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COBBITTY N.S.W. to LAWRENCE ASYLUM, OOTACAMUND, MADRAS, INDIA

This unusual destination cover was addressed to Miss F. Albert, Lawrence Asylum, Ootacamund, Madras, S. India and its pair of mauve 6d and a single dull red 1d N.S.W. stamps were postmarked with two examples of the rays ‘535' of Cobbitty, N.S.W. There were two manuscripts per R.M.S Ellora to Melbourne and, R.M.S Nubia to Galle (Ceylon) (Figure 1).

The point of origin postmark was COBBITTY/ MR 21/ 1874 (Type 1A, previous ERD* 1898) and the transit postmark was NARELLAN/ MR ( )/ 1874 (Type 1A, previous LRD* 1873), as well as a SYDNEY/ MR 23/ 74 (Sydney, described as such by vendor, but illegible) were the only Australian postmarks. There were two different Madras postmarks, a single circle: 2. DELY:/ MADRAS/ APR: 18. and an octagonal MADRAS/ APR: 18, as well as a double circle AP 19/ OOTACAMUND/ 2ND DY. There were several manuscripts: Recd Apr 20th 1874, Ansd Apr 28th 1874; (Abt Power of Administration to Mr Paice); and, Adverticement (sic) for the McNeals (Figure 2).

The knowledgeable vendor gave the following explanation: Another outstanding example of the "Galle Penny" retaliatory rate, especially specifying the routing via Melbourne. Victoria had persuaded P&O to terminate their services at Melbourne. NSW responded by promoting a Trans-Pacific service and imposed an extra 1d on mail to Melbourne to connect with P&O. This was in force only between 10/2/1874 & 27/5/75.

Early in the year of 1856, Major General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence first projected the idea of founding a School at some hill stations in the Madras Presidency for the children of the serving soldiers and ex-soldiers of the British Army in India so that they could have the benefit of a sound education. Thus the Lawrence Asylum was founded on the 6th September 1858, fourteen months after the death of its far-seeing founder.

The Lawrence School, Lovedale, near Ootacamund came about, and four schools initially known as the Lawrence Asylum, were established in different parts of India at Sanawar, Mount Abu, Ootacamund and Ghora Gali. According to one source, the first two named sites opened before Lawrence’s death in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the one in Ootacamund was the third to be formed in 1858.

The schools went through name changes over the years: Lawrence Memorial School 1913; the Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School in 1925; and after India’s Independence, the Schools were handed over to civilian authorities of the Government of India in 1949, and the name changed to the Lawrence School. At the same time entitled children were eliminated, and the school gradually became an independent institution open to all on a fee-paying basis. The Lawrence School, Lovedale has a sprawling campus of 750 acres (3 km2), six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Ootacamund, located at a height of 7200 feet above sea level.

Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence (b. June 28, 1806 - d. July 4, 1857) was a British soldier and statesman in India, who died defending Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny. Henry Lawrence Island in the Indian Ocean (12N 93E) and the town of Lawrence in New Zealand are both named after him. A drawing of him is shown in Figure 3.

 

*ERD & LRD: early & late recorded dates.


 
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