Historical Statement on the Origin and Growth of the Bishop Cotton Schools, Bangalore
Prepared from the School records by M. Matthan in 1983 while he served as Vice Chairman of the then combined Board of Management of the School.

Although founded in the year 1865, the origin of Bishop Cotton Schools, Bangalore, can be traced back to 1861, when the Rev. S.T. Pettigrew, then Chaplain of St. Mark's Church, Bangalore, conceived the idea of starting a day and boarding school for the benefit of children belonging to the European and Anglo-Indian communities and for Christians resident in the then Civil and Military Station of Bangalore and its environs. It is significant that at the time he also appealed to the Maharajah of Mysore for assistance. With the approval of the Government of India, and a grant-in-aid from it, the School came into existence on 19th April 1865 in a house on the High Grounds. Having been started as a foundation of the Church of England, it was given the name of Bishop Cotton of Calcutta because of his initiative in originating a scheme of education for the above communities.

By the time Rev. Pettigrew left Bangalore in 1867, to become Chaplain of Ootacamund, the School had 45 boys and 20 girls.

After surviving the first five troublous years of its existence, when it had three Principals and suffered from inadequate finances, Dr. G.U. Pope, a distinguished Tamil scholar and a missionary, took charge of the school in 1871 as its first Warden and in his very first year, he moved the School to the present site of Bishop Cotton Boys' School (acquired in 1870) and placed the Girl's section under its own Headmistress while he, as Warden, was responsible to the Board of Governors for both sections.
Leadership, dedication and devotion to duty characterized Dr. Pope's tenure of office for over a decade, and in 1881 he left to become Reader in Tamil at Oxford University. While the heralding shield of Bishop Cotton was adopted as the School shield, it was Dr. Pope who gave the School his family motto.

"Nec Dextrorsum, Nec Sinistrorsum"
(Neither to the right not to the left)
Joshua: 1:7

There are hardly any records of the School for the next twenty-five years, but it is known that in the year 1900 grave difficulties arose, both educational and financial, and by 1906 the affairs of the School had reached such a parlous state that, with the added threat of stoppage of the Government's grant-in-aid, the School faced total closure.

It was at this stage that Bishop Whitehead of Madras, who was Chairman of the Board of Governors, asked Rev (later Bishop) Pakenham Walsh and his team members of the S.P G. Brotherhood at Bishop Heber College, Trichinopoly, to take charge of the School. This group, later to be known as the Brotherhood of St. Peter, took over in 1907 and breathed fresh life into the School and transformed it into a vigorous institution It was in 1911, while Rev. Pakenham Walsh was still in charge, that the Girls' section moved across to 'Stafford House' which is what the present location of Bishop Cotton Girls School was then known as.

The Schools have never looked back since then, but it was after Rev. (later. Canon) William Elphick took over the Wardenship of the Boys' School in 1930 that the ‘Golden Age’ of Cotton's began. Over an uninterrupted period of 25 years, the longest that any Warden had served, he laboured with selfless devotion for the welfare and growth of the Schools. It was in 1938, during Canon Elphick's regime, that the SPG in London nominated an Indian national, viz. Rajamantra Pravina Dewan Bahadur K. Matthan on the Board of Governors of the School for the first time.

Mention has to be made also of Mr. Alfred Garibaldi Hayness, a devout layman who joined the Brotherhood in 1911 and served for several years as Headmaster under many Wardens and is still remembered by old students who came under his care for his sterling qualities as a disciplinarian and as a versatile and inspiring teacher. The Girls' School was also fortunate in having had a series of talented Principals from the United Kingdom who served the Institution with great distinction and devotion.

In 1947, the Brotherhood of St. Peter joined the newly formed Church of South India and came under the aegis of that Church with the Bishop of Mysore as the Chairman of the Board of Governors, which position was held until then by the Bishop of Madras. After the division of the Mysore Diocese into the Dioceses of Northern Central and South Karnataka, the Bishop, Karnataka Central Diocese became an ex-officio member of the Board. Also, because St. Mark's Cathedral has been closely associated with the Schools, the Presbyter-in-charge of St. Mark's became an ex-officio member of the Board. Rev. E. David, the last surviving member of St. Peter's Brotherhood in India, is presently the Chaplain of the Schools.

With the attainment of Independence, the Schools opened their doors to a much wider spectrum of students and today admit children irrespective of caste, creed, race or language. While the majority of the students now are non-Christians, the Schools affirm the basic purpose for which they were formed, namely to impart a sound, liberal education through the medium of English under Christian influence while respecting other faiths to which both teachers and students may belong. While the European and Anglo-Indian communities, for whose benefit the Schools were founded, have largely left the country, the Schools also reiterate their commitment to the cause of the education and upliftment of the small Anglo-Indian Community that still remains and Christians of all denominations.

The Girls' School had its first Indian Principal, viz. Mrs. C.A. Joseph in 1963 while the first Indian Warden (now known as Principal) of the Boys' School, viz. Mr. A.T. Balraj was appointed in 1970.

It would be in the fitness of things to record with gratitude and appreciation the large number of bequests received by the Schools from time to time. Among the major benefactors, special mention has to be made of Canon John Wyndham Foley, who was one of the first members of the SPG Brotherhood and a member of the Governing Body for many years. The largest bequest was made by the Rev. J.C. Wimbush, sometime teacher and member of the Brotherhood.
Excerpts from The Old Cottonian
IV Edition (93 – 94)