Archive / Papers / Gwynn Papers: Box 2


Letters of J.T. Gwynn, I.C.S. 1912 – 1921 (father of J.P.L. Gwynn) to his mother, father, sisters etc.


  1. 28 January. Madras Club. Carmichael going to Bengal; highly thought of by some. The son of a Muslim Collector going to Trinity College, Dublin, asks his family to look after him.
  2. 7 February. Madras. Low opinion of Legislative Councils.
  3. 12 February. Madras. Enormous amount of work – jibs at standard of inefficiency in the P.W.D.
  4. 18 February. Madras. Again complains of work load and P.W.D. Lists the wide range of interests and occupations of administrators he meets.
  5. 4 March. Madras Club. Visited by a Forest Officer Scot in an Indianized district. lncident of a village killing five Forest subordinates. Comments on British strikes. Low opinion of new headmaster of native college. Missionary societies, education and Hindu militancy. Current Religious Education Conference Madras and Bombay. Educational Service agnostic.
  6. 17 March. Madras Club. Religious Education Conference seeking an all-embracing religion, also discussing demand for education without Christian instruction.
  7. 27 March. Madras. Cardew to be replaced by Wynch. Comments on quality of personnel and quantity of the work, and Claims and P.W.D.
  8. 3 April. Madras Club. Mentions Mohammedan boy (No. 42-146) will arrive at end of May in TCD.
  9. 8 April. Madras. Consideration of staff movement and vacancies in Revenue Department, and his leave. Attitude towards Government Secretariat. Unable to meet Indians; detrimental effect of volume of work; negative attitude of Legislative Councils. Characters of Cardew, Hammick, Harold Stuart, Davidson, Horne, Gillman, Davis. Centralisation and decentralisation – opinion of administration poor, reasons. Opinion of Indian labour. Questions standard of school inspection.
  10. 16 April. Ootacamund Club. Describes physical impact of Ooty, and Seven Pagodas.
  11. 23 April. Ootacamund Club. Ooty social life. Contrast between working for Cardew and Wynch.
  12. 25 May. (Ootacamund). Legislative Council’s resolution for decrease in taxation. Comment on Wynch and J. Atkinson and necessity for decentralization. Government of India and Madras’ problems. Mentions the word ‘native’ may no longer be used. Comment on power of Indian members to change customs e.g. Temple Service prostitution. Power in Native States.
  13. 2 June. (Ootacamund). Perils from crows on the Ooty golf course. Amusing anecdote of bull terrier. Incomplete.
  14. 9 June. Ootacamund Club. Hoping to go on leave. Amusing anecdotes. 2pp.
  15. 18 June. Ootacamund Club. Monsoon, Knighthoods in Madras.
  16. 30 June. Ootacamund Club. Sir Edmund Barrow might have been Kitchener’s successor. Reason for different choice of Moore O’Creagh. Opinions expressed by Sir Harold Stuart and Sir Edmund Barrow on Lord and Lady Minto, Lord and Lady Hardinge, Privy Council’s overruling High Court Calcutta. Account of mixed hunting in the Ooty country. Compares clerk’s life in India and England, and methods of working. 4pp.


  1. 10 February. S.S. Salsette. Returning to India. Sees silver bars being trans-shipped at Aden by night. Probably for Mint in Bombay. Madras Civil Service Commission witnesses. Amicable proceedings except for editor of the Hindu. Character of Gokhale, leading Commission.
  2. 11 February. S.S. Salsette. Describes other passengers, especially American and German. Opinion of Civil Service recruitment, Provincial Civil Service, and possibilities of rising in rank in the Service. Attitude towards higher appointments and possibility of Indians getting them. 3pp.
  3. 19 February. c/o D.T. Chadwick, Madras. Civil Service Commission inflaming hatred between Indian and European – Assistance given by Indian members of Commission, except for Gokhale. European attitudes towards Indian members especially Ramsay Macdonald, Islington and Mr. Corbet. Describes the latter’s lack of qualifications for post of Advocate of High Court, Madras, and incidents of his arrival, exemplifying social modes of the time. Going to Pudu Kottai as D.C.
  4. 23 February Pudu Kottai. Raja celebrating silver jubilee.
  5. 27 February. Madras (copy). Describes Raja’s jubilee – 30 or 40 European guests. Describes his army; (mentions boomerangs indigenous to area), durbars; processions. Comment on Raja’s manners and personality. 3pp.
  6. 11 March. Pudu Kottai. Describes district; lists organizations, buildings, etc., he is responsible for. State 30 years behind. British India. Attitude to Indians of two Europeans living in town.
  7. 27 April. Pudu Kottai Diatribe against Brahmins, a few good. Praise for British administration. Attitude to Indian philosophy.
  8. 3 May. Trichinopoly. Hot weather, going on tour. Has been checking PWD stores. Comment on quality of subordinate staff. Social occasions. Attitudes to Indians. News of marriage reaches India via newspapers.
  9. 11 May. Camp Kiranur. Story of the delivery of a fire engine and rice-husking machine.
  10. 18 May. Camp Viralimakai. In office most of time. Mixed blessing of motorcar. Dreary country. People less self-assertive. More about hot tempered Engineer.
  11. 14 June. Pudu Kottai. Very hot just before monsoon. Describes trees and creepers in compound. Railway strike in Madras.
  12. 29 June. Pudu Kkottai. Example of a case of wrongful accusation Good opinion of Engineer Gill’s work, compares it with Indian’s work.
  13. 30 June. Korombapudu. Discovers trees planted by Major Blackburne, Resident 1830-48. Ruin of his indigo factory – example of wasted land.
  14. 7 July. Chinnayachattram. Mainly personal about his wife’s (Joan) impending arrival. Comment on the ethics of the State.
  15. 13 July. Pudukkottai. Mainly personal. Going to a SPMR camp at Coimbatore. Example of the Raja’s extravagence.
  16. 29 July. Pudukkottai. Personal. Mentions his garden.
  17. 31 August. Pudukkottai. Comments on work accomplished by his garden staff, and on the water system of the State.
  18. 21 September. Pudukkottai. Failure of S.W. monsoon. Incompetence of all Departments in the State.
  19. 5 October Pudukkottai. Gardening. Amusing anecdotes. Wife (Joan) on way out. (Attached Tamil receipt). 2pp.
  20. 19 October. Pudukkottai. Account of Head of College selling his own books to the school. Public opinion shocked.
  21. 11 November. Pudukkottai. Wife has arrived.
  22. 18 November. Pudukkottai. Mentions that wife is transforming house. Have been busy with Raja’s visit to Viceroy in Madras.
  23. 26 November. c/o D.T. Chadwick, Madras. Describes wife’s visit to Raja’s sister Princess Jonahy at Trichinopoly; most amusing; dinner with Raja. Raja’s visit to Viceroy at Madras. Describes accommodation hired in Madras. New Forest Officer Latham arrives at Trichinopoly.


  1. 14 January. (Pudukkottai). Been in Madras for dentist. Comment on his position in Raja’s court, and Raja’s nephew. 3pp.
  2. 20 January. Pudukkottai. Describes difficult journey to Madras. Joan settling in to Indian society and life. New English-Indian Ladies Club opened in Madras. New Collector and P.A. arrived, Vibert, also Assistant Collector. 3pp.
  3. 2 February. Pudukkottai. Mentions Irish politics in relation to Sir Gabriel Stokes. Attitudes to European and Indian subordinates and political consciousness.
  4. 2 March. Pudukkottai. Been to opening of new railway route to Ceylon via Adam’s bridge. Meets Hemingway again.
  5. 22 May. Pudukkottai – from Joan Gwynn. Viberts and Gawnes staying, Collector and Assistant Collector. Describes social life. 4pp.
  6. 10 May. Camp Ponnomarovaty. Comment on Hindu administration. Describes complicated method of collecting taxes used in State. Ponnomarovaty village of usurers retired from Penang, Rangoon, Singapore. Further complications of land tenure. Case of heir presumptive being tricked.
  7. 25 May. Ootacamund. Good Brahmin Engineer building new Pudukkottai Palace. Heir presumptive taking case to court. Lists variety of problems.
  8. 7 June. Pudukkottai. Lists people being entertained including first woman doctor in Madras.
  9. 5 September.. Colombo, Galle Face Hotel. Have met relations en route to England from Australia – India’s attitude to the war.
  10. 5 September. Colombo, Galle Face Hotel. Commentary on war.
  11. From Joan Gwynn. 16 September. Pudukkottai. Account of collecting subscriptions from Pudukkottai ladies. Garden. Housekeeping.
  12. 24 September. Pudukkottai. The Emden has shelled Madras and sailed down coast – War comment.
  13. From Joan Gwynn. 18 November. Pudukkottai. Gardening and mentions Maharaja’s brother’s wedding. 2pp.
  14. 21 November. Pudukkottai. Comments on his attitude to Indian ceremonial and to appointment of an Indian judge. Comment on the war. Encloses prospective judge’s letter.
  15. From Joan Gwynn. 24 November. Pudukkottai. Describes in detail Raja’s Garden Party to 100 State officials, also a very large War meeting where she was only woman among 10,000. Dines at Palace. 6pp.


  1. From Joan Gwynn. 16 March. Camp Jembal. Aspects of camp organisation in desolate country in hot weather. From J.T. Gwynn on reverse. Special kind of chetties in village marrying only within village: building huge stone temple. Describes country. 3pp.
  2. From Joan Gwynn. 24 March. Pudukkottai. Describes in detail staying at temple in Avudyakoil as guests of Abbot, and their tremendous reception. 6pp. Encloses small drawing of large horns. (musical instruments).
  3. 2 April Pudukkottai Aspect of the war from India. State’s finances – second hot weather for his wife. Hopes of leave.
  4. n.d. Pudukkottai. Comments on Indians entertained, men and women. Going into camp. Horses taught to come for dessert. Sidelights on dealing with servants. 2pp.
  5. 29 June. Camp Puntope. Mentions war, strikes, etc. in England and Ireland. Questions of village education. 2pp.
  6. From Joan Gwynn. 13 July. Camp Ponnamarabaty. Domestic details of camp and servants. 2pp.
  7. 11 July. Camp Ponnamarabaty. Encloses letter from an Indian lawyer from Tinnevelly about the floods in Tambarapurini River. War comment.
  8. Letter from S.K. Sudha, Srivaikuntam. Detailed description of origin and progress of the floods, and rescue operations, which includes description of ferrying pots of provisions across the river (like toddy drawers).Plans to resettle village of Magilvannapuram (Muslim) and rebuild it as an ideal village on S. slope of Sri Moolakarai hillock. Details of plans. 7pp.


  1. 18 January 1918. Viraghottam (Vizagapatam District). India and the war. Learning Telegu. Has been training Deputy Collectors; trying to suggest anti-capitalist views of land questions. 3pp.
  2. 30 January 1918. Camp Kottisa, Palkonda Taluk. About work and colleague. War. Part of page torn off. 2pp.
  3. 26 February – 9 March 1920. Rahamuth Bagh, San Thome. Joan on the way home with the children. Effect of India buying gold: Irish situation. Attitude towards British drawing out of India and reasons. 3pp. + newspaper cutting about Irish situation.
  4. 5 August 1920. Kodai Kanal. On leave. Describes area and settlement, population. Pessimistic about Indian politics (after Jallianwalla Bagh) which had left a deep scar, and proposed Montague-Chelmsford reforms. In present circumstances only remedy increase in Indians to top posts of services. Indian politicians publicly act on assumption that early termination of British connection would be best thing. Privately may think differently. 2pp.
  5. 16 December 1920. Madras. Irish troubles. Thinks Indian situation equally bad – certain classes have caught disease of nationalism/racism. Reasons for this nationalistic feeling due to inherent characteristics, also admits wound of foreign domination. Pessimistic. 6pp.