Bishops of our Diocese

This 207 year old, heritage filled diocese of ours has seen an amazing array of leadership in terms of its Bishop’s and Metropolitants. The names and a little bit of history of these dedicated men of God have not only been laid down on this webpage, but in the pages of History of Calcutta.

Thomas Fanshawe Middleton (Bishop of Calcutta 1814 – 1822)

He was a noted Anglican Bishop.  He was born in Kedleston in Derbyshire, England.  Middleton attended Cambridge University and upon graduation he was ordained in the Church of England.  In 1814, he became the first Bishop of Calcutta.  The Diocese included not just India, but the entire territory of the East India Company.  While a Bishop, he founded the Bishop’s College in Calcutta.  Middleton died in Calcutta of sunstroke on July 8, 1822.  He is buried in the sanctuary of St. John’s Church.

Bishop Middleton’s Episcopate lasted for just eight years and his early death was caused more by worry and anxiety than by the Indian climate.  He was a man of nervous temperament, intensely solicitous for the success of his exertions and liable to depression from unreasonable and vexatious opposition.  His thirst for knowledge was insatiable and to the end kept up his study of Greek literature.  He was a dignified and kindly man, though inclined to be unbending.

At times he took up an attitude of excessive dignity which was misunderstood and one cannot help feeling that to a certain extent he created some of his own difficulties.  Dr. Barnes, the Archdeacon of Bombay (now Mumbai), writing of him says: “It would be scarcely reasonable to expect another so great and so good a man as Dr. Middleton, at once a scholar and divine who from conscientious motives was firmly attached to the Church. 

He lived in very difficult times and supported the Churches interest with firmness and judgment.  His only fault was something of a high carriage in his public demeanour, which gave an unfavourable impression to many.  

Unfortunately he had no sound legal advisor, when legal advice would have been of the greatest benefit to him.  He was a powerful preacher.”  Fearing any temptation to earthly fame, he had all his manuscripts destroyed before his death.  In a poem written shortly before his death he says,

“Many life’s brief remnant all be Thine,

And when Thy sure decree

Bids me this fleeting breath resign,

Oh speed my soul to Thee!”


Reginald Heber was a Church of England Bishop, now remembered chiefly as a hymn-writer.  He was consecrated on June 1st, 1823.  He died on April 3rd. 1827 and is buried in the sanctuary of St. John’s Church, Trichnolopy.

Reginald Heber showed remarkable promise.  In November 1800 he entered Brasenose College, Oxford, where he proved to be a distinguished student, receiving prizes for a Latin poem entitled ‘Carmen Seculare’, an English poem on Palestine and a prose essay, ‘The Sense of Honour’.

Having taken holy orders in 1807, he took up residence in Hodnet in Shropshire.  He was made prebendary of St. Asaph in 1812 and appointed second Bishop of Calcutta in January 1823.  Before sailing for India he received the degree of DD from the University of Oxford.

In India, Bishop Heber labored indefatigably not only for the good of his own Diocese, but for the spread of Christianity throughout the East.  He toured the countryconsecrating churches, founding schools and discharging other Christian duties.

His devotion to his work in a trying climate told severely to his health.  At Trichinopoly (Trichy) he was seized with an apoplectic fit when in his bath, which caused his death.  In Trichy, Bishop Heber College is named after him and is famous for education and sports.  A statue of him, by Chantrey, was erected at Calcutta to honour him.  Another monument to Heber, also by Chantrey, can be seen along the South wall of the ambulatory of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.  Heber is depicted as a kneeling figure in Episcopal robes.  The relief of the pedestal represents the prelate confirming converted Indians.

When Heber was first offered the Bishopric of Calcutta he refused it.  He had strong reasons for doing so.  The future health of his wife and child and the fact that his own home prospects were exceptionally bright, made

the offer by no means entirely attractive to him. He had however, strong missionary longings, as is evident in his hymns, and after long and anxious deliberations and much prayer, he consented to sacrifice home comforts and brilliant prospects in England for a toilsome life in a distant land.

