Papers of Ernest Forrester Paton

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains: papers concerning the arrest of Forrester Paton in 1932; pamphlets, articles and printed items; correspondence to family members; and photographs and pictures.

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 United Free Church, 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.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers. It is essential to arrange an appointment in advance to view the archive in order that someone can be available to help. Please contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited at the Centre by Forrester Paton's nephew and niece, Colin Forrester Paton and Isabel Lusk in 1996.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue listing items in the collection is available at the Centre.

Archivist's Note

Description originally written and researched by Caroline Brown in June 2001. This had been added to Archives Hub in August 2012 by Louise Williams.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of materials (for example by digital camera) is free for private research and educational use, although we ask researchers to sign an agreement. Please contact us for enquiries on using the material in a commercial setting, for which there will be a fee. Contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Accruals

No further additions to the collection are expected.

Subjects