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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XX No. 4, june 1-15, 2010
Our Readers Write

Filling in the blanks

Here are a few additional notes to your interesting pull-out on Madras Street Names (MM, June 1st).

Alexander Road: Alex-ander was the progenitor of one of the three Armenian families originally settled in Madras. At the commencement of the wars with Hyder Ali, their business fortunes came to be greatly affected. Subsequently, one branch left for Nagapatnam, and the second for Masuli-patnam. The third stayed on in Madraspatnam.

Bamford Road: Lt. E.J. Bamford of the 25th Regiment, Madras Native Infantry, was lost at sea while on regimental duty on his voyage to Rangoon, 1854. He was from an old Anglo-Indian family of Madras.

Branson Garden: J.H. Spring Branson was Judge Advocate-General of the Madras Army. Died in 1897.

Breithaupt Road: Christopher Breithaupt in 1798 was the Joint Collector and Surveyor of Madras-patnam. Only after his retirement did he become a partner of the firm Parry, Pugh and Breithaupt.

Cooke Road: Francis Cooke was Assay Master of the ‘Rt.Hon’ble Company’ and also the churchwarden of St. Mary’s Church. Died in 1712.

Cox Street: Col. Cox was a late Commissioner of Police, Madras. He married (1834) a daughter of Rev. Hands of Bellary, a leading missionary of those days.

De Caster Main Road: Probably incorrect spelling of De Castro, a Portuguese personage of those days. (Editor’s Note: Samuel de Castro / Caster was a Portuguese Jew who traded in diamonds and coral. He lived in the Fort in the mid-18th Century and was co-owner of ‘The Great House on Charles Street’, which survives as Admiralty / Clive House. His son Moses obtained from the Council several grants of land in the Great Choultry Plain and Royapettah.)

Ellis Road: Francis Ellis was the Second Member of the Governor-in-Council in Madras and lies buried in St. Mary’s Church cemetery. Along with Charnock and Peachie, he formed the first Council of Calcutta in 1690. In 1692 he returned to Madras. The ‘greasy’ side of his career in the Company was an extremely different story. The ‘Dravidian’ Ellis was certainly nowhere in the picture in those times.

Heaton Road: Capt. Samuel Heaton, died in 1708.

Isacke Street: Both father and son were officers of the Madras Artillery. They rendered distinguished service from 1779 and were active members of St. Mary’s Church.

Jeremiah Road: John Jeremiah was a prominent lawyer in Madras in the 1760s.

Kelly’s: Col.Robert Kelly fell at the Battle of Arnee, 1790. His kith and kin were said to have had proprietary interests in this area and at St.Thomas’ Mount.

Locke Street: John Locke was Commander, Madras Roads, and hence held a crucial position in the hierarchy of the Company. He died in 1812.

Morse Road: Nicholas Morse was once Governor of Fort St.George and died on May 28, 1772 aged 72 years.

Noble Street: Founder and Commander of the Corps of Madras Horse Artillery, based at the Mount, Lt.Col.John Noble died on July 16,1827 and lies buried in St.George’s Cathedral Cemetery. (Editor’s Note: To John Noble’s memory there is an obelisk on St. Thomas’ Mount.)

Ritherdon Road: Though he was born and died in England, Augustus Ritherdon (1823-99) pursued his military career in Secunderabad and Madras and rose to become a Major-General in the Madras Staff Corps.

Wallace Garden: John Wallace was the Second Member of the Board of Revenue. Earlier, he was the first Collector of the united districts of Tanjore and Trichinopoly. Died in 1814.

Williams Street: After J.A.S.Williams, late Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court in Madras. Died 1812.

Rev. Philip K. Mulley
St. John’s Church, Mount Road
Coonoor 643 102

* * *

In the special 4-page pullout with Madras Musings of June 1st you had invited readers to provide information left blank in respect of some names. Here is what I have been able to gather regarding some of them:

Kelly’s: This could be after Francis Kelly who was appointed Police Magistrate and Deputy Superintendent of Police in 1834. It is interesting to note that the Tamil Nadu Police Department website (http://www.tnpolice. lists him and V. Raghavachariar as being the “first Indians to be inducted as Police Magistrate and Dy. Supdt. of Police” giving rise to the speculation that he must have been an Anglo-Indian.

