In the midst of a walking tour of MG Road and while at the Holy Trinity Church, I found a rather interesting plaque on the wall:

“Sacred to the memory of George Staple Dobbie ESQ. Mysore Revenue Survey, who died from the effects of wounds inflicted by a tiger near Shemoga. May 6 1875. Aged 30 years.”

Many on the Internet have made note of this stone… but this little plaque hides more history than the obvious drama of being mauled by a tiger.

med-dobbie

Firstly, in India it’s quite customary to see memorial plaques peppered on the walls of churches. They’re little mementos posted by soldiers and friends to commemorate their fallen comrades. It doesn’t mean that an individual is buried somewhere in the church or yard, it’s simply a memorial plaque. If your interested in the whereabouts of Mr Dobbie, he’s buried in Shimoga.

It seems he was a member of the Mysore Revenue Survey, which I haven’t been able to find much about. I do know that the British East India Company used surveyors extensively in the 1800s to create a topological map of India and the Himalayas (George Everest was one of these surveyors). Their job was rather dangerous (imagine wandering around in the bush of India using chains and measuring sticks) and many died in the midst of the mapping process.

One remnant from this era can be found in churches throughout India (and maybe the rest of the world). If you’re walking into a church, take a look at the bottom far left step. Often surveyors marked this particular stone with measurements; the thought being that churches were rarely ever destroyed and the information would remain. I haven’t been able to verify this information anywhere; it’s what I’ve been told.

med-holy-trinity-steps-survey

And, now back to our Mr. Dobbie. It seems he was a jungle beater whose main responsibility was killing tigers. I found a copy of his story in the July 4, 1875 edition of the New York Times.

Intelligence has just been received in England of the death of Mr. George S. Dobbie, Mysore Revenue Survey at Shemogah, in the Mysore Territory, on the 6th of May, from injuries received on the 2d from a tiger he had mortally wounded. On the 2d of May, while Mr. Dobbie was in camp near Malur, about twenty-seven miles from Shemogah, he received intelligence of a tiger having been seen at a place about six miles distant; he at once proceeded to the spot and commenced beating the jungle in the usual manner… [Full Article]

Looks like in the end the “feline tribe” dispatched their enemy.