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Our beloved Founder Sir Robert Stanes was born in London on May 13th 1841. He was the youngest son of James Stanes, who had a family of five sons and four daughters. James Stanes was a ship – owner of London, a free born citizen of that city. Robert Stanes was educated at Campdon House School, Brighton. While yet a boy in England he had come under the ministry of Rev. Thomas. Binny in the old “Wheigh House Chapel,” as well as that of Rev. Christopherson, a member of New College Chapel, St. John’s Wood. He left school at the age of 16 and served for one year in the office of Tolman, Livingston & Co., ship brokers, London.
In September 1858, he left England for India in the Green’s line sailing ship ‘Trafalgar’, making a voyage round “The Cape”. After 96 days, the vessel arrived at Madras in December 1858, just before Christmas.
He worked as a planter with his brother Thomas Stanes up to 1861. In 1860 he met with an accident which injured his eye. Robert Stanes paid his first visit to Coimbatore in 1860 to meet his friend, Mr. Thomas, the Collector. To try and shake off the fever he had contracted at this time, he made a voyage to Ganjam and Colombo in his father’s ship ‘Bengal’. This voyage made a great impact on his life’s work, for on it he read Bishop Ryle’s tract ASSURANCE, through which God helped him and blessed immensely. Being convicted by the Holy Spirit, he at once commenced Sunday Bible School work for the Anglo-Indian children, but as many of the children attending this Sunday School could neither read nor write, he started the Day school in November 1862.
It was Mr. Robert Stanes who gave to Coimbatore its industrial importance. In the memorable year 1861, he found the climate of Coimbatore suitable for the curing of coffee, and for the ginning of cotton.
He went to England in 1869 and on July 7th, 1870, married Harriet Huntingdon Harris, the second daughter of Major-General Harris and granddaughter of Colonel Sir N. Harris, of Waterloo fame. They were married by Mr. George Muller of Bristol and had six daughters and two sons. Mr. Robert Stanes and Mrs. Stanes returned to Coimbatore at the end of 1870, In 1888, the C.S. & W. mills, established by Robert Stanes, thrust its first great chimney skywards. For the next 15 years the business (Stanes & Co.), the school –work and church services grew. Mrs. Stanes evinced a keen and active interest in the School till her death in 1901.
The school with its Founder, celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1912. In 1914 Robert Stanes was awarded Kaiser –I-Hind gold medal, and was bestowed with Knighthood in the year 1920. But whether his services had been recognized or not, Sir Robert Stanes would have continued to live as always – “A Christian Knight,” “A Great Gentle Man’” “A Pioneer industrialist,” “The Children’s friend,” “Father to the helpless and the widows”, “the Greatest Supporter of India”, “A Practical Christian”, “A Missionary Business Man”, “The Grand Old Man of South India”, “A Philanthropist.”
The following appeared in the different news papers, MADRAS TIMES, dated 7th January,1920.
Sir Robert Stanes has done a life long meritorious service in promoting agricultural and industrial expansion. A keen Christian, he belongs to a generation of European businessmen, very probably the last of his class. He has given employment to thousands for over a generation and he has been an employer of the old patriarchal type…His generous aid to education and his simplicity reveal his inborn charitable disposition. His life may well be an example to many a planter and a business man in India.
His hospitality and the kindness he bestowed on those who were in need is note worthy. He was a simple and lovable man who made money only to give it back. It was his hobby to help those in need. Any movement which aimed at helping the poorer members of the society always appealed to him.
His humility and longing to glorify God is evident through his article titled “Homeward Bound” in which he comments on the write- ups about him in THEN AND NOW – Vol. II of June 1913. “When I received a copy of the Jubilee number of our magazine I was sorry I had not seen it before it was sent to the press, for I would have liked to have used the scissors and cut out lot about the Founder!
‘TO GOD BE THE GLORY’
The agents, dealers and staff of Messrs. T. Stanes & Co. Ltd., while felicitating our Founder who received the Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal testify of him in their address as a person with all noble characteristics of a Christian gentle man and a generous friend.