Bishop Heber was a devoted parish priest, a brilliant scholar, a true poet, a fascinating personality.  “No man”, wrote young Lady Ashley (afterwards the great Earl of Shaftesbury), “ever equaled Bishop Heber.  His talents were of the most exquisite character.  If he were not a Socrates, able to knock down by force of reasoning the most stubborn opposers, he was like Orpheus, who led even stones and trees by the enchantment of his music.”  [Life of Shaftesbury, Vol I].  We know him best now as a hymn writer and truly, the author of “Holy, holy, holy,” and “The Son of God goes forth to war.”


John Thomas James was a Church of England Bishop.  He was the third Bishop of Calcutta from 1827 to 1828.  He was consecrated on June 3rd, 1827 and enthroned on January 19, 1828.  He died and was buried at sea, a few miles off Singapore on August 22, 1828.

Leaving his two elder children at East SheenBishop and Mrs. James and their baby, sailed on July 9, 1827, in the ‘Mary Ann’, bound for Calcutta.  It was on the whole a pleasant voyage.  On October 14 they reached the Cape of Good Hope, Africa.  The Bishop had important work to do there and he and his party stayed with Lieutenant-Governor Burke at the Governor’s House.  The Cape was not then in the Calcutta Diocese, though it was so afterwards for a short time.  Bishop James visited it by a special commission from the Crown.  There were at this time only five Church of England clergy at the Cape, three colonial parties, one military chaplain and one missionary of the S. P. G.  On October 21 Bishop James confirmed about five hundred people in the Dutch Reformed Church and at a meeting held a few days later raised no less than £2,180 for an English Church, as well as received promises of timber and of labour from carpenters and other artificiers.

On March 14, 1828, they reached Saugor road at the mouth of the river Hoogly.

On March 27, Bishop James consecrated the Church of St. Peter in Fort William, which had been built some years before.  Bishop James was a firm believer in the parochial system and during his short Episcopate he divided Calcutta into four parochial districts:

  1. Cathedral:  Saint John’s
  2. Old Mission Church
  3. Saint James’
  4. Saint Peters’, Fort William

In his early days the Bishop had been remarkable in his thoughtfulness for others. The characteristics was soon manifest in India, especially in connection with the health of his missionary clergy.  It is to him first that the idea of finding health resorts in the hills is to be attributed.

He had appointed Mr. Robinson, the distinguished Chaplain of Bishop Heber, to the Archdeacon of Madras (now Chennai).  He at once got in touch with Archdeacon Robinson about a sanatorium for missionaries in “the Nelly Grey Hills,” as the Nilgiris were then popularly described.  He was also much interested in the question of Eurasian ministry.  Then came the crowning act of his Episcopate, his first and only Visitation.  It was held on June 20, 1828.  In his charge, he dwelt on the need for greater cooperation not only amongst the Clergy but amongst all Christians in India.  Only with the greatest difficulty was he able to get through his Visitation.  The condition of his health had become quiet alarming and the doctors in Calcutta were anxious that he avoided straining himself on his tour.  He started his tour on June 24.  His intention was to journey as far as Allahabad by boat and then onwards, like Bishop Heber, into Upper India.  It is interesting to note that in those days the Ganges was the great highway to Northern India.  The Grant Trunk Road belonged to later days.  The journey from Calcutta to Buxar by boat lasted two months and the journey to Allahabad, which today takes eighteen hours by train, took in those days three months!

Everything was done to make the Bishop’s voyage comfortable, as far as it could be done.  The Bishop and his wife and baby were in the first boat.  There were also the usual “cook-boats”.  For the first few days the Bishop seemed to find relief, and it really seemed as if his health was improving.  When, however, they reached Bhagalpore, he was wracked with terrible pain in his side.  It was then quiet clear that he was suffering from abscess of the liver, and his only chance of life was a sea voyage.  The doctor pronounced most strongly that he must never return to India.  The voyage back to Calcutta was quickly accomplished, but so ill was the Bishop that he was not allowed to land at Calcutta to see the new Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck. 

