George Uglow Pope

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Statue of G U Pope in Triplicane, Chennai

George Uglow Pope (24 April 1820–11 February 1908) or G.U. Pope was a Anglican Christian missionary and Tamil scholar who spent 40 years in Tamil Nadu and translated many Tamil texts into English. His popular translations included those of the Tirukkural and Tiruvachagam. He was the head of the Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore and a Lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford. A statue on the Chennai beach recognizes him for his contribution to the understanding and promotion of the Tamil language.

Biography[edit]

George Uglow Pope was born on 24 April 1820 in Bedeque, Prince Edward Island in Canada. His father was John Pope (1791–1863), of Padstow, Cornwall, a merchant who became a missionary, who emigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1818, and Catherine Uglow (1797-1867), of Stratton, north Cornwall. The family moved to Nova Scotia, St. Vincent's before returning to Plymouth, England in 1826 where John Pope became a prosperous merchant and ship-owner.[1] George Uglow Pope's and his younger brother William Burt Pope studied at the Wesleyan schools in Bury and Hoxton and at the age of fourteen George joined missionary service in southern India.[2]

He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Pope started studying Tamil as a teenager in England and during the voyage to India and Pope later turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. In 1841 he was ordained by the Church of England and he married Mary Carver, daughter of another Anglican priest. Pope worked in the Tirunelveli region where he also interacted with other missionaries like Christian Friedrich Schwartz. In 1845, Mary died at Tuticorin and Pope moved to Madras. He married Henrietta Page, daughter of G. van Someren and they left for England in 1849. During this period he worked with many figures in the Oxford Catholic movement including such as Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, Archbishop Trench, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop John Lonsdale, E. B. Pusey, and John Keble.[2]

Returning to Tanjore in 1851, teaching at St Peter's School, he found himself in conflict with other missionaries. In 1855, a Tamil priest Vedanayakam Shastri who was a disciple of Schwartz and a poet in the court of Maharaja Serfoji was flogged publicly resulting in a separation of Tamil church free of the Anglican church leading to the resignation of Pope. He founded a seminary at Sawyerpuram for training Anglican Tamil clergy but this too ran into trouble and he decided to move to Ootacamund in 1859. Here he founded a grammar school for European children (which ran from 1859 to 1870) which is now home to the Government Arts School and Stonehouse. The grammar school at Stonehouse cottage was opened by the Bishop of Madras on 2nd July 1858 with Pope as Principal. The school moved elsewhere as the building was sold to the Trustees of the Lawrence Asylum in March 1859. Stonehouse cottage was then used to house the male asylum inmates and the Grammar school moved to new premises in Lovedale on 1 April 1869.[3] He also founded Holy Trinity Church in Ooty.[2] Pope was referred to with respect by the Tamilians as Pope Aiyar.[4]

Pope became famous for his strictness and in 1870 he was made principal of Bishop Cotton's School in Bangalore.[2] He was also the first pastor of the All Saints Church at Bangalore.[5] In 1881, Pope left India and settled in Oxford where he made a mark as a lecturer in Tamil and Telugu (1884). He received an honorary MA in 1886 and a Gold Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1906.[2]

He died on 12 February 1908. He delivered his last sermon on May 26, 1907. Pope was buried at St Sepulchre's Cemetery, located in Jericho, central Oxford, England. After his death, his second wife, Henrietta, and two daughters received pension. Henrietta died on 11 September 1911 and is buried beside Pope. Three of their sons continued to work in India. John Van Someren Pope worked on education in Burma, Arthur William Uglow Pope served as a railway engineer in India and China; while Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Henry served in the medical service as a professor of ophthalmology at the Madras Medical College.[2]

Contributions to Tamil studies[edit]

Pope was along with Joseph Constantius Beschi, Francis Whyte Ellis, and Bishop Robert Caldwell one of the major scholars on Tamil. His first work was A Catechism of Tamil Grammar (1842). His most famous work is the translation of the Tirukkural which he completed on September 1, 1886. His Sacred Kural contains introduction, grammar, translation, notes, lexicon and concordance. It also includes the English translation of F. W. Ellis and the Latin Translation of Constanzo Beschi (வீரமாமுனிவர்) with 436 pages. He had, by February 1893, translated Naaladiyaar (நாலடியார்), a didactic work of moral sayings in quatrains (வெண்பா), 400 in number in 40 chapters, each by a Jain ascetic, according to a Tamil tradition. His magnum opus, the translation of Tiruvachakam(திருவாசகம்) appeared in 1900. Of this he said: "I date this on my eightieth birthday. I find, by reference, that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. This ends, as I suppose a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. It is not without deep emotion that I thus bring to a close my life's literary work". He dedication this last work to Benjamin Jowett who had been a friend while serving as chaplain at Balliol College (1888).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Uglow Family History". www.kent.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-12-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Frykenberg, Robert Eric (2004). "The Dictionary of National Biography - William Burt Pope". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35572. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016. 
  3. ^ Price, Frederick (1908). Ootacamund. A History. Madras: Government Press. p. 20. 
  4. ^ Thurston, Edgar (1909). Castes and tribes of southern India. Volume I-A and B. Government Press. p. 19. 
  5. ^ Rizvi, Aliyeh (29 December 2014). "Resident Rendezvoyeur: A natural state of grace". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

External links[edit]