Thursday 16 April 2015

Mrs Martha Mault, The Mother of Female education and liberation in South India[1794-1870]

Introduction: No doubt the educational, intellectual, political and social history of Kanyakumari District had been  emotionally and historically connected with some great English men  and women  who came and lived in Kanyakumari district.,to a great extent.  Rev. Charles Mault  and his beloved wife Mrs Martha Mault were two of the outstanding English citizens, who came and lived in Kanyakumari district. Mrs Martha Charles Mault  had done great, outstanding and  indelible service to the cause of education, female education, social justice , and women's liberation in South Travancore [Kanyakumari Dist]. during the early part of the 19th century. 

Birth and place of Birth  Of Mrs. Martha Mault :Ms. Martha nee Mead [ this was her full name , and she was not related ev, Charles Mead] was born in St. Neots  in Huntingdonshire , England in 1794.  St, Neots is a beautiful town in the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire , within the historic county of Huntingdonshire , in England ,and also it was the birthplace of the outstanding  Oliver Cromwell of England. 

Mrs Martha Mault was a direct Descendant the famous Oliver Cromwell :    It is pertinent  to say something about the famous  Oliver Cromwell of England , here, to understand the crucial significance of the family background of Mrs. Martha Mault.  . Mr Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdonshire in England on 25th April, 1599 and died on 3rd September, 1658.  Oliver Cromwell is considered as the father of British Democracy and deemed as one of the most controversial and powerful figures  in British history. Mr. Oliver Cromwell was made the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of Britain,  under the terms of the instrument of Government of  Britain and in that capacity he ruled England, Ireland and Scotland.  According to the BBC opinion poll conducted in 2002  , Oliver Cromwell was selected as one of the most famous 10 British men ever lived. Mrs Martha was reputed to be descendant of one of the four daughters of Oliver Cromwel

Mrs . Martha's marriage with Rev Charles Mault and  their travel to India: In the year 1818,  at the age of 24,  the charming Martha  married Rev .Charles Mault of Shropshire . Charles Mault had been trained for Priesthood at the Missionary Academy, Gosport  near Portsmouth, England under the auspices of the London Missionary Society and also had been ordained as a LMS Pastor, before a week of  their marriage . The review of the East India Company's Charter of 1813 had fully opened the closed door for missionary work India .After their happy marriage,as decided before Mrs, Mault along with her missionary husband Rev, Charles Mault, sailed towards the shore of India for missionary work in South Travancore , India

Mrs Martha Mault's family Life and Children : Mrs Martha and Rev. Charles Mault reached Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district  [South Travancore ] in December , 1819. Mrs. Martha Mault  with great tolerance and missionary magnanimity and mentality adjusted herself to the  new Indian climate and temperature and started to like the flora , fauna and the people of South Travancore and India  with great missionary zeal and motherly love. Mrs Martha Mault and Rev. Charles Mault were blessed with three smart  sons and two lovely daughters. Out of the three sons, two became qualified Medical Doctors in England and third son became a talented Artist. Mr and Mrs. Mault's younger daughter Sarah Mault,  married J.O.Whitehouse in 1849, and the eldest daughter Eliza Mault married the famous Missionary, Linguist , Tamil Scholar, Writer, Historian and Bishop Dr. Robert. Caldwell. in 1844, at the Home Church, Nagercoil.

Mrs Mault and women's education and women's liberation : Mrs. Matha Mault  was really a remarkable missionary lady with the unquenchable spark of service to the cause of female education and female liberation. As wise and shrewd lady she understood the pathetic plight of female population in south Travancore and  aptly decided to empower and strengthen the  long neglected women by  giving education ,training and courage. So with the financial help from her friends from England , Mrs Martha Mault established the first Girls' Boarding School at Nagercoil in 1820, that was the first Girl's Boarding School in the whole of South India. [ This  Girls School progressed stage by stage and now it is called as the Duthie Girls Higher Secondary School, Nagercoil ]. Out of the Girls admitted in the Girls' Boarding School  many were poor, orphan and slave girls. Mrs Mault  took great pity and sympathy towards the long  neglected poor girls of  South Travancore. In  her Girls' Boarding School the teachers mainly taught Reading and Writing plus some basic Arithmetic  and Geography . Mrs Mault   firmly believed, Education will empower and equip women  to fight for their own emancipation, enlightenment and liberation in course of time. Yes in course of time, education has liberated the women of South Trvancore.

Mrs. Martha Extended female education to other parts of Kanyakumaari district [South Travancore}: Mrs Martha Mault was a real  born educationist . Female education and their welfare and liberation were her primary concern.  She not only taught the lace making to the students of Girls Boarding at Nagercoil , but also to other interested  and needy women of the District. So even during her active service period , lace making had become a major cottage industry in South Travancore and improved the financial status of hundreds of poor women of the District.   More over with help of her husband Rev. Charles Mault, Mrs Martha Mault  established  26 Village Schools for Girls in  Kanyakumari District for the cause of spreading education both among the Christian women and non-Christian women of the District.  As her daughters  Eliza Mault and Sarah Maul were very good in local colloquial Tamil , she used their services also for the cause of female education in South Travancore[Kanyakumari district].

Mrs Matha Mault empowered and equipped the Girls to make money through lace making:  Mrs Mault understood the deplorable dependence of  the girls on the male members of the family and society.So she decided to give financial  independence to the girls. So she decided  teach lace making technique to the the poor girls at appropriate time in the School with the help of the equipment and the special thread needed for lace making that she brought from her motherland England for lace making .She selected poor and slave girls and taught them lace making and equipped them to make money by making lace. Many slave girls used their saving made through lace making to purchase their liberty . Hundreds of slave girls liberated themselves by making enough money through lace making. Later through education, such liberated girls attained good positions and status in life and  the credit should go to Mrs.Martha Mault.  More over when the girls started to earn money through their lace making skill, the family and society started to respect those girls. 

Mrs. Mault returned to England: Rev Charles Mault and Mrs Martha Mault had been working in Kanyakumari district [the erstwhile South Travancore ] nearly for 35 long years. After these 35 fruitful years Rev  Charles Mault  retired from the LMS Missionary service and  Mrs. Martha Mault also retired from South Travancore LMS Missionary Service and went back to their home country, England  and settled in Stoke, Coventry, England.. Rev . Charles Mault, died in England in 1858 and Mrs. Martha Mault died in London in 1870.  Mrs , Martha  will be remembered in the Indian history as one of the Pioneers for the causes of female education ,liberation ,dignity and equality.. She was born great and achieved greatness.. Mrs Martha was really a remarkable milestone in Female Educational history of Kanyakumari district and India.  I salute her for her remarkable and relentless service for the cause of Female Education and Liberation  and stop my ink flow here.
BY. P. BABU MANOHARAN..{Rights reserved] {This article will be changed, altered and modified later if needed. Comments are welcome].