Who was Mr. Poe?

I am not talking about the famouse Poe. This post is about the English Poe in Madras. Who was Mr. Poe and why should you know about him? Well, Mr. Poe was one of those English Gentlemen (or may be Scottish, my details are very sketchy) who came to the city of Madras to make his fortune. He probably made one too. The tract of land south of Cathedral Road was his, called Mr. Poe’s Garden.

With the march of time, Mr. Poe was forgotten by Madras as it became Chennai. But his estate is still one of the prestigious addresses in Chennai, only now it is called Poes Garden. I first read about this in a comment here in Metblogs. Today, while reading one of my prized links, a notebook maintained by an English Gentleman who was in Madras during 1833, I came across Mr. Poe again.

The notebook has the addresses of the Englishmen in Madras at that time – quaintly called ‘Place of Residence of Gentleman’. You will find Mr. Poe’s Garden, Tanampet (present day Teynampet, must have been the police quarters then, Tana Petta, my guess), Yeldham’s (present day Eldams Road) and many more. Most of the present day Chennai street names were then Gentlemen of Madras. I wonder what is the present name of Dick’s Road.

11 Comments so far

  1. vinodvv (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

    The next time I am road, visiting places, your post will be reminded and would post it in the comment area, if I come across some thing like the one you have mentioned

    “I wonder what is the present name of Dick’s Road.”

    Nicely put

  2. Navneeth (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

    I love such gems of information. Poe’s Garden it is; I’m going to start correcting anyone who says Po-Yes Garden. ;) I’ll remember Yeldham’s road, too.

    I’ve come across something similar in Muthiah’s column in The Hindu: Graeme’s Road -> Greame’s Road. Yet another gentleman.

    Thanks for the info and the link, Chenthil.

  3. david (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

    Brilliant Chenthil! It’s through such posts that the city’s history comes to life! Thanks!

  4. Navneeth (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

    I’ve come across something similar in Muthiah’s column in The Hindu: Graeme’s Road -> Greame’s Road. Yet another gentleman.

    Well, I just read the post by CG from August last year. Okay, it was Græme’s Road -> Greames Road.

    (I actually didn’t mean to put the apostrophe in ‘Greames’ in my first comment)

  5. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 12:17 am

    Nice to know a little more of Mr Poe.

    But I don’t think we’ll achieve the correct pronunciation: at least I can’t persuade my wife that Poe’s rhymes with knows!

    But then I’m not very good at being ‘persuaded’ of the correct pronunciation of Tamil words, so I guess I should not complain ;)

  6. sa-cha (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 12:25 am

    Just curious – why is your name spelt with a c; is it still pronounced ‘sen’thil or it it ‘tchenthil’?

  7. Velllaiyan (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    Ada Pongappa – Poe’s-a irundhaa enna?PoYes-a irundha enna? Idhukku oru fundamentalist insistence on correct pronounciation en?En?Enn?
    Evan avan Graeme – indha English gentlemen-ai ellaam namma innum gnabagam vechukalainu yaar azhudhaa. Peru kidakku kazhudhai. Eppadi popular-aagudho appadiye irundhuttu pogattume – hamilton enga vaaykullara nozhaiyala – adhanaala ambattan aakkiputtom. Idhanaala yaarukku enna nashtam – andha hamilton dorai enna mahatma gandhi-aa , yugg yugama avana ninaivu cehcukalenna appadiye ulagam irunduduma? Let things take their own course. Makkal eppadi twist pandraangalo appadi irundhuttu pogudhu.

  8. Velllaiyan (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    Innum solla pona, mahatma gandhiye makkal marandhu pona pogattum. Forcible-aa en namma avarai pathi preach pannanum? MG Road-nu solranga style-aa. Irundhuttu pogattume. Avanga Mahatma Gandhi roadnu sonna dhaan nattula panjam patni ellaam theerndhuduma? Why such obsession over mere passing stuff. Idhellam sagajam dhaane. Cheppu-ngaradhu thooya tamil vaarthai. Adhai Namma marandhuttom. Aanal telugu-la use pannaranga. Idhellam kaala pokkula nadakkaradhu – adhukkaga namma cheppu-vai tamil-le marubadi kondu vandha dhaan aachunu solvoma?
    Adhe madhiri dhaan – oru pokatha english gentleman peru irundhudhu. Adhu enga vvayila eppadi varuhdo appadi solvom. Naalaikku chevalier Sivaji Ganesan road-ngaradhai seval kannu road-nu aakinalaum aakuvanga. Who will remember Sivaji 100 years from now? Idhukku poyi alatikkalama?

  9. Velllaiyan (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    checnthil, my comments are not addressed at you. Because you are just recounting history – not indulging in “Ah! I am able to pronounce correctly – look at these idiotic natives – cant pronounce or recognise an apostophe” as some others have done.

  10. Chenthil (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

    Thanks Vinod.

    Navneeth, we can’t change the way people pronounce the names. It is interesting to know the earlier names, and their etymology(if I can stretch the meaning)

    Thanks David.

    Thad, learn to live with Poyes.

    Sa-cha, check here

    Vellaiyan, relax. Nothing to fret about. I like that Sevala Kannu for chevalier.

  11. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

    I do, literally, live with it, as that is how my wife says it.

    There are, of course, much more important things in life, especially as we can barely afford to even pass near the area!

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