Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Jan 06, 2003

About Us
Contact Us
Metro Plus Chennai Published on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Thiruvananthapuram    Visakhapatnam   

Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend

Snared in the Net

RECENT REFERENCES I've made in this column and Madrascapes to John Goldingham, the astronomer who went on to head the Madras Survey School that grew into Guindy Engineering College and then Anna University, snared in the net a couple of weeks ago a descendant of John Goldingham who had often been described as a Dane. Ian Goldingham doesn't quite clear up the mystery of his ancestor's Danish origins, but informs me that John Goldingham was baptised in London. In a long note sent to me for my files, John Goldingham is mentioned in connection with designing and building the new Observatory in 1792/3, the famous `Star Catalogues' (1793-1812 and 1825), and being appointed Presidency Civil Engineer in March 1800. John Goldingham, whose only training was in mathematics, picked up both astronomy and engineering not only on the job but simultaneously as well. Two things that Ian Goldingham goes on to add are what enrich my files.

One is that John Goldingham married Louisa Maria Popham, daughter of Stephen Popham, in St. Mary's in the Fort in 1796. Popham, after whom Broadway in the New Black Town was named, certainly did much towards providing old Madras a host of civic amenities. But of him it was also said that there was nothing he did that did not have something in it for him. His wisdom, it would appear, he passed on to his son-in-law, to judge by the second tidbit. For designing and building Banquetting Hall (Rajaji Hall today), John Goldingham was allowed 15 per cent commission on all bills, "on the certificate of your honour that you will derive no other advantage". This appeared to be virtually a licence to print money! When the Board of Directors found that he had drawn 22,500 pagodas as commission on the 180,000 spent on the work till September 1801, they withdrew his designation and powers but let him continue the work under a newly-appointed Chief Engineer. Lord Clive (the Second), who had appointed him, had a lot of explaining to do till 1805. As for John Goldingham, once the work was completed he was reverted to the Observatory and the Government Press and ordered, "not to interfere with the Engineering Department in any manner whatever". Nevertheless, when he finally returned to England, he returned a `nabob'!

And Reader N. Dharmeshwaran, referring to that controversy over a letter in the alphabet (Miscellany, November 11, and earlier) says the `f' is really only an elongated `s' with a stroke through it to clearly differentiate it as `s', much in the same way many put a stroke through `7' to make it distinct from `1' (one).

S. MUTTHIAH

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Thiruvananthapuram    Visakhapatnam   

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2003, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu