Friday, October 26, 2012
The garrison church at St Thomas Mount has several memorial plaques inside it. As befitting a martial institution, almost all of them remember soldiers who had fallen, in combat or out of it.
One military man however, seems to have been a favourite with the civilian folks of Madras as well. William Sydenham had joined the Madras Artillery as a cadet in 1768, when he was barely 16 years old. In the following 33 years, he went on to become the Commandant of that Artillery, having served in all campaigns of the First Battalion. He was apparently so smitten with Madras, and with the garrison at the Mount, that he kept coming back to it at every opportunity.
Not only was he the head of the artillery, he was also Auditor-General of Fort St George. He was promoted to that post (and the rank of Major General) in January 1801, but he did not serve for long. Sydenham died on June 13, 1801. The generosity of the East India Company was large-hearted enough for him to be provided this memorial just behind the garrison church, rather than just a marble marker inside it!