He at once embarked on the “Marquis of Huntly”, on e of East India Company’s boats, which was bound for Penang.  By the middle of August it was perfectly clear that his end was approaching and on August 17, Mrs. James, when reading to him the eighteenth chapter of St. Matthew, spoke to him of his approaching death.  “If it is so,” said the Bishop, “my hope and my firm faith in Jesus Christ.”  One other hope he expressed before his death, was that his wife and children might be provided for. 

On Friday, August 22, he received the Holy Communion and passed away that evening.  He was buried at sea, as the ship was many days from Penang.  It gives one some idea of the difference between those days and the days we live in, when we read that while he died on August 22, 1828, no news of his death reached India till October 17.  Today the tragic news would have taken perhaps less than an hour; then it took nearly two months!

John Matthew Turner (Bishop of Calcutta 1829 -1832)

Consecrated on May 17, 1829.  Enthroned December 10, 1829.  Died July 7, 1831 and buried in the churchyard of St. John’s Cathedral, Calcutta

Rev. John Matthew Turner, previous to his appointment as the fourth Bishop of Calcutta, was the Rector of Willslow, in Cheshire and Prebendary of Lincoln.

Bishop Turner had unquestionably a wonderful knowledge of parochial work and he was soon in a position to start many improvements in Calcutta.  Writing of his work he says, “I preach twice on Sundays – in the morning at the Cathedral (St. John’s Church) Calcutta and in the evening at Bishop’s College.  I have catechetical lecture to a class of about hundred and fifty every Wednesday morning during Lent at the Cathedral and an evening lecture very largely attended, on Friday evening.  I am engaged in reforming the mode of teaching in the native English Schools connected with the Establishment:  I have carried into effect a Direct Visiting Society for the whole of Calcutta and its neighbourhood.  I have laid the ground and shall soon, I trust, get accomplished a Society for the Protection of Religious Instructions of Seamen in the Port of Calcutta and for a savings bank and, furthermore, I have three Church buildings.  You will agree that I must at least be a busy man. 

Would that were more a man of business!  Some of the details of these things, which are now very embarrassing, would then become easy.”

Of the three churches here mentioned, one was at the free School, the second was a Mariner’s Church at the Custom House and the third at Howrah.

Daniel Wilson
(Bishop of Calcutta 1832 – 1835, Bishop of Calcutta

and Metropolitan of India 1835 – 1858)

Daniel Wilson, the fifth Bishop of Calcutta and the first Metropolitan of India was called from his outstanding work as Vicar of Islington to India when over fifty years of age.  It was a courageous step for a man of Wilson’s age to take, and he rightly resolved to take responsible precautions to stay alive in order to serve the Church.  He occupied his post for twenty six years and during that long period displayed a tireless energy in building up the life of the Anglican Church in India.  Besides procuring the foundation of the Diocese of Madras (now Chennai) and Bombay (now Mumbai), he inaugurated the Additional Clergy Society.  Innumerable churches, erected in the cities of northern and central India through his own liberality and the power of his exhortations, is a witness to his zeal for the house of God. 

In 1848, he consecrated the Cathedral of St. Paul in Calcutta, to the building and endowment of which he contributed a sum of £20,000 generously from his own purse. He was a man of great courage, full of evangelical fervour.  He manifested an intense spirit of prayer and fostered assiduously the missionary work of the Church.  In 1835, he was noted for calling India’s caste system “a cancer”.  He was a great spiritual leader, a visionary and a true missionary.

Towards the end of the year 1838, Bishop Wilson was deeply moved by news, which came from Krishnanagar (District of Nadia in West Bengal) of a large number of Indians pressing into the Church.  Hundreds of inquiries had already appeared and amongst them were anxious candidates for baptism.  Krishnanagar was not the only place where there seemed at that period to have been a movement towards the Christian Church.

“What is all this?” said the Bishop.  “What is God about to do for us in India?  Thousands of souls seem to be making their way up from the shadow of death to the fair light of Christ; or rather, as we hope, are about to be

translated from darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son!”  The Bishop himself baptised quiet a number of these converts.

He arrived at Calcutta on Monday, November 5, 1832 and was met by Archdeacon Corrie and Dr. William Hodge MillPrincipal of Bishop’s College.  He was at once installed in the Cathedral and in a short address reminded his hearers that for thirty years he had served the Church.

The territories then included in the Diocese of Calcutta were enormous.  What are now over forty dioceses were then included within it.  His preliminary work in Calcutta seems to have been peculiarly difficult, as no correspondence of his predecessors with the Government had been kept. 

The Bishop almost at once visited the Bishop’s College and all the Church Schools in Calcutta.  He felt it his duty to write to Madras, Bombay, Ceylon, Australia and even to China, giving to the Clergy in those regions his spiritual advice.  He appointed Rev. Thomas Carr Archdeacon in the place of Archdeacon Barnes of Bombay, who had retired.  He was a prodigious letter-writer and his letters to the Clergy were certainly most spiritual.  He made constant appeals to them to live devoted lives.

The Bishop, on arriving in Calcutta, at once took up his residence in the house acquired by Bishop Heber.  Finding the furniture very poor, he addressed Archdeacon Corrie on the subject.  The Archdeacon replied, “I thought there was enough for six months!”  It was clear that he had thought , in view of the speedy deaths of Bishop Heber, James and Turner that Bishop Wilson’s Episcopate would certainly not last more than six months!

Hardly had one difficult problem been solved when another came up for solution.  This time it was a question of great importance connected with a school, which has since become famous.  General Martina Frenchman, one of the well-known European adventurers in India, had amassed an immense fortune.  When dying, he left a very large sum of money to the Government for a school in Calcutta.  The school was intended for European and Anglo-Indian children.  The General was by no means a religious man, but he had a heart for the poor.  Though a Roman Catholic, he left his money without any reservation.  The actual amount was something like one hundred and sixty thousand pounds.  His desire was that the children who were to benefit by this school should, when their education was completed, be apprenticed, and every year a small premium and a medal given to the most deserving or virtuous boy or girl.  His will stated “that at an annual public dinner the toast should be drunk in the memory of the founder”; that on each anniversary of his death a sermon should be preached to the children in “the church” and that the institution should bear on its front a suitable inscription and be called La Martiniere.  All matters connected with the investment of the money and the scheme of education was left entirely to the discretion of the Indian Government and the Supreme Court.

For thirty years after his death no scheme of education was devised; then, under the influence of Sir William Russell, a sum of seventeen thousand pounds was spent on a school building in Calcutta, which was to include the erection of a Church or Chapel for Divine Service.

Bishop Wilson died in Calcutta on 2nd January 1858, after a long and illustrious career of service to the religious cause.

George Edward Lynch Cotton
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1858 – 1867)

George Edward Lynch Cotton was an educator and churchman, renowned for his connections with the British India and the public school system.

In 1858 Cotton was offered the office of the sixth Bishop of Calcutta, which after much hesitation, he accepted.  The Government of India had just been transferred from the British East India Company to the crown and questions of education were eagerly discussed, following Macaulay’s famous minute.

Cotton established schools for British and Eurasian children. The Bishop’s Cotton Schools in Bangalore and Simla bear his name; he founded many other schools in India, including St. James’ School in Calcutta and Cathedral and John Connon in Bombay.

On October 7, 1866 he had gone of Dacca to consecrate a cemetery at Kushtea (now in Bangladesh) on the Ganges.  It was twilight when he returned to the river bank.  The barge Rhotas in which he was travelling was moored in mid-stream and a crude causeway of planks bridged the distance.  Cotton’s foot slipped and he fell into the flowing water.  His body was never recovered. 

Old Style camp of the Bishops

The coming of railway made obsolete the old style of episcopal visitation, which kept an Indian Bishop, particularly the Bishop of Calcutta, out of his see city for months at a time.  Cotton’s first visitation from September 1859 to January 1861 was the last to be made in the old style, as he travelled up the Ganges to Benares in the official barge towed by a steamer.  From Benares to Lahore there were metalled roads suitable for horse drawn carriages except near the great rivers, where floods made metalling impossible; but through most of the Punjab to Peshawar it was still necessary to use palanquins.  For the journey through Oudh from Bombay to Benares, which took from November 1860 to January 1861, an old-style camp was formed for the last time.  The following “correct list of our cottage” was whimsically given by Cotton:

1 prelate’s wife
1 prelate’s daughter
1 chaplain 1 doctor
1 captain of escort
1 nurse

1 prelate 31 servants
10 elephants
14 horse and ponies
4 masalchis (scullions)
10 bheesties (water-carriers)
8 sweepers
8 sowars (horsemen)
80 sepoys (soldiers)
31 dooly bearers (carrying chairs)
1 moonshie (clerk)
55 kellassies (a class of servant)
65 camels
16 bullocks

“One cow and her calf, goats sheep, ducks ad libitum, sundry pariah dogs and one cat, never seen but said to consume all butter, sugar &c. that disappears unaccountably.”

On a visit to central India at the end of 1862 Cotton still found no metalled roads and had to travel entirely by palanquin.  By 1865, however, there was almost continuous railway communication to the far north-west.  Cotton’s successor, Milman, could carry out almost all his visitations by rail, though in Central Provinces he still had sometimes to be borne hazardously across a river in a railway truck on an unfinished bridge.

Robert Milman
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1867 – 1876)

Bishop Milman the seventh Bishop of Calcutta was a great evangelist.  Robert Milman, who succeeded Bishop Cotton was great as an educationist, he was equally great as an evangelist.  Some missionary Bishops have won great reputation as organisers of work, as builders of Churches, as educationists and linguists, but with Robert Milman it was preaching of the living Word, which absorbed almost the whole of his attention.  He was constantly touring during his Episcopate, but he never visited any place where he did not seize the opportunity of proclaiming the everlasting Gospel.  His zeal in spreading the Gospel was exemplary and won him many admirers and followers.

Bishop Milman was consecrated Bishop of Calcutta on 2nd February, 1867.  The ceremony took place in Canterbury Cathedral.  He was accompanied to India by his sister, to whom he was devoted.  She lived with him throughout the whole of his time there and afterwards wrote his memoirs.  From the commencement of his Indian career he set himself to study several of the Indian languages – Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and what is more, mastered them thoroughly. In 1835  the Calcutta Diocese had been  relieved of the Madras and Bombay Presidencies, but

by the year 1867 the Punjab, Central Provinces, Oudh and Burma had been added to it so that it was at that time a larger diocese than before.

Edward Ralph Johnson
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1876 – 1898)

Bishop Milman’s Successor as Metropolitan of India and eighth Bishop of Calcutta was Edward Ralph Johnson, the Archdeacon of Warrington.  It is greatly to be regretted that no memoir has ever been written of his long and faithful Episcopate.  Coming to India when fifty years of age, he gave to the Church a period of over twenty-one years of unremitting toil. Of untiring energy and with an iron constitution, Bishop Johnson traversed through the length

and breadth of his huge Diocese at all seasons of the year, regardless of the climate.

On one occasion, when journeying across the country from Orissa with his Chaplain, he was attacked by dacoits at night.  At the approach of the dacoits the bearers of their palanquins took to their heels and one of the dacoits, approaching the Bishop’s palki, poked a spear inside.  Fortunately for the Bishop, the spear did not find its target and when the dacoits saw an enormous figure arrayed in robes of night emerging from the palki, they promptly took to flight. 

Whoever visited Barisal (now in Bangladesh), the Oxford settlement in Eastern Bengal saw its wonderful atmosphere of “work unservered from tranquility.”  Every day had its full share of work for the Brothers and Sisters.  Standing between their separate spheres of work, schools and carpenter’s shop on the one side, a Widow’s Home, Girl’s Orphanage and Schools on the other side everyone worked in harmony.  It had a beautiful Basilica Church, Cathedral like in its proportions where all met during the day, from time to time, for united worship and intercession.

When Bishop Johnson resigned due to failing health, after more than twenty years of hard workhe was the first Bishop of Calcutta up till then, who had not died in India.

James Edward Cowell Welldon
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1898 – 1901)

Bishop Johnson was succeeded by Rev. James Edward Cowell Welldon as the ninth Bishop of Calcutta

He was the former Headmaster of Harrow – a fine scholar, a brilliant preacher and a leading educationist. It was hoped by many that he would prove a second Bishop Cotton and carry forward Christian education, especially in our Anglo-Indian schools.  Ill health, however dogged him from the beginning and when it became apparent that it was impossible for him to continue his work in India, he consented, with deep reluctance, to resign his See. 

The story of his life belongs to England more than to India.  One diocese in India, that of Nagpur, cannot forget that it owes the completion of its endowment to his private munificence.  He excluded Scottish Chaplains and troops from the use of garrison churches.  He was criticised by Robert Herbet Story.  In addition to ill health, his disagreement with the Viceroy Lord Curzon forced him to resign and return to England.  Thus ended his brief tenure in the Calcutta episcopate. 

Reginald Stephen Copleston
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1902 – 1913)

He was translated and enthroned Bishop of Calcutta on May 14, 1902.  He retired on January 25, 1913 and died at Putney in England on April 19, 1925

Bishop Welldon was duly succeeded by Reginald Stephen Copleston, who had been Bishop of Colombo for a long stint of twenty-seven years.  Consecrated when only thirty years of age, he had done great work in that Island Diocese

and it was an open secret that it was with the deepest reluctance he left it for Calcutta. A great missionary, he was aided in this work by the fact that new languages presented no difficulty to him.  It is said that he had mastered no less than thirteen languages.  In spite of long years of residence in the rather enervating climate of Cylone, he had kept up his scholarship so thoroughly that at the same time when he was offered the post of Metropolitan of India, he was also offered the Headship of his old College at Oxford.

Possibly the genius of Bishop Copleston stood out most clearly when taking part in Councils and Synods.  He had a peculiar gift for directing the thoughts of large assemblies to what was essential and of untangling the Gordian knots in a debate when it seemed almost impossible to see one’s way out of a difficulty. 

In the early days of his Bishopric he had made a special study of Buddhism, in which he was aided by his fine knowledge of the ancient Pali language.  His classical work on the subject is a recognised authority even today.  During his Episcopate the Bishopric of Nagpur and of Dornakal were created.  Even after he retired, he rendered constant service to the Church in India as President of the India Church Aid Association rendering an individual contribution.

George Alfred Lefroy DD
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1913 – 1919)

He was offered the post of Bishop of Chota Nagpur in 1890 but refused it.  He was consecrated Bishop of Lahore in November 1ts, 1899 at the Lahore Cathedral.  Translated and enthroned Bishop of Calcutta on February 19, 1913.  Died on January 1st, 1919 in the close of the Calcutta Cathedral.

He was certainly one of the greatest missionaries our Church has ever had in India.  Had Bishops Cotton and Milman been present when George Lefroy was addressing massive crowds in the Chandni Chowk area at Delhi in perfect Urdu and with an extraordinary grip over his audience, they would have hesitated before they discouraged bazaar preaching.

As head of the Cambridge Mission at Delhi, Lefroy exercised an influence amongst all classes of Indians unlike any before or any after him till date.  So highly was he respected by the Mohommedans, that he was sometimes invited to discuss the truths of our religion within the precincts of their mosques.  At one time it seemed possible that he might have gone to Madras on Bishop’s Frederick Gell’s resignation and that Dr. Whitehand might have succeeded Bishop Henry James Matthew at Lahore.  Fortunately, providence intervened and Lahore kept Lefroy, while Madras took Whitehead, whose gifts were much more suited for South India.

Bishop Lefroy was enthroned as Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan on February 20th, 1913, in the Cathedral.  A few days previously he had received an address at Delhi from Old students of St. Stephen’s College.  Two sentences must be quoted:  “It seems to us quiet in the fitness of things that with the rise of our city to a position of pre-eminence in India, one who in the past deservedly ranked among its most worthy citizens should be called to the headship of the Anglican Church in India.  We pary that God may give you grace to act not only as one of the peacemakers between the various races in this country, but also that

through you the deepest and most wholesome influences of English life may flow into the life of India.”  The Bishop, in reply, said he stood absolutely and unhesitatingly for the policy of higher education in India. On leaving Lahore it had been determined that one of the towers of the Cathedral just being built, should be given the name of “Lefroy”, and that choir stalls should also be a part of the memorial

George Lefroy had now come to the third and last phase of his ministerial life.  He came with a stricken body but with a spirit unconquered, a wonderful example of pluck and all from a sense of Christian devotion.  All the same it is possible to suppose that he might have done an even greater work than he actually accomplished, good as it was, had he been sound in limb.

Foss Westcott DD
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1919 – 1945)

Westcott was the son of a distinguished clergyman, Brooke Ross and was educated at Cheltenham College and Peterhouse, Cambridge.  Ordained in 1887, his first post was as curate of St. Peter’s Church, Wearmouth

Emigrating to India he was a missionary with the SPG before ascending to the episcopate as Bishop of Chota Nagpur in 1905.  Translated to Calcutta in 1919, he served as Metropolitan of India, Burma and Ceylon until 1945.

Long years of quiet and devoted work in the SPG Mission at Cawnpore fitted him to succeed his uncle, Bishop Jabez Cornelius Whitley, as second Bishop of Chota Nagrur.  Thorough and painstaking in all his work, he soon made his mark in that fascinating aboriginal diocese.  When it became known that he was to succeed his friend George Lefroy as Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India, everyone felt satisfied that a wise choice had been made.

He rendered important services to the Church in India throughout his long episcopate and he commanded universal love and respect, but he was now eighty years old.  In 1945 he resigned and retired to spend the last four years of his life at St. Paul’s School Darjeeling.  There he died and was buried in a garden in the school grounds.

George Clay Hubback
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1945 – 1950)

The Most Rev. George C. Hubback, was the thirteenth Bishop of Calcutta and the ninth Metropolitan of India.  He was the youngest among three brothers who came from a very illustrious family and their contribution to the varied professions they chose individually is worth remembering. 

The eldest brother, Brigadier General Binison Hubback, CMG, DSO was an architect in addition to being Brigadier General in the British Army.  He designed the two sister train stations in Kuala Lampur.  He designed many other important buildings in Malaysia.  The second brother, Theodore Rathbone Hubback was a renowned game hunter and conservationist.  He worked with his brother as an engineer in the Malaysian Railways.

Bishop George Clay Hubback, the youngest brother, was a missionary and the last European Metropolitan and Bishop of Assam for a period of twenty one years.  When Hubback became Metropolitan in 1945, one of the first things he decided was that he would have one training centre for clergy (Bengali medium) in his diocese under his own management.  Oxford Mission was asked to take over, for this purpose, the R. A. F. buildings and the adjacent land. He built small houses for the staff and  a large hall for a chapel

Another notable event took place.  The orphanage was moved from Mankar to the southern land of Sister’s Compound.  This was the brainchild of Bishop Hubback.  The orphanage was named Nazareth Home.

Arobundo Nath Mukherjee
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1950 – 1962)

The Most Rev. Arobindo Nath Mukherjee, was the fourteenth Bishop of Calcutta and the tenth Metropolitan of India.  Bishop Mukherjee was the first Indian Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan and his contribution in strengthening and reorganising the life and administration of the Diocese and

the Church of India was very significant indeed in the new dawn of independent India.

He was born in Calcutta in 1882 and was educated in St. Paul’s College and Scottish Church College.  He graduated in 1914 and obtained BT (Batchelor in Theology) in 1917 and was ordained in 1923.

When Bishop Samuel Azariah, Bishop of Dasuakal died in 1945 there was no other Indian diocesan Bishops.  In March 1946, N. K. Biswas was made Bishop of Assam.  On his early death in 1949 he was succeeded by Joseph Amritanand.  When the diocese of Delhi was established in 1947, Arobindo Nath Mukherjee, assistant Bishop of Lahore, became its first Bishop and in 1950 when Bishop Hubback resigned as Metropolitan, Bishop Mukherjee succeeded him as the first Indian Metropolitan. 

Among many things the Bishop did, was the dedication of the church in Oxford Mission to St. Peter.  The Parish was formally inaugurated on 20th June 1945.  St. Peter’s Church then took its place among the Parishes of the Diocese.

H. Lakdasa J. Del Mel
(Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India 1962 – 1970)

In 1945, Lakdasa De Mel was consecrated as Assistant Bishop of Colombo.  After Oxford, Caddesdon and a curacy at St. John the Divine Kennington he served for a notable twenty years as a mission priest in the Baddegama district.  In 1950 he became the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Kurunagala.  He became the Metropolitan of India in 1963.

A tall statured gentleman with a commanding personality and an extremely pleasant demeanour with a down to earth attitude towards people of all categories was the Most Rev. Metropolitan Lakdasa De Mel.  He headed the Church of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burma.  He was a scholarly person who possessed excellent knowledge of diverse religions and was highly appreciated by all of his erudite views as well as his perspective on different aspects of religion.  Young at heart and with a fine sense of humor he was very much loved by the youth with whom he freely interacted.

His contribution and guidance towards the growth of the churches, especially St. Paul’s Cathedral was tremendous.  He was very proud of the Indian Armed Forces.  Bishop Dr. Lakdasa De Mel played a significant role in the Indianisation of liturgy and church paintings.  The last supper painting by the famous painter Jamini Roy was the result of the insight and inspiration of Bishop Lakdasa Del Mel.

Following is one of his letters advising the clergy on their spiritual duties – a very meaningful letter indeed:

15th November 1970
Bishop’s House
51, Chowringhee Road,
Calcutta – 16

Training for the sacred ministry is one of the most important tasks in the Church and this was realised by the first Bishop of Calcutta, Thomas Fanshawe Middleton, who 150 years ago built well and effectively for future generations. 

The students of Bishop’s College have gone forth to proclaim the Gospel, to teach the faith and to minister to the souls for whom our Blessed Lord laid down His life.  Even so must we daily follow the Master bearing our cross.

In the years to come, underlying the confusion in which we are involved, there are fruitful possibilities.  A devout and learned clergy must break the Bread of Life to the hungry multitudes.  God grant that, entering into the labours of others, we may go forth to do our tasks faithfully for the benefit of generations to come.  Let us lift up our souls in prayer and with confidence seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the future.

Lakdasa De Mel.

Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan

Joseph Amritanand
(Bishop of Calcutta, CNI 1970 – 1982)

Bishop Amritanand became the Bishop of Lucknow in 1962.  He was in his mid-forties, tall in stature, dignified and gracious, albeit a bit reserved and uncommunicative.

He came to Calcutta in December 1970, as the first CNI Bishop of Calcutta.  He was an extremely efficient, tailor-made chairman of many schools under the Calcutta Diocese.  Sailing through a long agenda with cryptic, calculated strokes, he was always being ruled by his head, for the best interest of the institution.

He was a man of few words but behind that hard, icy coldness, there was a mellow softness, which surfaced only in his unguarded moments when he revealed his real feelings for people, feelings of a man deeply concerned and affected by the sorrows of those who looked up to him.

Bishop Amritanand was a man who never preached at people, but in his own quiet way revealed to all the courage of his Christian convictions.  A man of prayer, he remained undaunted in the face of unpopularity and criticism.  He will always be remembered for his unflinching belief in the faith he professed and in his calling to serve his Lord and Master.