Facades: Gloria Church (1913)
Guest Post by Naresh Fernandes.
Gloria Church contains a memorial stone to an almost-forgotten Bombay character: the Goan opium trader Sir Roger de Faria.
Faria made his fortune shipping opium to China, but lost his wealth rather suddenly. His decline had its roots in an event in 1834, when the Liberal government in Portugal appointed the first native-born Goan, Bernado Peres da Silva, as Prefect of Portuguese India. Within weeks of taking charge Peres was deposed by the territory’s whites and mestiços. He eventually made his way to Bombay, where his friend and host, Sir Roger, agreed to finance an expeditionary force to help him recapture office.
The five-ship force sailed out from Bombay harbour towards Goa on May 27, 1835 – and ran straight into the advancing monsoon. Two gunboats were wrecked and the rest of the sorry armada limped back to Bombay with heavy casualties. Peres was unable to pay back his debts to Sir Roger, tipping the opium trader into bankruptcy. He lived out the rest of his life on a pension granted to him by his friend Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy.
When Sir Roger de Faria died in 1848, his funeral, writes Teresa Albuquerque, was attended by many beggars, “the poor, the aged, the halt and the blind”.
Naresh Fernandes is the editor of the digital daily Scroll.in and the author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay and Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age. He is the conscience of our city.
Photo by Byculla boy Badani, whose first job was under Sir Fernandes’ editorship of Time Out magazine.