The early Capuchins
Referring to St. Andrew's Church in the Fort that Father Ephraim de Nevers built in 1642 (Miscellany, January 9), reader K. R. A. Narasiah provides some intriguing additional information based on that comprehensive publication, Inscriptions on Tombs and Monuments of Madras that Julian James Cotton compiled and that Dr. B. S. Baliga of the Archives edited.
In it, he found a reference to a Father Thomas de Poitiers having "built in 1675 what is described as a magnificent church for the Capuchins in the Fort, dedicated to the Apostle St. Andrew." The reference adds that this church was subsequently destroyed (in 1752, as I had stated). The 1675 structure was built as a more permanent building to replace the wooden church de Nevers had first built, I presume.
But de Nevers' fellow-priest was Padre Zenone de Bouge, who died in 1687. Zenone was succeeded by Padre Michel Anges de Bourges, who became head of the Capuchin Mission on de Nevers' death in 1694. The other Capuchin priests of this early period in Madras history were Rene d'Engouleme, Cosme de Gien, Jacques de Bourges, Esprit de Tours, Laurent d'Engouleme and Thomas de Poitiers. But it is clear that de Nevers was in charge in 1675 and any work de Poitiers did would have been under de Nevers' supervision.
Narasiah adds another note on St. Andrew's when he quotes the following from the inscriptions: "Thaniappa Mudaliar, otherwise known as Lazarus Timothy, of the Agambadi Mudali (Vellala) caste, who was a founder of the French East India Company in Pondicherry, on the twenty first day of Chittrai of Promdhutta corresponding to the current year 1691 A.D. He lies interred in St. Andrew's Church, Chennapatnam." The inscription makes Thaniappa Mudaliar appear as being to Pondicherry what Beri Thimappa was to Madras. Pondicherry _ Puduchcheri, if you wish _ was founded in 1674 by Francois Martin whose dubash Thaniappa Mudaliar might have been.
Till 1816, Pondicherry kept passing back and forth between the French and the British. It was from 1816 that today's Pondicherry took the shape it has of "a typical French coastal colonial town of sleepy French provincialism." But what was Thaniappa Mudaliar doing in Madras in 1891? Could he have fled the Dutch threat to Pondicherry?
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