Adeline and James in Calcutta

THE CHURCH OF ST JOHN in central Kolkata was built by the British East India Company in the 18th century. Its foundation Stone was laid by Warren Hastings in 1784. We had visited it today, the 13th of January 2023, mainly to see the magnificent painting of the Last Supper by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810). We also spent time looking at the memorials that line the walls of the church. Suddenly, my wife pointed at one of them, which is of great interest to me at the moment. It commemorates James Pattle, who died in 1845 aged 68, an his wife Adeline, who died the same year aged 52. Whereas James is buried in London, Adeline was lost at sea.

My interest in this couple is related to a book I am writing about one of their daughters, who became one of the most famous British photographers during the 19th century. You will learn more about her after I publish my book.

James was born in Calcutta, as the city was named in his time. He was educated in England, and returned to Calcutta, where he became a High Court Judge. Adeline was born in French Pondicherry. Her maiden name was De l’Etang. Her father was a French nobleman who has fled from France to French India after the Revolution. He had been in charge of the French Royal stables and became important in the welfare of the East India Company ‘s horses in Calcutta . Her mother Therese had some Indian ancestry. James and Adeline married in 1811 at Bhagulpur in India. They had 10 surviving children.

⁸After James died in his home on Chowringee, he was placed in a barrel of preservative spirits so that, according to his wishes, he coukd be buried in London beside his mother in Marylebone Parish Church. Adeline travelled from Calcutta to London on the same ship as her husband’s corpse. Adeline died at sea according to the memorial in St John’s, but this might be incorrect. In any case, Adeline died a few months after James.

James’s remains did reach England, but they are interred at St Giles Church in London’s Camberwell. It is in this church, not the one in Marylebone, where his mother was buried.

The memorial in St John’s Church must have been placed because his fellow British citizens held him in high regard. The memorial was also a token of love given by their sorrowful childrenAs for his famous daughter, I will leave you in suspense!