REV. GEORGE BAUGH
Rev Baugh was never a Principal of Richmond. However he was in charge of the Mission and hence the school and taught scripture in the school. Nevertheless it was his untiring efforts and ‘never-say-die’ attitude that helped the creation Richmond College. Rev. Baugh was a person who took “NO” for an answer. He constantly and consistently pressurised the mission to give a school proper to Galle. In as much as preaching the gospel he had his heart in education. For all what he did he is considered the “Founding Father of Richmond” and has a very special place in Richmond’s history.
Rev. George Baugh who is credited with founding of Galle High School which is known as Richmond College now was a missionary with zeal. Whilst in Galle he left no stone upturned to find ways and means to establish Galle High School. His letters to mission headquarters in England and to his superiors were very strongly worded when he did not get his way. To get the Galle High School started at times he sent letters that were rancorous to his superiors. He had once even threatened to give-up his missionary work if the Galle school was not going to be a reality. Baugh continued to urge the Committee to take up the work in more vigorous fashion. He gave them no respite from his strongly worded letters written with vitriol had their desired effects in the end.
Reading through Methodist Mission archives one find his name being mentioned prominently. His services were not confined to Galle only. He did yeoman service to Moratuwa, Negombo, Kandy and many other areas. He was more interested in starting schools the results that can be seen in Galle, Kandy, Negombo and many other places.
In 1864 the Rev. George Baugh having arrived in 1861 succeeded Rev. Rippon. Almost from the beginning he pursued and built on the idea of establishing a “superior” English School on Richmond Hill, which Rev. Rippon mooted during his tenure. Rev. Baugh’s reasons were mainly that the standard of English of the local Theological students was not satisfactory and that the energies of the missionaries and local ministers were going to waste because the children of the Church were attending non-Methodist English Schools in Colombo. For these reasons he and his fellow-workers made frequent representations to the Foreign Missions Committee of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in England about the necessity for such a school.
In 1864 the Rev. Spence Hardy, the immediate superior of Mr. Baugh, wrote: “I have referred at some length to the subject of education and I have expressed it as my conviction pressing upon me with irresistible force that it is our solemn duty to take a higher and more decided position in the cause of education than any we have yet occupied.”
Sometime later, in 1865, Mr. Baugh wrote again: “I believe it is the final decision of our Chairman that Richmond is the best place for our institution……We have 17 acres of land surrounded by a purely native population and a healthy situation, and, in short, almost in every particular, Providence points this out to us as the place for Methodism to make a stand. It is by being on the spot and seeing all these things as they really are that I am constrained to write thus and ask, ‘Can we not do something towards getting a new Chapel, a Training Institution and a large self supporting English School here, all connected together under the eye of both European and Native Ministers?”
He wrote further “We are anxiously hoping to get some help from the Jubilee Fund*, and without forgetting the claims of the most needy mission stations, I feel sure that no mission station can be in greater need of help than this. If any praying of mine could prevail with you and the Committee I would not wait one moment to beseech you to help us in the matter I have dwelt upon. Why should our mixed schools be mere feeders of Government and other schools?”
The Rev. Spence Hardy in his famous “Jubilee Memorials” advocated Richmond Hill as the site for an English School for South Ceylon. He referred to “the extensive grounds connected with the Mission House, the celebrity of its position and its quietness.” He further argued that the people here were anxious that their sons should learn English and were prepared to pay for such an education. The school could therefore be self-supporting.
As a result of these representations about “the desired school of a superior class in Point de Galle,” the Committee in England resolved that, the establishment of such a school was a measure of the highest importance to the interest of the Mission in South Ceylon, and was delayed only by the lack of necessary funds. This decision was taken in 1865.
Three years later the Rev. John Scott, Chairman of the District in Colombo, pressed for the appointment of a Missionary thoroughly qualified to take charge of a superior Anglo-Vernacular Institution. Where in the district it should he placed was not of great consequence to him, but he thought the most convenient place in every respect would be Richmond Hill.
The Rev. J. Nicholson, the Chairman of the Galle District, who did much to popularise Richmond College when it started functioning some years later wrote in 1868 ; “I have never been particularly enthusiastic on the educational question, believing that our work mainly owes its success under God to direct engagement in pastoral duties. We have not needed schools to introduce Christianity. We require an institution under a thoroughly efficient Principal not so much to open a mission and evangelise the masses as to consolidate work and retain our own people. Providence has given us on this estate every advantage which could be desired for such an institution as we have requested”.
The Methodist Conference of over 600 delegates which meets annually about July to transact the business of the Church met in 1871, but no provision was made for a Missionary to take charge of educational work in South Ceylon. This made the Rev. John Scott, the Colombo Chairman, to write in desperation: “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, and our representations on the subject for many years past, though always kindly received and the force of them admitted, have been so fruitless that we are no strangers to heart sickness. “Is it not a disgrace to us that we have to hand our children over to the Institutions of Government or of other Churches?”
It was further pointed out to the authorities in England that Madras, Mysore and North Ceylon Districts with fewer numbers had their English Schools but South Ceylon had none. As a result of these efforts the Conference sanctioned in 1873 the establishment of a high class English School in South Ceylon and appointed the Rev. S. R. Wilkin to take charge of it.