In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Calcutta (modern Kolkata), I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing, subtitles, modern photographs, and links to material on this site. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of a major city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

The religious edifices are, the new cathedral of St. Paul’s, the old cathedral or St. John’s Church, the old Mission Church, St. James’s Church, St. Thomas’s Church or Free-school Church, St. Peter’s, with in the fort; all these belong to the Church of England. St. Andrew’s Kirk, connected with the Established Church of Scotland; the Free Kirk, built since the Disruption by voluntary contributions. Three Roman Catholic churches, the Greek church, the Armenian church, two Baptist chapels, the Independent Union Chapel, the Hin- doostanee church, the Simleah church, in which a converted, educated, and episcopally ordained Hindoo officiates; besides Mahometan mosques, Hindoo temples, and a Chinese temple,

Left: St. Andrew’s Church. Right: St Paul's Cathedral,. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

The churches connected with the English Establishment are under the Bishop of Calcutta, and Metropolitan of India: and the archdeacon and clergy are all salaried chaplains of the Company, appointed by the Court of Directors. Calcutta was made a bishop’s see in 1814; and on the creation of Madras and Bombay into bishoprics in 1833, the Bishop of Calcutta became Metropolitan of India, Avith jurisdiction over them, but subject himself to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The new cathedral is a splendid Gothic building, on the East of the Maidan or plain. It was erected by voluntary subscription. The old cathedral was begun in 1784, and was built by volun tary subscriptions also, under the auspices of Warren Hastings, Governor-General.

Left: St. John’s Church. Right: The Mosque of Gholaum Mahomed. The illustration of the mosque comes from the 1866 Illustrated London News and not the Gazetteer. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

St. Andrew’s Church was built, soon after the appointment of the first chaplain of the Church of Scotland, in 1814; and two ordained ministers of the Established Church of Scotland now officiate therein. They are, like the ministers of the sister establishment, salaried chaplains of the East India Company. The kirk-session in Calcutta, and that of each of the two other presidencies of Madras and Bombay, are subject to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the presbytery of Edinburgh. These three kirk-sessions jointly elect and send one minister and one elder, as their representatives, to the General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland. In 1834, a presbytery was established at Calcutta by the General Assembly, with power to license and ordain native preachers in connection with their literary institution. The Greek church was built in 1781, and the Greeks declare the crown of England the protector of their church. The ministers are taken from Greece by permission of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Armenian church was built in 1724, but has since been added to. The Armenians were invited, as far back as 1689, by Job Charnock, then Governor, to settle and trade in the Company’s factories; and a written agreement was executed between them, giving them exclusive privileges for trade, and the protection of the company.

Educational Institutions

The educational institutions, not affording religious instruction, are the college of Fort-William, for the members of the Company’s civil service; the Hindoo college, the Madrussa or Mahometan college, and the Sanscrit college, all supported by Government, and managed through their committee of general instruction. The first two are intended to bestow (through the medium of English) instruction in the sciences and literature of the West world, apart from any religious instruction. There are several schools, taught by natives, for instruction in English, and in the vernacular languages; and a native female school has been lately established by Mr. Bethune, member of council.

The educational institutions affording religious instruction are, Bishop’s college, founded, in 1820, by the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, at the in stance of Bishop Middleton, the first bishop of Calcutta. It has been munificently supported by the Church of England at home. It has a principal and two professors, from the English universities, and is intended for the education of missionaries, catechists, and schoolmasters.

The General Assembly’s institution, established in the year 1829: its object is to spread, among the native youth, a know ledge of the evidences and doctrines of the Christian religion, by means of a sound and liberal education, under ordained missionaries of the Established Church of Scotland. It is divided into the normal school, and college department; and a theological course is now added, to prepare native youths for becoming licensed ordained preachers, under the authority of the Established Church of Scotland.

The Free Church institution was established, on the Disruption, on similar principles, and with similar objects, by the able missionaries, Dr. Duff and the Rev. Wm. Mackay, who raised the other institution to its high place in public estimation.

The high school, the free school, the parental academic institution, the Christian instruction society, the infant school society, several ladies societies for native female education, the Christian tract, and book society, and the Armenian philanthropic society, are other institutions of a religious character. St. Xavier’s College, and Loretto House, are in stitutions established and conducted by Jesuits; and the latter is an establishment for the education of young ladies, con ducted by nuns of the Ursuline order, who came from England for that purpose.

The Martimere, founded under the will of General Claude Martin, a Frenchman, who had been in the Company’s service and died at Lucknow, was opened in 1836. The original be quest, with its accumulation of interest, amounted, in 1830, to nearly £100,000. The building cost about £23,000. It provides gratuitous board, &c., and a liberal education, to a certain number of both sexes, on the foundation, of indigent Christian children above the lowest class of the population, without respect to religious denominations. Boys, in better circumstances, are admitted as boarders and day scholars, to receive a superior education, at a fixed monthly fee. A course of religious instruction, and a form of prayers, were, it is worthy of remark, framed by the praiseworthy and united efforts of the Protestant bishop of Calcutta, Dr. Wilson; the Roman Catholic vicar-apostolic, Dr. St. Leger; and the senior minister of the Scotch Church, Dr. Charles, which are used by all in the school, while the children of each denomination receive private religious instruction from their respective pastors.

Benevolent Institutions and Other Societies

The Benevolent Institutions are Government savings -bank, the general hospital, the native hospital, the fever hospital, the police hospital, the Howrah seamen’s hospital, the leper asylum, dispensaries, public lunatic asylum, district charitable society, Dwarkanath Tagore’s fund for blind poor, Bengal military orphan institution, European female orphan institu tion, the sailor’s home, and some others.

The Religious Societies are numerous. The most import ant are the Church missionary association, the diocesan com mittee of the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, the diocesan committee of the society for promoting Christian knowledge, the auxiliary Bible society, the Church missionary association, Christian institution of the London missionary society, the seaman’s friend, or Bethel society, and native Christian protection society.

The Literary and Scientific Institutions are the , the mechanics institution, the public library, the medical and physical society, and the native medical college. The last is a most admirable Government institution, for training the natives to become efficient and skilful surgeons, and medical practitioners. There the highest caste Hindoo, whose religion makes it pollution and sinful, may be seen handling the dead subject, and using the scalpel like a European, without being excluded by his countrymen from the privileges of his caste a wonderful victory gained over their religious prejudices! There are also the agricultural and horticultural society; and in connection with them, may be mentioned the beautiful and extensive botanic gardens of the company, a little South of Calcutta, on the West bank of the river.

[ -562].


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 20 November 2018