Papers of Ernest Forrester-Paton (1891-1970)

Reference: GB 0237 EU CSCNWW 25
Title: Papers of Ernest Forrester-Paton (1891-1970)
Dates of creation: [ca. 1915]-1992
Held at: Edinburgh University, Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (Thomas Chalmers House, 16 North Bank Street)
Extent: 1 box
Name of Creator: Paton, Ernest Forrester
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: eng hin


Administrative/Biographical History

Ernest Forrester Paton, also known as Chinnannan, missionary in South India, was born in July 1891 at Alloa in Scotland. His father was a wealthy mill owner but the family were strongly religious and his aunt, Catherine Forrester Paton, founded a women's missionary training college in Glasgow. After early schooling in Alloa he went to Ley's School, Cambridge, then in 1910 to King's College in Cambridge where he was an active member of the Student Christian Movement and where he decided to become a missionary. In 1915 as a final year medical student in London Forrester Paton met Dr S. Jesudason who was working in the London Medical Mission Hospital and who persuaded him to go to India. The two were sent by the United Free Church to Poona but soon found that they could not reconcile themselves to working with a mission. They disliked in particular what they saw as the mission's attitude to the leadership of Indians and left the UFC, spending some time back in the UK before returning to India in 1920. After consultation with Indian leaders they established the Christukula Ashram (Family of Christ Ashram) at Tirupattur, North Arcot, South India, in 1921. Affiliated to the National Missionary Society, this was one of the first Protestant ashrams and it aimed to promote equality between Europeans and Indians and to give an Indian presentation of Christian life and worship. Forrester Paton worked there for nearly fifty years. He dedicated his life to India and completely identified with its people adopting the national dress and way of living. In 1932 during the Civil Disobedience Campaign he was arrested and beaten by police in Madras who accused him of picketing. The case gained much attention in India and in Britain and questions were raised in Parliament. Forrester Paton lived a simple life, he gave all his money to the building up of the Ashram and its hospitals and schools. He died on 2 May 1970 after a fall at Kotagiri where he had been during Tirupattur's hot season.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of papers, reports and other material relating to the arrest of Forrester Paton in 1932; pamphlets, articles and printed items about Forrester Paton, Jesudason and the Ashram (1920s-1980s); letters to Forrester Paton's family before and after his death (1969-1992); and photographs of Forrester Paton, Jesudason and the Ashram (from c 1915).

System of Arrangement

The material is arranged as described in scope and content.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Much of the material was originally been collected by Forrester Paton's brother Alexander and son Alastair.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was given to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World by Ernest Forrester Paton's nephew and niece Colin Forrester-Paton and Isabel Lusk in 1996.

Accruals

None expected.

Access Conditions

Contact the repository for details.

Copyright/Reproduction

Contact the repository for details.

Note

The biographical history was compiled using items in the collection, in particular obituaries and pamphlets and Reminiscences of A Pilgrim of Life Dr S. Jesudason (Madras: The Chandler Printing Press, 1940)

Further Information

Finding Aids

A handlist compiled in 2001 and more detailed lists from the family are available.

Related Units of Description

Records may exist at the Christukula Ashram, the Biography of Dr Ernest Forrester Paton, for example, mentions some of Forrester-Paton's memoirs. The National Library of Scotland holds the archives of the foreign missions of the Church of Scotland including correspondence with Forrester Paton. The Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World also holds the papers of the nephew of Ernest Forrester Paton, Colin Forrester-Paton and his wife Jean.