month with the dear Walkers and very sorry to part from them. We never met again on earth and soon after I left Madras. Dear John W told me his wife’s health was failing, this was too true; her days after this were few. Some years after JW returned to England and lived in Bath. I had great hopes of seeing him there, but his days there were few.

When I arrived in the hills after Madras the first intelligence that met me was that of the death, by jungle fever, of my kind friend Dr Alexander, whom I had left in full health only one month before. The news greatly saddened me and I decided to leave the hills on my return to Bombay by land through Seringapatam. My route lay through the jungle beneath the hills where poor Alexander caught his fatal fever. I hastened through the jungle on the verge of which I slept in my falhu(?) one night. Thence I proceeded to Seringapatam, a place of historic celebrity, a strong fortress situate between the branches of the Cauvery (Kaveri), a beautiful river. Here I spent a day or two in the home of the Resident who had invited me. At Seringapatam is the Court of the Rajah of Mysore, a Hindu chief whose family had been temporarily deposed by the Mohammedan sultans Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan; the latter of these, the implacable enemy of the English, was killed at the last siege of Seringapatam - the British commanded by General Sir David Baird, under whose command Colonel Arthur Wellesley began to gain the celebrity that followed him in after years to Waterloo.

My course from Seringapatam was first a land journey of 70 miles to Bangalore, a large British cantonment in Mysore. Here I had an introduction to Captain Burns, son of the Scottish poet, a kind amiable man who, as well as Mrs Burns, cordially welcomed me to their house. My purpose was to stay here two days to rest and then to continue my journey to the north and the Bombay Presidency, a land journey of 300 miles. In Bangalore I heard much of Captain O’Brien, a zealous Christian man. I also heard of a Christian lady, a friend of his from the north of Ireland - a Mrs Saunders whom I began to recognise as a friend of my mother. I called on her and found that she was from Londonderry and she received me with much kindness. She had lately seen my mother and was full of her praise. I spent that evening with Mrs S and met in her home Captain O’Brien, whom I soon found to be no common man. Sundry friends were present; reading scripture and prayer occupied the evening. Capt O’B presided in a plain but earnest manner to which all seemed to listen. I was to leave Bangalore in a day or two so I bade farewell to Mrs S and Capt O’B, not expecting to see them again.

I returned to Capt Burn’s hospitable house very weary and with a bad headache. Next morning I was in high fever and unable to leave my bed; my kind host came to see me and soon sent for a doctor, who was very attentive. My fever was severe and for some weeks I was confined to bed, very ill indeed. I was in the house of a kind, hospitable worldly man who laughed at religion and its professors, not forgetting Capt O’B who he regarded as an enthusiast but a sincere one. One day when visiting me as I lay in bed he said with a smile “Oh, as soon as Capt O’B hears of your illness he will come to convert you”. After a few days he came in bringing Capt O’B with him, whom he introduced with a sneer on his face and then speedily retired, leaving the good Samaritan with me. I felt thankful to the good man, who thus came to a stranger in the hour of trial; but I also felt ashamed of being left in the hands of such a man, at such a time, when I thought of the sneer on my host’s face. Thinking of the matter I am ashamed of myself for my guilty cowardice in hesitating to receive, as I should have done, one who came in the hour of need, to do for me what no one else could do. Some days passed and the severity of my fever increased. I also began to think that my days on earth were numbered and I felt all the solemnity of my situation. At length I resolved if permitted to see my kind friend, Capt O’B. He came and I saw him with joy from that day forward; a new life had begun and I felt that even for me there was hope. Every time that I saw Capt O’B hope increased as did my health and I soon prepared to leave Bangalore and to travel to Bombay if possible by land.

This serious effort at length began; Capt O’B gave me introductions to friends in numerous places along the road and I was thus enabled to continue my long journey. Belgaum, situate near the south frontier of the Bombay Presidency, was the first place in which I stopped and there I received a kind reception from a missionary to whom I delivered a very kind letter from Capt O’B. The Revd Mr Taylor, the missionary, treated me most kindly while I remained and he did me much good whilst I stayed with him. I then set out northward and in sundry places I delivered letters from Capt O’B which afforded me a kind reception everywhere. At length I reached Bombay and thus ended my tedious journey. Many of my acquaintances treated me cooly having heard that I had joined the ‘Saints’. I wished the change to be true and soon after I received a cordial greeting from Captain Jacob, an excellent man, who had a cordial letter of introduction from Capt O’B and who consequently became my friend ever after.

(1) William Henry Benson