Teed’s Garden: This could be after C.M. Teed who, as records show, was sworn in as barrister in the Supreme Court of Madras in 1828. He later became Clerk of the Crown and rose to the position of Administrator General of Madras. He was also a Police Magistrate. He was appointed a Director of the Bank of Madras in 1853. He also seems to have held a post called “Master in Equity”.

Wheatcrofts Road: The road could have derived its name after the residence of Henry King, the famous solicitor, whose address is listed as Wheatcrofts, Madras.

All the three mentioned above are from references collated from various books available online.

Karthik Bhatt

* * *

The ‘street names origins’ story was revealing. A remarkable effort by the MM team; my congratulations to them. I hope the Madras Corporation will remain alert with this research and would hesitate to change street and road names at the drop of a hat!

Regarding Kelly’s Road, I remember collecting some information on one Kelly who was a police officer and who had resided in the area and hence this name. His house would have been at the junction of, in today’s context, Purasawalkam High Road-Balfour Road-Medavakkam High Road-Kelly’s Road. Kelly’s Road would have got its name because it led to Kelly’s house in Kelly’s Corner from Orme’s Road.

My house in Shenoy Nagar is in Brewery Road (corporation suburb, Periya Koodal – which means that a Cinna-k-koodal should have existed!) – an unusual street name in Madras. I have never known of a ‘brewery’ in Madras, although local arrack and toddy shops and small-scale manufacturing units would have existed in plenty. When I built my house on Brewery Road in the mid-1980s, this area included the single known patch of a large elegant cluster of panai maram (palmyra, Borassus flabellifer) within the then city limits of Madras. Sadly not one tree exists today; all of them have been slaughtered to accommodate crazy development.

Dr. A. Raman
Charles Sturt University
PO Box 883, Orange, NSW 2800

Editor’s Note: How I missed this one, I don’t know, concurringly comments the Editor on leaving Kelly’s blank. He adds that it is named after Kelly’s Gardens, on Purasawalkam High Road, near the Abhirami Complex, a property that took the name of Capt. Robert Kelly after it had been granted to him by the East India Company in the late 18th Century. Ensign Robert Kelly arrived in Madras in 1760 and by 1778 was a Major whom the Council was prepared to listen to. When he proposed a military survey of South India, the Council thought the cost would be too much and passed the buck on to London. But it made him Geographer to the Company on the Coast the next year and gave him a well-staffed department. That London did grant him permission appears likely, for it was during a survey in the Arni area that Kelly, a Colonel by then, died in September 1790. It has also been suggested – though it is unlikely to be so – that it was named after a senior executive of Best & Co. a ‘Mr Kelly’, who apparently had lived there at some point in time. Kelly of Best’s was a bit of a legend in the company. He would visit places as far away as Kakinada for the opening of tenders and if Best & Co., did not get the contract, he would not claim his 1st Class train fare or his expenses!

* * *

Thanks for the excellent 4-page pullout on Madras street names. I feel this is a priceless collection. I hope the authorities concerned go through it thoroughly and take some unbiased decisions.

T.S. Sivakumar
6, 3rd Street
Padmanaba Nagar, Adyar
Chennai 600 020

* * *

With the Corporation proposing to change fifty ‘English’ road names to ‘Tamil’ ones, it would seem that several underemployed Divisional Officers are checking with local historians on the antecedents of Graeme, Eldam, Taylor, Gen. Patter and so forth. Why this xenophobia so many years after Independence?

I am sure one of these days some bright spark from the Corporation will call on these historians to enquire whether two men called George and Edward and one woman called Victoria deserve to be remembered and, if so, their antecedents.

C.G. Prasad
9, C.S. Mudali Street
Kondithope, Chennai 600 079


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