Robert Ebenezer Somasundram

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Robert Ebenezer Somasundram

Birthplace: Chennai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Immediate Family:

Son of (Reverend) Somasundram
Husband of Elizabeth Somasundram
Father of James Leonard Somasundram; Robert Somasundram; Lawrence Henry Vincent Somasundram; Grace Paul and <private> Somasundram
Brother of Georgina Margaret Bissessor and unknown elder sister

Occupation: Court Intrepreter -Indian languages
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert Ebenezer Somasundram

Arrived in Durban on 11th April 1890 aboard the Umtata 1 after matriculating at the Wesleyan Mission School in Madras. Started working as a teacher at Point Road School, but switched career to become a court interpreter. Was apparently also involved in Natal cricket.

From family oral history, his father (or an earlier ancestor or relative) was apparently the first or an early Christian priest in India (possibly Methodist. The book 'Christian Indians in Natal 1860-1911 by JB Brain or Bain, on page 153, lists Rev. Somasundram as the father of Robt (sic) Somasundram whose details match Robert Ebenezer Somasundram), and was rejected by his family after converting to Christianity. There is more information on attempts to trace Robert Somasundram's ancestry, in the project "Somasundram family in India"

It is not clear whether the reference below refers to the same family, but the name and description of conversion to Christianity appear to match Robert Somasundram's father, though the provided dates don't clearly match unless he had children from an earlier marriage ... or perhaps it is instead a record of a very young Robert Somasundram or perhaps just a similar story from another family:


LETTERS FROM THE REV. W. T. SATTHIANADHAN. Chixtadretettah, Madras, Sept. 15 th, 1879.

OUR Sundays ago I baptized in my church at Chintadre-pettah a young Brahmin from Madura. Ho was for a time educated iu the American Mission School at Madura, and the seed there sown in his heart has now riponed in his conversion. He is highly connected. His father is a village Moonsitf and well-to-do. He has a young wife of fourteen, but she has refused to join him. He was employed at Tuticorin, in a mercantile house. He wrote to me from there that he was very willing and anxious to come up to Madras and receive baptism from me. As he was a perfect stranger to me, and as I knew nothing about his antecedents or circumstances, I did not reply to his letter, but one evening, all on a sudden, a y’oung man called, and on inquiry I found that ho was tho very person who had written to mo. Of course I received him on probation. Three or four days after, his father and father-in-law arrived from Madura, and endeavoured to persuade him to go back with them to Madura. He " ^ however, very firm. But as I had reason to think that they would give him much trouble, I asked Mr. Arden to take him under his protec- tion. This ho readily and promptly did, and received him in the Mission House. But I may say that for about a fortnight the Mission House was in a state of siege. Many of his relatives and friends, both male and female, constantly visited him, and tried by threats and persuasions to draw him away. Immediately' after his baptism, the same Sunday morning, a scene took place at the Mission House which I can never forget. His stepmother and aunt embraced him, and wept in such a manner that it was really heartrending. Ilis father, who heaped curses and abuses upon lnm and all his Christian friends, finding that he was unyielding, flew at him like a tiger and tried to smother him. His coat was torn to pieces. It was, indeed, a trying scene. But the Lord graciously helped him, and he stood firm to the very last. Subsequently, several efforts were made to decoy him, but all in vain. He is still at the Mission House, and will probably attend the Madras Christian College for a time to further his education. Mr. Arden is very kind to him. He gave a stirring address on the occasion of his baptism.

Nor.. 30 th, 1879.

The other day, having heard of the death of his father, Somasundram, the young Brahmin from Madura, went thither to settle his affairs. He has sent me two letters since, relating all the trials which he encountered from his relatives, and his purpose to stay at home and manage his affairs as a Christian. I hope he will have grace to remain steadfast unto the end, and that he will be the means of bringing his young wife and other relatives to the foot of the cross. "

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Robert Ebenezer Somasundram's Timeline

Chennai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Age 20
Point Road School
January 22, 1907
Age 37
Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa