George Uglow POPE (1820–1908)
His second wife Mrs Henrietta Page POPE, née Van Someren (1830–1911)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 4a, Grave C58½

Pope grave

BORN 24 APRIL 1820, DIED 11 FEB. 1908.

[Other side]

See also the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for George Uglow Pope,
Christian missionary who translated many Tamil texts into English

Statue of Pope
Statue of G. U. Pope in Chennai

George Uglow Pope was born at Bedeque, Prince Edward Island on 24 April 1820 to John Pope and Catherine Uglow, the daughter of George and Mary Uglow, and was baptised there on 2 July that year. His parents had been living at Turnchapel near Plymstock in Devon, but George’s father had gone to Prince Edward Island to trade,

George's next brother Willilam Burt Pope was also born there, but their father then gave up trading to become a missionary in Nova Scotia, Canada where his next two brothers were born: William Burt Pope (1822) and John Pawley Pope (1823).

The family then went to St Vincent's in the West Indies, where his two eldest sisters were born: Mary Couch Pope (1825) and Catherine Uglow Pope (1827).

The family returned to England in 1826, and George’s father became a prosperous merchant and shipowner in Plymouth, where George's last five siblings were born: Richard Vercoe Pope (1829), Henry Pope (1833), Elizabeth Cundy Pope (1835), Alice Jane Pope (1836, died 1837), and a second Alice Jane Pope (1838)

George was taught at Wesleyan boarding schools. In 1839 he sailed for Madras to become a missionary, teaching himself Tamil on the voyage. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1841.

The 1841 census shows George’s parents living at Gibbon’s Street, Plymouth. His father John (50), described as a shipowner, was living with his wife Catherine (43) and his children John (17), Catherine (13), Richard (12), Henry (8), Elizabeth (6), and Alice (2), plus one female servant.

On 1 January 1842 in India, George Uglow Pope married his first wife, Mary Anderson Carver, who was the daughter daughter of an Anglican priest.

Pope joined the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), which sent him to Tinnevelly in Tamil Nadu, south India. Pope’s first wife Mary Pope died at Tuticorin, also in Tamil Nadu, in 1845, the year he was ordained.

In 1849 Pope returned to Madras, where in the same year he married his second wife, Henrietta Page Van Someren (born in Madras on 14 December 1830). They had thirteen children (of whom four were dead by 1911).

Pope and his second wife came back to England for about two years, staying in Oxford, but appear to have returned to India before the 1851 census.

In 1859 Pope founded a grammar school for European children at Ootacamund in Tamil Nadu, and served as its headmaster. In 1870 he moved on to become Principal of Bishop Cotton’s School (and college) in Bangalore.

In 1881 Pope left India for good and settled in Oxford. He was one of the greatest European scholars on Tamil, and was appointed Chaplain and Fellow of Balliol College in 1888.

At the time of the 1891 census, George Uglow Pope (70) was boarding at 28 New Inn Hall Street, while his wife Henrietta (60) was paying an overnight visit at the home of the Revd Ralph Brockman and his wife Anna at Dale Villas, Cowley Road.

In the early 1900s the couple settled at 26 Walton Well Road, which was in Ss Philip & James’s parish.

Pope died in 1908. He was presumably buried in the St Mary Magdalen area of the cemetery rather than the St Giles (Ss Philip & James) section because he was a Fellow of Balliol College):

† George Uglow Pope died at 26 Walton Well Road, Oxford at the age of 87 on 11 February 1908 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 15 February (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

The following report on Pope’s funeral appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 22 February 1908:


The funeral of Dr. George U. Pope took place in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on Saturday afternoon. The first portion of the Burial Service was held in Balliol College chapel. The cortege, which left the deceased’s residence at 26, Walton Well-road about two o’clock, was met at the college entrance in Broad-street by the Rev. E. J. Palmer and the Rev. H. M. Gibbon. During the recital by the latter of the opening passages of the services, the coffin, enveloped in a violet pall, was carried into the chapel, followed by the mourners, who were Mrs. Pope, Miss Pope, Miss Ethel Pope, Mrs. J. Pope, Mrs. S. B. Pope, Mrs. Wolff, Mr. J. Pope (I.C.S. retired), Lieut.-Colonel T. H. Pope, M.D. (I.M.S retired), Dr. and Mrs. George Stevens Pope, Mr. S. B. Pope, Mr. C. Waters, Mr. Sydney Boyd, Colonel Owen, Mr. A. Vansomeren, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Puddicombe, Mr. R. R. Pope (I.C.S. retired), Mr. Wolff, Mr. Forbes (late Fellow of Wadham College, Rev. E. Drake-Brockman, Lieut. Gerald Drake-Brockman, I.A., Rev. H. Bate and Mr. Spencer Chapman.

Those present in the chapel included the Principal of Brasenose (pro vice Chancellor), the Master of Balliol, Mr. W. D. Ross (Oriel, pro senior proctor), Mr. R. Marett (pro junior proctor), Dr. Murray, the Rev. Canon S. R. Driver, Colonel Rankin, Colonel Owen, Dr. W. V. Holly, Dr. E. Homes Dudden, Dr. H. Krebs, the Rev. C. A. Marcon, the Rev. W. Scott, the Rev. A. J. Carlyle, the Rev. V. S. S. Coles, Mr. A. L. Smith, Dr. E. J. Trevelyan, Father Waggett, Father Congreve, Father Hodge, S.S.J.E., Mr. A. W. Beaucoup, Mr. J. A. Smith, Mr. H. B. Hartley, Mr. H. W. Davies, Mr. C. Bailey, Mr. A. D. Lindsay, Mr. Urquhart, r. H. H. Pritchard, Mr. W. D. Ross and Mr. S. Boyd. The Rev. H. M. Gibbon read the Psalm, and the Rev. E. J. Palmer the lesson. The hymns sung were “O God, our help in ages past” and “For all the saints who from their labours rest.”

The service at the cemetery was conducted by the Rev. Canon Clayton. The coffin, of polished elm with plain brass fittings, bore the simple inscription –

Born, April 24th, 1820,
Died February 11th, 1908.

The wreaths and other floral tributes from the family were lowered into the grave with the coffin. In addition there were the following:– “In loving remembrance of our dear father,” Mr. and Mrs. Charles Waters; “From the Master and Fellows”; “With deep affection and regret,” Dr. and Mrs. E. Baird; “With every loving remembrance,” Mr. and Mrs James H. T. Chowne; “With deepest sympathy,” Mrs. Govett and Miss Govett; “With deepest sympathy,” Mr. and Mrs. Walter Young and Miss Young; “Respect and affection,” John Pawley Bate and Mary and Betty; “With sincere sympathy,” Miss Worville and Miss H. H. Worville; “With sincere sympathy,” Mr. and Mrs. J. Spencer Chapman; “With Mr Wichremasinghe’s sincere condolences.”

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs Elliston and Cavell.

Pope’s wealth at death was £1,759 2s. 1d. Friends and former students in India, including many Hindus, subscribed to the monument for his grave.

His widow Henrietta moved to London, and the 1911 census shows her living at 110 Perry Rise, Forest Hill with her unmarried daughter Annie Wilberforce Pope (59, born in Tanjore); they had no servants.

Mrs Pope died at Forest Hill later that year, and her body was brought to Oxford for burial with her husband:

† Mrs Henrietta Page Pope née Van Someren died at 110 Perry Rise at the age of 82 on 19 September 1911 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 22 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Obituary: DR. G. U. POPE
(The Times, 12 February 1908)

We regret to announce the death, at the advanced age of 87, of the Rev. Dr. George Uglow Pope, which occurred at Oxford yesterday.

Dr. Pope, who was one of the most learned authorities of the Tamil language of his time, was a remarkable man — one of those Englishmen who have devoted themselves to missionary work and who, while thus engaged, have done all that lay in their power to add to our knowledge of the people among whom their life was spent, and to present to those people the best side of the English character. Born on April 24, 1820, the son of John Pope, a merchant and shipowner of Plymouth, George Uglow Pope was educated at Bury and Hoxton. He went out to India in 1839, and took priest’s orders at Madras in 1845. After 42 years of missionary and educational labour in different parts of Southern India, he returned to England in 1881, and in 1883 became Oxford diocesan secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and was University Lecturer in Tamil and Telagu at Oxford from 1884 to 1896. The Archbishop of Canterbury had already conferred upon him the degree of D.D. as far back as 1861.

Dr. Pope’s life-work, as was explained by Mr. R. W. Frazer at the meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1906, when he received the gold medal conferred every three years by that society for distinguished Oxford scholarship, has been to unravel the long-lost history of the life and thought of Southern India, of a race now to be found, in the words of the Dravidian scholar Caldwell, “wherever money is to be made, wherever an apathetic people is willing to be pushed aside, there they swarm, these Tamils, the Greeks or Scotch of the East.” At an advanced age he published translations of some of the most important works in classical Tamil, the language in which the ancient Tamil records are preserved, and which is quite unintelligible to the ordinary Tamil student of the vernacular. The result of these labours had been to place Tamil scholars in a position to undertake a thorough scientific investigation of the historical foundation of South Indian beliefs. In Mr. Frazer’s words:— “He has traced for us in that literature the early advent of the Aryan learning into South India, and the literary influence of the Jains and Buddhists; then the story of the vehement disputes between the Jains, Buddhists, and Tamil teachers is told in his recent translation of the Mânikka Vâçagar, until the revival of the ancient worship of the personal God Siva, leading to the building of the great temples of South India from about the 10th century, and the final disappearance of Buddhism and Jainism from the land. The teachings of the Sankara Acârya, the Karma Yoga of Patanjali with a theistic Sânkya, all were united and formed an eclectic school of philosophy for South India known as the Saiva Siddhânta, which deals of the nature of a personal god, the soul, and its bonds or Maya, which separate it from mystic union with the soul of all things. Of this the Saiva Siddhânta philosophy, as set forth in the long poems of the 14 Santâna Gurus or Succession of Teachers, Dr. Pope is now almost the sole European exponent.” (Mr. R. W. Frazer at the Royal Asiatic Society, June 19, 1906.) Speaking on the same occasion, Mr. John Morley paid an eloquent tribute not only to Dr. Pope’s industry and achievements as a scholar, but also to the sympathy with which he had cultivated intercourse with the backward peoples, as we are apt to call them, among whom his lot was cast.

Dr. Pope’s works include “First Lessons in Tamil” (fifth edition, 1891); "A Handbook of the Ordinary Dialect of the Tamil Language,” in five volumes, a work which ran into seven editions, the last being published in 1904-6; “A Tamil Poetical Anthology," with grammatical notes and a vocabulary (1859); “A Text-book of Indian History” (third edition, 1880); and “The Tiruvâcagam, or ‘Sacred Utterances’ of Mânikka Vâçagar,” with English translation, introductions, and notes, and with Tamil lexicon and concordance (1900).

Some of G. U. Pope’s children
  • John Van Someren Pope (born 3 January 1850) was director of public instruction in Burma for seventeen years, and married Selina Helen Simpson. He died in London on 10 November 1932.
  • Arthur William Uglow Pope (born c.1858) was a railway engineer and manager in India and China. He married Ann Catherine Becher in 1886 in Bengal. Hie died on 15 December 1927 at Devizes, Wiltshire.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Henry Pope, I.M.S. was a professor of ophthalmology at Madras Medical College.

For more on the family history, see the Pope page of the Island Register (Prince Edward Island genealogy)



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