Port Blair

July 26, 2012 at 11:28 am Leave a comment

My great-grandmother, Jane Isabella Hall, was born in Port Blair on May 22, 1871. She was William and Lydia’s third child and first daughter. As you can see from the map below, Port Blair was on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, over 700 miles from the Indian subcontinent.

In 1789 the government of Bengal established a penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman, named Port Blair to honor Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company. After two years, the colony moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony, and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.

In 1824 Port Cornwallis was the rendezvous of the fleet carrying the army to the First Anglo-Burmese War. In the 1830s and 1840s, shipwrecked crews who landed on the Andamans were often attacked and killed by the natives, alarming the British government. In 1855, the government proposed another settlement on the islands, including a convict establishment, but the Indian Rebellion of 1857 forced a delay in its construction.

The Headquarters of the Penal Establishment at the North End of Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Source: Illustrated London News, Feb. 24, 1872.

When the rebellion of 1857 provided the British with a lot of new prisoners, it made the new Andaman settlement and prison an urgent necessity. Construction began in November 1857 at the renovated Port Blair, avoiding the vicinity of a salt swamp which seemed to have been the source of many of the old colony’s problems. The penal colony was originally on Viper Island, named after Lieutenant Blair’s vessel, The Viper. The convicts, mostly political prisoners, suffered life imprisonment at hard labor under cruel and degrading conditions. Many were hanged, while others died of disease and starvation. Between 1864 and 1867 a penal establishment was also built with convict labor on the northern side of Ross Island. These structures are now in ruins.

 
Advertisements

Entry filed under: Halls. Tags: , , .

Secunderabad Bangladore Again – and then Wellington Hospital

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


My Mom Ada


This blog traces the family history of my mom, Edith Porter Duffy. From the time I was a little girl, my mom would tell me stories about her family, who all called her Ada. I only wish I had asked her more questions while she was still here!

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: