Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Alfred Brace Cruse of India and Ceylon

David Cruse has sent me some wonderful material about Alfred Brace Cruse which I am delighted to publish here. Alfred was born on 21st September 1843 in Warminster, Wiltshire, and was the son of Thomas Cruse, a land surveyor and estate agent, and Ann Brace. Alfred married Elizabeth Ann Fonseca on 23rd February 1864 in Blacktown, Madras, India. At the time of the marriage he was described as a coffee planter. Alfred and Elizabeth had two children: Annie Florence, born in 1874 in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Arthur Edmund Cruse, born in 1879 in Ceylon. Arthur's wife died of sunstroke on 25th April 1880 in India. On 7th September 1880 he married Emma May Luttriel. They were married for just four years before Alfred died of cholera on 7th October 1884. Alfred is another illustrious descendant of the tree which originated in Rode, Somerset. Melanie McNaught, Alfred's great-granddaughter, has very kindly supplied the photograph.

The following obituary, transcribed by David Cruse, was published in the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Vol. Ixxxii. Session 1884-85. Part iv) and provides a fascinating account of Alfred's distinguished career.
ALFRED BRACE CRUSE, born on the 21st of September, 1843, was the eldest son of Thomas Cruse, of Warminster, Wilts, land-agent and surveyor, and grandson of Joseph Brace, of Bath, who for many years was associated with Sir John Rennie, Past-President Inst. C. E. in engineering works. He was educated at Lord Weymouth's Grammar School, Warminster, and then entered his Father's office in which he remained until July 1860, when he sailed for India, under a three years' engagement with Mr. Alpin Grant Fowler, owner of coffee estates in the Neilgherry Hills. Having completed this engagement, and finding the position, after Mr Fowler's death, not altogether advantageous, he removed to the city of Madras, where he gained the notice of some influential friends, and through them a situation with the Madras Railway as Inspector of Works, being stationed for two years at Cuddapah. In November 1866 he entered the service of the Madras Irrigation and Canal Company, under Mr. J. H. Latham, M. Inst. C. E., the Chief Engineer, and was first employed on the surveys of the Nellore branch, 100 miles in length, and subsequently as Assistant Engineer on the construction of the Pennair Anicut; also in laying out the line and on the construction of 8 miles of navigable canal, with its connected aqueducts, locks, bridges, and culverts. In 1871 he left the continent for Ceylon, having obtained an appointment as Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department. At this time his principal work was constructing tanks and canals near Matara, in the Southern Province, upon which many hundred coolies were employed. In 1872 he had charge of the construction of the Elle Halle Tank, in doing which he found it hard work to make the surveys, and run the levels, through thick jungle (abounding with leeches innumerable), and to follow contours of the hill-sides some 30 or 40 miles round. This tank contained 240 acres of water surface. In the following year he was in charge of 400 miles of roads, besides buildings, and five taluks. He afterwards went to Denegama, where he completed the Ellawela irrigation works; superintended those in Upper Gangaboda Pattuwa; improved Kekanadure channels, to facilitate the distribution of water, and by December 1876 finished the repairs of the Denegama Tank.

In 1878 a famine occurred in Ceylon, which greatly taxed the powers of those in authority in providing food and labour. In 1879 Mr. Alfred B. Cruse was employed on some surveys for village tanks near Panadura, in the Western Province. He had also charge of the relief works near Colombo, upon which about two thousand villagers were employed. The work (one of several schemes surveyed by him) was a flood-outlet at Talpitiya, about 19 miles on the road towards Galle, by which lands in the Ratnapura and Kalutara districts were drained, and rendered capable of being cultivated. In 1880 he was at Beregama, surveying for a channel 7 miles long, running through dense jungle.

