The Dutch Cemetery in Chinsurah: A Digital Archive of Memories

R.W.Hessing

Last Name: 
Hessing
First Name: 
R.W
Spatial: 
year of death: 
1806
date of death: 
27.07.1806
Nationality: 
Dutch
Age at death: 
3 years, 8 months, 21 days.
Gender: 
Male
Relationships: 
Son of Col. G.W. Hessing.
Full Epitaph: 
To the memory of R.W. Hessing;the son of G.W. Hessing late in the;service of D.R. Scindiah,who died 27th July;aged 3 years, 8 months and 21 days
Tomb architecture: 
Plane.
Detailed information: 

His father was employed in the army of Daulat Rao Scindhia,the ruler of the Gwalior State from 1794-1827. His grandfather Jan Willem Hessing was a Colonel in the service of Maharaja Daulat Rao Sindhia and his tomb in the Christian Cemetery in Agra is also called the 'Red Taj Mahal'.

Jan Willem Hessing's epitaph says:
John William Hessing, late a Colonel in the service of Maharaja Daulat Rao Sindhia, who, after sustaining a lingering and very painful illness for many years with true Christian fortitude and resignation, departed this life, 21st July 1803, aged 63 years, 11th months, and 5 days. As tribute of their affection and regard this monument is erected to his beloved memory by his disconsolate widow, Anne Hessing, and afflicted sons and daughters, George William Hessing, Thomas William Hessing and Magdalene Sutherland. He was a native of Utrecht in Holland and came out to Ceylon in the military service of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) in the year 1752, and was present at the taking of Candia by their troops. Five years afterwards he returned to Holland and came out again to India in 1733, and served under the Nizam of the Deccan. In the year 1784;, he entered into the service of Madho Rao Sindhia and was engaged in the several battles that led to the aggrandizement of that Chief and wherein he signalized himself so by his bravery as to gain the esteem and approbation of his employer, more particularly at the battle of Bhondagaon near Agra in the year 1787, which took place between this Chief and Nawab Ismael Beg, when he then became a Captain, and was severely wounded. On the death of Madho Rao Sindhia in 1793, he continued under his successor, Daulat Rao Sindhia, and in 1798 he attained to the rank of Colonel and immediately after to the command of the Fort and City of Agra, which he held to his death.

(There is little to be added to the history given in the epitaph. He was born in 1740. There is no record of his adventures between 1743 and 1784. He served in De Boigjne's brigades of regular troops. The "several battles" are Lalsot, Chaksana and Patan. After Patan, he quarrelled with De Boigne and left him but Madhoji Scindia employed him to raise a bodyguard for him. which grew to 4 battalions. In 1800 he was compelled to resign his command by ill-health and retired as commandant of Agra to that city. He is described as a " good, benevolent man and a brave soldier. " His tomb is a miniature of the Taj in red Agra sandstone.) [Source: Blunt, Edward. List of Inscriptions on Christian Tombs and Tablets of Historical Interest in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Allahabad : Printed by W. C. Abel, Offg. Supdt., Govt. Press, United Provinces, 1911. http://archive.org/details/listofinscriptio00blunrich

These are the inscriptions in Persian on the tomb of John Hessing: "When Colonel John William Hessing departed from this world, he left hundreds of scars of separation. By person he belonged to Holland and was born in that country. He gained fame in India, by the Grace of God." and "The author asked the angel for a quadruplet of the chronogram. In which the day, year and month can be condensed. When the day, year and month was searched in the Christian era. The angel said, "The date is twenty-first July (1803)". The tomb is actually a smaller project on a much reduced scale and some very complicated and costly details of the Taj such as the minars and the chhatris below the dome have been dispensed with. It is much simpler and has no inlay or mosaic. The tomb stands on a square platform, 3.40 m and 117.68 m side, containing a crypt and a corridor around it. An octagonal platform, 2.59 m in span is attached to its each corner. [Source: Singh, Ajay Pratap (2000), 'Very few know about the Red Taj' , The Sunday Tribune 25 June 2000 http://www.tribuneindia.com/2000/20000625/spectrum/main3.htm]

After his father's death, George William Hessing was given command of Daulat Rao Scindhia's battalions and his army was increased. He fought a major engagement against Jeswant Rao Holkar where the Scindhia armies were defeated. He is next heard of commanding the fort at Agra, which he surrendered to Lord Lake in 1803. After surrendering to the British, he was held prisoner by his soldiers but was released on Lake's capture of the city. Hessing and the other European officers then accepted the terms of the Marquess of Wellesley and resigned from the service of Scindhia. G.W. Hessing is buried in the South Park Street Cemetery in Calcuta. He died at the age of 44. [Source: The Bengal Obituary and the Notes relative to the late transactions in the Marhatta empire by Richard Wellesley (Governor-general of India).

Jan Hessing's wife, Anne Deridan, was the sister of General Perron's wife Madeleine Deridan (who also died at Chinsurah). [Source: Sarkar, Jadunath. Fall of the Mughal Empire: 1789-1803. Orient Blackswan, 1992.] This might be another reason why George Hessing might have wanted to move to Chinsurah. Some sources state that George Hessing's mother was Indian (Source: Roy, Kaushik. War, Culture and Society in Early Modern South Asia, 1740-1849. Routledge, 2011) although Sarkar's description of her as Eurasian also fits. George Hessing was also called 'Jorus Sahib' - a corruption of 'George' (Source: Shādān, Basāvan Lal̓. Memoirs of the Puthan Soldier of Fortune: The Nuwab Ameer-Ood-Doulah Mohummud Ameer Khan, Chief of Seronj, Tonk, Rampoora, Neemahera, and Other Places in Hindoostan. Translated by Henry Thoby Prinsep. G. H. Huttmann, military orphan Press, 1832). ].

Any reason for importance: 
His grandfather and father served with the Scindias. His grandfather's tomb is the red taj mahal in Agra cemetery.
Photo name/s: 
Photo 2 close up: 
This record has been created by:: 

Anish Mitra and Souvik Mukherjee