The Perspective of a Local Madeira Authority - 1853
The Perspective of a Local Madeira Authority
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Translation from the Portuguese posting at

June 20, 1853: Secretaria d'Estado dos Negócios Estrangeiros - Visconde de Athouguia.

(Translated by Joe M. Sanches and Maria da Ascencao Cunha, September 1998.)

Kalley (Dr. Robert Reid) was born in Mont Floridan, near Glasgow, in Scotland, on September 6, 1809, the son of Robert Kalley and Joan R. Kalley, and he died in the city of Edinburg on January 17,1888. In 1832, he concluded his medical training at one of England's universities.

Approximately six years later, on October 2, 1838, Dr. Kalley arrived in Funchal, where, except for short intervals, he lived until August 9, 1846. He became renown for both Protestant conversions, which he openly exercised among us, as well as the distressing turmoil that he brought onto the lap of the Madeiran family. He was a man of extraordinary talent and a very distinguished physician, who possessed the rare talent of being able to conquer the multitudes with his inspiring and eloquent words, his greatest secret in the efficiency of his propaganda. He was without a doubt a believer, but overall a fanatic. He was possessed by a fearless and hateful sectarianism, and he would never have wavered a step in his audacious and tireless propaganda, had he not been forced to hastily leave the Island.

At first, he limited himself to providing free medical services in his clinic, but soon, became known for his practice of charitable deeds to the poor and for the establishment of schools. Combined with his attractive personal qualities, and the prestige of his words, every social class of our land imbued him with an aura of affection, consideration and respect. The City Council of Funchal publicly praised him highly for the services he rendered to education and for his acts of philanthropy towards the less fortunate. Moreover, the central government exempted custom duties on medicines that were imported to this city destined for the treatment of the poor. The highly regarded Doctor changed into a fearless propagandist, and it was obvious that his proselytism was of greater importance than the disinterested practice of charity. This was further accentuated after a trip that he made to England, where he stayed from June to September 1845. There, he attended conferences lead by leaders of biblical societies and important personalities interested in anti-Catholic propaganda, which inspired his natural sectarian zeal and increased his courage and audacity for the dissemination of Protestant ideas.

Upon returning, Dr. Kelly started one of his most intense propaganda campaigns. Even the patients he treated in his house were forced to listen to his sermons, although, they manifested repugnance in having to do so. There were by then well circulated outcries against the bold propagandist, but not even the warnings and orders from the authorities, nor the loudly circulated threats from the public inhibited the fervor of the famous Scottish physician, who, with the house surrounded by the police, and listening to insults directed at him, continued, unintimidated, with the propaganda of his religious ideals. The insults directed at the Catholic religion incited a general upheaval from the people of Madeira against Dr. Kelly. He came among us to uproot the people from the beliefs of their elders, and to deliver the most disastrous divisions amidst the family unit. The reaction to this impudent proselytism, as was to be expected, produced serious disturbances, forcing the local authorities to intervene to restrain the defiance of the proselytizer. There were then deplorable events, where excesses were committed by Catholics and Protestants, that could have been avoided entirely, had Dr. Kelly not started his propaganda, or at least had he not given it a character of such accentuated fanaticism.

Because this was a British subject, he was treated with great moderation and prudence, and more than once, the Protestant doctor, in front of the local authorities and other entities of the upper class, made formal declarations that he would put an end to the evangelization of the Madeiran people, and that he would limit his propaganda to foreigners, who might come by, per chance. He failed completely to abide by his promises, and hope was gradually lost, having its final deplorable conclusion in the sad events that took place on August 9, 1846.

Dr. Robert Kalley lived in a country house in Vale Formoso where the proselytes met. The police had guarded the house for a long time because it was feared that popular anger could manifest itself in condemnable excess. Meanwhile, the apostolic fervor of the fanatic propagandist did not rest. He also worked tirelessly as a medical doctor, treating the sick free of charge and distributing medicines and charity to the poor while insisting that he performed wonders at the art of curative medicine.

On August 9,1846, in plain daylight, Dr. Kalley’s house was surrounded by such a vast multitude, that the police was unable to control it. Excesses of every kind were then practiced. The doors to the residence were broken down and they raided the house, while searching for Dr. Kalley in every corner, who luckily, in escaping, found a safe refuge from the fury of the assailants. He hid in the house of one of his compatriots, and there, the British Consul advised him to leave Madeira without delay. Dressed in women’s clothing and taken wrapped in a net to the beach, he was able to board an English ship and leave this Island, to which he never returned.

Dr. Robert Kalley left for Illinois, United States of America and brought with him many Madeirans who had followed his teachings. Others, afraid of being persecuted, and even a larger number, if only because of their spirit of adventure, immigrated, and enlarged the Portuguese colonies of Demerara, Trinidad and of the United Sates of America.

The Portuguese government sent to Madeira Antonio José de Avila, later Duke de Avila e Bolama in the company of the new Civil Governor and Solicitor, José Silvestre Ribeiro to evaluate those events.

Dr. Kalley, through his government, requested compensation for the damage caused to the library and furnishings of his house: Meanwhile the Portuguese government was satisfied that the claim of 1574 sterling pounds or 7,000 reis was the correctly estimated damages. It is not known when the claim was paid, but we know that it was only a few years after the events that precipitated it, that Solicitator José Silvestre Ribeiro, Civil Governor of this district, confidentially informed the Lisbon Government on July 25, 1851, and by virtue of higher orders, regarding the claim of indemnification, opined that the claim should be satisfied according to the terms earlier formulated. (V. Proselitismo Protestante).

In addition to numerous articles regarding Kalley which were published in newspapers of the time, there also were published other pamphlets: Exposição de Factos (Exposition of Facts), by R.R. Kalley, Funchal, 1843, with a second printing in Lisbon, in 1875; An Account of the Recent Persecutions in Madeira, by Dr. Kalley, London, 1844, and Revista Histórica do Proselitismo Protestante Exercido na Ilha da Madeira, by Dr. Roberto Reid Kalley, Scottish doctor, by Manuel de Sant'Ana e Vasconcelos, Funchal 1845 and Perseguições dos Calvinistas da Madeira, by João Fernandes da Gama, S. Paulo (Brasil), 1896, of 218 pages.

The claim that Dr. Kalley made through his government, requesting a high indemnization, in virtue of the losses caused to his residence by the mutiny of the people, was an object of various debates in the local press, and in the mainland, and excited much interest in all of our nation and overseas. The diplomatic case took a long time to resolve, since only seven years after the unfortunate event did the Portuguese government satisfy Dr. Kalley's claim. Various incidents took place and some diplomatic notes were exchanged between the governments of Portugal and England, finally arriving at a friendly resolution. At that time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was the illustrious Madeiran Viscount of Atouguia, who detailed in an extensive report the causes of the claim, and from this important document the interesting information that follows was extracted.

"The administration of June 18, 1849 having expedited an order to the Civil Governor of Funchal for him to head all the investigations relating to Dr. Kalley's losses which he claimed had been caused by the popular uprising that took place in the same city of Funchal, the Magistrate completed his findings on July 25, 1851.

The current Administration, after an exhaustive examination of all relevant documents relating to this claim of the British Government, and especially of the information given by the well informed Civil Governor, (the Solicitator Jose Silvestre Ribeiro), I could not ignore that Dr. Kalley had a right to compensation for the losses that he suffered in the Island of Madeira, as a consequence of the revolt that took place on August 9, 1846.

However, the same administration not wanting to assume responsibility for awarding any amount of the claim, without starting new inquiries, confidentially ordered the Civil Governor that, when responding to the three inquiries that he had sent him, that he give his opinion about the claim in question at the same time. On November 3, 1851, that Magistrate, submitted the answer that had been demanded of him, adding, that, in his opinion, it referred to the last part of the information of July 25, 1851.

In this information, observed the Civil Governor, after assuring the Government, that he had given the utmost attention and employed all means possible to reach the truth with the greatest of scrupulousness and impartiality, that in the tumultuous and messy scene of August 9, 1846, when they had witnessed severe pillaging of Dr. Kalley's house, where obviously many items were damaged, broken, made unusable, or disappeared, on top of other objects that were burned.

Under these circumstances, the government of his Majesty having been insisted upon by the British Majesty to satisfy that claim, and not wanting to be judged of bad faith, decided to pay the amount claimed "…sete contos oitenta quatro mil seiscentos trinta e um reis," equivalent in pounds to 1574,7 schillings and 3 pencis exchanged at the rate of 4500 reis to a pound, where it was demonstrated that the mentioned, evaluated losses were in three installments, and to be satisfied in the periods agreed to.

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