Posts tagged ‘Fort St. George’

Fort St. George and Black Town

This map was drawn when the French occupied Fort St. George for a short time. Look for Noir Ville to see the location of Black Town.

When William and Lydia Selina were married in 1863, William lived at Fort St. George and Lydia lived in Black Town. ‘These two places eventually combined with other settlements in the area to form the city of Madras. Today, this city is called Chennai and is the fourth largest city in India.

In the 1600s, the East India Company wanted to establish a port on the Bay of Bengal. After a few unsuccessful attempts, they were able to rent a piece of land from a local Raja. One stipulation was that any building erected on the property had to be painted white. The settlement was fortified by tall walls as protection against both local royalty and other European nations seeking to cash in on the lucrative Indian trade. Over the years, the fort expanded, and its population grew.  People, both Indian and European, began to build houses and businesses outside the walls of the fort. This section on the outside of the fort was called Black Town.  Gradually, non-military personnel moved out of the fort and into Black Town. As this area grew, it became the commercial center of the new city of Madras. Its name was changed from Blacktown to Georgetown at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In spite of their names of White Town and Black Town, each of these areas  was populated by both Europeans and Indians. Eventually, the fort was surrounded by the city of Madras. The Fort served as the administrative headquarters for the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu state until the twenty-first century.  Some buildings are open to the public, including the Fort Museum which contains many relics of the Raj era, including portraits of many of the Governors of Madras. The map to the right of the Madras area in 1893, about 20 years after the Halls returned to Scotland, shows the small military fort, just south of the much larger settlement of Black Town.

This model of early Madras clearly shows the difference between White Town and Black Town. The Bay of Bengal is near the bottom edge of the photo.

July 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

My First Official Record – Wm Hall and Lydia Ramsbottom

The Church of Latter Day Saints has undertaken the enomous job of microfilming vital records for people all over the world. Their Web site, Family Search, has many of these records online, including the marriage record of William Hall and Lydia Selena Ramsbottom

Groom’s Name: William Hall
Groom’s Birth Date: 1838 Groom’s Age: 25
Bride’s Name: Lydia Selina Ramsbottom
Bride’s Birth Date: 1842
Bride’s Age: 21
Marriage Date: 08 Jul 1863
Marriage Place: Blacktown, Madras, India
Groom’s Father’s Name: William Hall
Bride’s Father’s Name: Samuel Ramsbottom
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M00060-0
System Origin: India-EASy Source Film Number: 52185
Collection: India, Marriages, 1792-1948

Why do the Mormons do this important work, I wondered. I found one answer on

“Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually referred to as Mormons, place great emphasis on genealogical research. This is because their Church doctrine states that “saving ordinances” (including baptism, confirmation, endowment, and sealing-marriage) must be made available to every individual who has ever lived. To make these ordinances available to people who did not have the opportunity while living, Mormons identify their ancestors and arrange for baptism and other ordinances to be performed for them by proxy—that is, with a living person standing in for the deceased person—in a temple. Often referred to as temple work, this search for ancestors is an important part of the Mormon faith.”

As I began my genealogy work, I found many important records on the Family Seach site, especially for my Scottish ancestors. I have visited our local Family History Center in Cincinnati, but I just ordered my first roll of microfilm this week. I asked for the film that includes the record for William and Lydia’s marriage. I am hoping the original record has some additional information on it and will give me more clues about our family’s Indian Princess.

July 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

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!

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