|Figure 1, St John's Church, Thalassery in 2009.|
Photo courtesy Jissu Jacob
It is widely believed by many that it was Edward Brennan, the Harbour Master at Tellicherry during the 1860's. This "fact" appears in countless websites, tourist guides, etc. etc. but I believe masks a much earlier series of places of worship on the site.
While it is true that Brennan rebuilt the church in the 1860's, his was definitely not the first church at Tellicherry.
|Figure 2. Edward Brennen's memorial plaque|
inside St. John's Church, Thalassery
In settlements under the East India Company rule, the official garrison church was therefore always a Protestant Church. However the East India Company always struggled to recruit enough Protestant men to fill its military units, so that in practise there were often large numbers of Indo-Portuguese, Irish & English Catholics serving in these settlements as soldiers and as lower ranking officials. These Catholics were accommodated by Catholic Churches, as was the case at Tellicherry, where St Joseph's Catholic Church was built besides the Protestant Church, both within the outer defensive walls of the fort at Tellicherry that we can all visit today.
|Figure 3. Captain Gaspar Moritz Gleetz 1730-1768|
When the British government was mobilising for each new war on Continental Europe, it would need to conscript tens of thousands of often unwilling English, Scots & Irish. These huge recruiting drives increased competition for the available men in the community.
Quedlinburg, where Gaspar came from is a town situated just north of the Harz Mountains in Germany mid way between Hanover & Leipzig. At this period many of the officers in the East India Company infantry companies came from Europe where they had often gained extensive experience during the wars in that part of the World.
|Figure 4. Childhood home of Gaspar Moritz Gleetz|
|Figure 7. Captain John Sibbald of the 34th Regiment who died in December 1843|
Spring was sent to Tellicherry and later on to Cannanore where he played an important role in establishing both of the St. John's churches in those locations.
|Figure 10. Cecilia Lawrie's Tomb|
|Figure 11. St John's Church under restoration in 2007. |
Photo by Lindsay Gething.
|Figure 12. Eliza Wills, wife of Henry Crewe |
who died at Tellicherry in 1874
|Figure 13. James Ward Esq, Indian Navy|
As they approached retirement age, many former Indian Navy officers left their ship based activities for shore based posts and became Harbour Masters, so it is entirely possible that he was Harbour Master at Tellicherry at some point between Mr. Oakes and Mr. Brennen who were also Harbour Masters at Tellicherry. C.R. Low also mentions a Lieutenant C.Y. Ward, who compiled the "Gulf of Aden Pilot" published by the Admiralty in 1863. He might be either James Ward's brother or even son.
Many people who had become seriously ill in other parts of India or the Indian Ocean, made sea voyages to Tellicherry from places like Bombay. The voyage alone was believed to be good for you, and was often prescribed by Company Doctors, and the voyage often cured many illnesses. Tellicherry had been seen for many years as being a particularly healthy station compared with most other coastal EIC port settlements.
As Ootacamund developed into a summer hill station by the 1840's, many people from places like Bombay who were already ill travelled via Tellicherry or Cannanore to Ootacamund via the Wayanad, and their letters and diaries often contain some of the best descriptions of the Tellicherry area at that time. It is possible that James Ward had been passing through Tellicherry when he died.
|Figure 14. A close up shot of the inscription on James Ward's monument|
|Figure 15. Elizabeth Frances Schmidt. Schmidt is a German name that means smith.|
|Figure 16. James Crawford (possibly). |
He may have been related to Mr H Crawford who was Commercial Agent
for the Travancore Government at Alleppey
|Figure 17. James Stevens, who was the senior judge|
at Tellicherry in the early 1800's.
|Figure 18. James Stevens grave monument.|
|Figure 19. Margaret Eleanor John, who was born in 1837 and died in 1911.|
|Figure 20. Mary Brown, daughter of Francis Carnac Brown. This photo dates from quite recently, and shows how it was over painted in recent years.|
|Figure 21. This was Mary Brown's plaque a few years earlier.|
It is a great pity that it was painted over. I wonder if the paint could be removed?
|Figure 23. St John's Church Tellicherry in 2006-2007|
The growth of scrub in the grave yard was chest high when I climbed into the grave yard. The place was full of mongooses, and my dear local host was beseeching me to get out of the graveyard as fast as possible, as it must be full of snakes to be able to support so many mongooses.
Especial thanks are due to Dr. Denny, the Principle, and the pupils of St. Joseph's Higher Secondary School who are looking after the graveyard currently.
|Figure 24. Here is one of the other tombs but sadly the inscription is not readily seen in this photo.|
The church under restoration in 2009 can be seen in the background.
Note the amount of rubble from tumbled down tombs lying around.