EMMA TRYPHENA CLINT 1846 – 1857. CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF THE MAHARAJA OF THE PRINCELY STATE OF KOCH BIHAR -BENGAL

In October 1857 the Welshman Newspaper reported the death of an 11 year old girl living in Carmarthen – Emma Tryphena Clint. Her story is all the more remarkable when you consider the fact that she was also a childhood friend of an Indian Maharaja. Emma was born on the 1st October 1846 at a large palatial mansion, then called CONSTANTIA in Lucknow which became known as Le Martiniere College for boys.

The magnificent Le Martiniere building in Lucknow. Birthplace of Emma Tryphena Clint in 1846

In 1857 – the boys at the college under the leadership of George Schilling (who took over from Leonidas Clint 3 years previously) were to take part in the defence of Lucknow following an uprising. These events of 1857 saw the making of a military legend. For the first time in history, Britain called on schoolboys to assist in the military conflict – namely the defence of the Lucknow Residency, and to put up the fight of their lives against the terrible suffering, torture and death that befell anyone caught. However it was not until 1932, following a request by the College, that the British Government finally recognised Martinière’s role in 1857. The school was granted the right, on ceremonial occasions, to carry a British Army regimental-style ‘colour’ or flag bearing its own coat of arms with a picture of the Residency and the words “Defence of Lucknow, 1857”. It thus became the only school in the world to be awarded a British battle honour.

George Schilling, Principal of Le Martiniere, whom Leonidas Clint appointed as his successor and whose bravery in 1857 earned him a place in history.

Eighteen days after Emma’s birth on the appointment to another teaching post in Calcutta they travelled over 500 miles , she was baptised in Chinsurah, not far from Calcutta.  Emma’s father, being a highly qualified academic was first appointed as head (Principal) of Le Martiniere College in 1845 and served there for nine years before his promotion to Principal of Krishnanagar College in Bengal and so began a remarkable journey that was to end in tragedy.

Krishnanagar College in Calcutta where Emma met the young Maharaja when her father was Principal

Her father Leonidas had served in India for over twenty years as a brilliant academic  and just prior to the Indian Mutiny in 1857 returned to Britain and to Carmarthen  where they lived in Lammas Street to begin his final chapter of entering the priesthood and holy orders.

Emma’s father – Leonidas Clint, also became a founding member of the University of Calcutta in January 1857 with responsibility for English & the Arts and whilst Principal at Krishnanagar College in West Bengal prior to his appointment in Calcutta he was attracted by one his pupils –Srila Sachchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and his mastery of the English language and literature. The future nineteenth century pioneer of Krishna consciousness was born in 1838 in Bengal. He worked tirelessly to preserve the spiritual tradition and literature of India; he composed, edited, and published more than 100 books in Sanskrit, Bengali, and English. Towards the end of 1856, he published an English poem, “The Poriade”, which was a poem in classical English about the wanderings of Porus (Puru), who fought Alexander the Great in the pre-Christian era, which was well-received in educated circles in Calcutta. All Thakur’s English poems were published in the paper, Library (Literary) Gazette & he delivered a lecture to the British Indian Society in 1856 on the evolution of matter which was much applauded.

Emma’s father Leonidas can therefore claim some credit for what his young pupil was to achieve in later life, but sadly not for his own daughter who died at the age of 11 years old on the 25th September 1857 in Carmarthen Wales, from consumption most likely contracted by her stay in the hot climate of India. She lies buried in an unmarked grave in St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen.

In 1845 aged 4 years old, Narendra Narayan was adopted by his uncle (the Maharaja of Koch Bihar, Shivenra Narayan) when his own son died at an early age. Later, upon death of his uncle on 23 August 1847, Narendra was installed to the throne of Koch Bihar at the tender age of six but was only granted full ruling powers in 1860. He was the first ruler of Koch Bihar to have English education under the pupilage of Leonidas Clint and also founded Jenkins School in Koch Bihar in 1861, which today remains one of the oldest boys’ schools in India.

The Maharaja also became a great childhood friend of Emma Tryphena Clint at the College where he was being taught in Bengal. The Maharaja was 13 years old and Emma was nine when they first met in 1855.  The Maharaja had two sons, one of which – Nripendra Narayan succeeded his father in 1863 and whose photograph is reproduced by kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery. Who knows what might have happened if the childhood friendship had lasted longer, but sadly that was not to be. The Indian climate was certainly not one for young European children, and inevitably illness and disease became prevalent. For Emma, her life had ended all too soon, but for her childhood friend, untold riches beckoned and a place in Indian folklore. Shortly after Emma’s’ death in 1857 her father Leonidas became a vicar in St David’s Pembrokeshire and served in other dioceses across the UK until his death in Dewsbury Yorkshire in 1897 aged 85, a life well lived. However, he was to be buried in a  Herefordshire, in a parish that he had served for twenty years – Linden, where his mortal remains now lie, together with that of his devoted wife Mary.

Nripendra Narayan, MAHARAJA OF Kuch Behar wearing the diamond ruby and emerald headdress as was the custom (Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery)
The gravestone of the Reverend Leonidas Clint at St Michael and All Angels Church in Linden Herefordshire. By kind permission of Christine Moore