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Phillimore Historical Records of the Survey of India

There are several volumes about the Survey at the British Library in London

I have picked out some pages from these books to illustrate the times when Andrew Chamarette and some of his sons worked in the Survey. You can find them in the 'Documents' section of this website.
In particular the situation in Madras, where Michael Topping had the idea of training up 'orphan' boys from the Male Asylum (called a 'military orphanage') as assistant surveyors. From the records the boys seem to have been the sons of Europeans by Indian women, whose fathers had died either from the climate or in battle. This was before intermarriage was frowned upon, and natives were not considered inferior. There were very few European women in India, and many men 'went native' - men of all ranks - the British Resident in Hyderabad, James Kirkpatrick, for instance - see the novel White Moghuls. From the records it seems that 'orphan' was a bit of a misnomer - some of them still had mothers, who were consulted about their treatment and future.

The following quotations from the records explain Topping's reasoning. At that time 'Native' was a term used for all people born in India, regardless of race.

"From the Male Asylum and other English schools at this Presidency, a number of youths might be selected. These might be trained to the business of practical surveying.... Either this expedient must be adopted, or the same number of practical Surveyors must be sent to this country from Europe. ... My reasons for preferring Native Assistants to European are the following.

First, every European ... would cost the Company as much, at least, as six Natives; besides tents, conveyances, and a liberal allowance, each European practitioner must have an Interpreter to attend him...

Secondly, each European would require a long and previous seasoning, before he could sustain the rigors of an Indian sun and climate. It is indeed hardly to be expected that one European in ten, after leaving Europe at a Mature age, could be brought to endure, for a constancy, the fatigues of so laborious an employ in the torrid zone.

Thirdly, the ease with which the establishment might be kept up, from the same fountain, is a material consideration... The Indian-born offspring of Europeans, educated in the public schools at Madras, might be rendered very useful..."

Thomas Turnbull was one of the original 12 apprentices in 1795 (he was 12 years 6 months old), and he definitely WAS from the Male Asylum. His granddaughter Amelia married Andrew's son Peter, who seems to have been an apothecary or medical doctor, not one of those who followed Andrew into the survey. Andrew himself was apprenticed in 1805, but it doesn't say where he came from. We have been assuming that Andrew was born in England - I think I got this from the St George's Church website. Perhaps they were wrong, and Andrew was born in India. Maybe his father was descended from English Hugeonots and his mother was Indian. This is a line of research to follow up.

It has been very difficult to keep down the number of pages I put into the Documents section - the records are well worth reading in total if you can get to the British Library.

Linked toAndrew Chamarette
AlbumsExtracts from Phillimore Historical Records

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