Early in 1881 he was, at the instance of his old chief, Mr. J. H. Latham, appointed divisional engineer of the lower part of the Madras Irrigation Canal, 82 miles, then in thorough working order; but some masonry works, including a large wharf and warehouse, as well as divisional office, docks, and foreman's hut, were in progress. Next he became Local Fund Engineer at Cuddapah, and had charge of 63 miles of canal, which was used for both irrigation and navigation, and in 1883 accepted a similar appointment at Ongole, 75 miles from Nellore. In 1884 he removed in the same capacity to Ellore, and in October of that year he obtained an advanced post, and went to Cocanada to take over the charge of his new position; but on returning to Ellore he was seized with cholera, and died, after a few hours' illness, on the 7th of October, 1884, leaving a widow and two children.

Twenty-four years' continuous residence in the East, especially in unhealthy parts of Ceylon, had caused Mr. Cruse to become a victim to temporary attacks of neuralgia and fever, but few men of an English constitution could so long have endured the Indian climate, with the amount of labour and responsibility which he sustained. He was regarded as a hard-working, intelligent, and trustworthy officer, of unimpeachable character, and was a valuable acquisition on any staff. He was warm-hearted, and kept up constant communication with his home friends.
The following testimonials, again transcribed by David Cruse, are all in the collection of Melanie McNaught:

Reservoir Surveys, Bellary
Shemoga, May 3rd, 1869.

Mr. A. B. Cruse has on my recommendation been appointed Assistant Engineer on the Co.’s staff. He is very accurate and methodical in all he does and his stated facts can be thoroughly relied on. For the whole of the setting out of the Canal near Cuddapah, its anicut, aquaducts, in fact the whole of the work, whether masonry or earthwork, I relied and properly so on him, and he is as good in office as in out-of-door work, and his delineation of work on Paper is admirable. I speak from the experience of some Years.

M. Inst. C. E.

Madras Irrigation and Canal Co.,
Shemoga, November 3rd, 1869

My Dear Roberts,

Cruse, whose name I think I must have mentioned to you, and who has been with me 3 years or more, wants your interest.

He is Assistant Engineer with our Company but wants to leave if he can make interest elsewhere. He is an Englishman, thoroughly understands all that has to be done in work, is very correct and is a first rate field hand. Can you get him something worth having with West or whoever has charge of the new lines, or in another way can you forward his views. I strongly recommend him.

Yours sincerely,

No. 520.
Madras Irrigation and Canal Co.,
Pennnair Division,
Adamapully, 29th April, 1870.

A. B. CRUSE, Esq.,
Assistant Engineer.


Herewith I have the honor to forward to you two letters received from the Agent and Manager yesterday evening.

One of which, No. 111, is the usual form of notice that your services with this Company will terminate on the 31st October. I need scarcely add, how very sorry I am that such notice is rendered absolutely necessary on account of diminution of the Company's funds, and how very sorry I shall be to lose the services of so able an Assistant Engineer as yourself.

I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient servant,
Executive Engineer.

Madras Irrigation and Canal Co.,
Pennair Division,
Adamapully, 29th April, 1870.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. A. B. Cruse for nearly three years, and during a portion of this time he has been serving on the above Works under me as Assistant Engineer.

I cannot speak too highly of his abilities. He is zealous, accurate, and painstaking in all his work. He is thoroughly competent to carry out the duties of an Assistant Engineer. I have had many opportunities of witnessing his energy and method of working. He is quite competent in laying out Works, Surveying and Levelling, and generally of Superintending Works. Some of the largest masonry works on this Division have been most creditably executed under his immediate superintendence. For more than twelve months he has had charge of over eight miles of Canal — including earthworks and masonry — and the manner in which this length has been conducted reflects the highest credit upon him.

The general reduction of the Staff of Engineers, owing to the approaching completion of the Works is the cause of his having to leave.

I feel confident that wherever Mr. Cruse is employed he will give the same satisfaction as he has hitherto done, not only to myself but to the other Engineers who have had charge of the Pennair Division under whom he has been serving — all of whom speak very highly of him.

M. Inst. C. E.

Madras Irrigation and Canal Co.,
Chief Engineer’s Office
Kurnool, 6th May, 1870.

Mr A. B. Cruse was appointed 28th November, 1866, as Surveyor on the Nellore Surveys, and was transferred from Nellore to Pennair on the 13th April, 1867, to assist in the construction of the Main Canal and Anicut across the Pennair. His salary was increase on the 17th February 1868.

Promoted from Surveyor to Assistant Engineer on the 17th August, 1868 with increased salary.

Salary increased again 5th March, 1869.

Mr Cruse fairly won his promotion by the success which attended his energy and care when engaged on Works in the Pennair Division.

His superior's wishes seem to me to have always been faithfully and prudently carried out, his field work has always been highly valued by his Divisional Engineer.

I regret that under present circumstances of the Company have not been able longer to defer his discharge.


To A. B. Cruse, Esq.
Chief Engineer.
Ootacamund, 13th May, 1870

I have great pleasure in testifying herewith to the value of Mr. A. B. Cruse’s services. He has been employed on the 10th section for upwards of three years, a great part of which time he was my only Assistant. I always found him a most willing and zealous Engineer and shall be most happy to do anything in my power to obtain him further employment.

He is leaving this company’s services on account of the reduction of the staff, owing to the completion of the work.

M. Inst. C. E.,
Executive Engineer, 10th Section
M. I. & C. Co.

Madras Irrigation and Canal Co.,
Agent’s Office
Madras, 16th May, 1870

My Dear Mr. Mackenzie,

As our Works are approaching completion we are obliged to dispense with the services of a great number of Engineers.

Mr. A. B. Cruse is one of those I am very anxious to be employed again.
He is one of our Assistant Engineers, and has been employed by us for three years and a half; during that period he has given great satisfaction, to all the Officers under whom he has worked.

He is a hard-working, intelligent, trustworthy Officer of unimpeachable character, and would be an acquisition wherever Works are going on. I understand that Engineers are likely to be required for the Carnatic Railway, with which you are connected, and I am sure that Mr. Cruse will be found a valuable Officer if a vacancy offers for him at this Work.

Agent and Manager

Kurnool, 15th August, 1870.

My Dear Mr. Cruse,

I am glad to hear that you commence your work on distribution to-day. I am very glad that you should have an opportunity, on a distinct piece of work, in gaining full credit for the care and diligence I am sure you have always bestowed on your work.

Yours very truly,

Kurnool., 28th February, 1876.

My Dear Sir,

I have much pleasure in proposing you as an associate of the Institution.
Your letter would have been answered earlier had it been possible. I have been in camp and very busy.

I am not in a position to offer any permanent employment to you now. I am glad to see that you have had no idle time since you left.

Yours very truly

A. B. Cruse, Esq.
Colombo, 15th May, 1877.

This is to certify that Mr A. B. Cruse has been for about 6 years in the Irrigation Branch of the Public Works Dept., Ceylon, during which time he has been in charge of two important Tanks, Halli Ella and Ela Vella, the works of which he has carried out extremely well, and especially the latter. The works consist in both cases of a high bund with sluice tower, culvert, and spill water. He has also been employed in the reconstruction of a bund at Denegama Tank, which had previously, when in other hands, twice failed, and his work here has been excellent, and, considering all the difficulties of a very bad site, cheap.

I give this certificate to Mr Cruse as I am about to resign my appointment under the Ceylon Govt in whose service Mr. Cruse still remains.

(Signed) C. WOODWARD, Capt., R. E.,
Asst. for Irrigation to the Director
Public Works, Ceylon.

No. 904
Colombo, 4th August 1879



I have the honor to forward the enclosed application for an increase of salary from Mr Cruse of the Irrigation Department and to state that this officer has done good service in the construction of the Flood Outlet Channel at Talpitya, and at the Irrigation Works at Wean Watta Wewa.

(Signed) F. VINE.
Provincial Assistant,
P. W. D.

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