In the Principal’s report (recorded in THEN AND NOW – 1917), read at distribution of prizes, Mr. E.E. Berry brings to light the generosity of our Founder saying thus “Associated as closely as I am with the working of the institution, I know how large an amount comes out of his pocket… God bless him for his large-hearted benevolence”. Without his self-sacrificing spirit, this school would never hold the position it does today.
Though his Imperial Majesty crowned a life of selfless labour with the honour of Knighthood, his passion to live for the glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his desire to help others remained the same even through the rest of his life. No honour was more fully deserved, none the less sought for, but the emblem of chivalry and service has never been more fittingly bestowed.
During one of his felicitation ceremonies that followed his Knighthood, Sir Robert Stanes graciously acknowledged the Imperial honour conferred upon him and the praises of thousands of the Anglo-Indian community whose benefactor he was. But he assured his hearers that “he coveted above all else the “Well done!” of His Heavenly Master, the King of kings, the New Name and the Eternal Reward which had been promised him by his soon-coming Lord, exhorted all present to be ready to meet Him”. (Extract from Then and Now,1920, page 10)
This humble servant of Christ Jesus, who at the age of 20, launched out on a big business venture and at the age of 21 founded a school as per God’s leading for His glory, watched over the fruits of his labours for 75 years and went to be with the Lord on 6th September,1936 at the age of 95 – a True Christian Knight indeed.
For 154 years, this prestigious institution (Stanes School) has gone through ups and downs, yet it stands tall as one of the best schools in the Nation because it was built on Solid Ground – Jesus Christ and His Word. In his letter to Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst and Viscountesss Goschen in his invitation to lay the foundation for our school buildings, our Founder Sir Robert Stanes writes, “Your Excellencies will notice that the foundation for this building is being laid on very solid ground, and we wish to add that in building up the character and lives of our boys great stress is laid on the teaching of the Whole Bible – God’s Word and we trust that all who may be connected with this Protestant Evangelical School in the future will remain true to the unchanging Word of God.” [Extract from “Then and Now”, 1928, pg.7]
Under the article titled “Our Founder’s Holiday” in THEN and NOW – Vol II Oct.1913 page 105 is recorded an interesting letter of our Founder to the boys and girls of the school which ends with the following words which reveal the Founder’s vision – “I pray that the boys and girls of our school at Coimbatore may be amongst those who have found Christ as their own personal Saviour, so that one day we may all be ‘At Home’ with the Lord.”
Mr. E.E. Berry also echoes the vision of Sir Robert Stanes in the Principal’s report recorded in THEN and NOW of 1922 with the following words – “In the Spiritual side we are full of praise and thanksgiving. Although there is much darkness to contend against, yet to those who are and have been praying and watching for many years there are many signs of real and Spiritual awakening. Since we stand in the faith we know we shall see that for which this school was most particularly started, namely, that those connected with it might be born into the Kingdom of God by the Spirit of God.”
The following is our Founder’s article titled “Our Jubilee” for the school magazine THEN and NOW printed for the Jubilee(50th) year 1912. In the following article, one might get a glimpse of the heart of Sir Robert Stanes which would have longed as always to give glory to Christ Jesus.
Thou shalt cause the trumpet of Jubilee to sound …in the day of atonement shall ye make it sound. It is the Jubilee, it shall be holy unto you. Lev 25: 9 – 12
In looking back on the past fifty years I find it is our first duty to raise our Ebenezer and rejoice. Hitherto hath the Lord helped us….
Does not this teach us that our rejoicings, especially on such an occasion, should be associated with the cross of Christ.
Let us therefore, in the midst of our festivities, never forget that our great joy can only come through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us.
How immensely it would enhance our joy if we were sure that all who had passed through this school during these fifty years were on the Lord’s side.
Won’t you give us this joy in this our Jubilee year?
Let our motto always be, “God First.”
It is the Jubilee, it shall be holy unto you.
Your sincere old friend,
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