James Henry Wapshare



The Ouchterlony Valley

        A list of the estate names is included on the Henry page above.

Henry and Mary had a son, James, born on 15 April 1872, I imagine he was about 15 when this tiger photograph was taken in the Nilgiris, perhaps this was his first kill.

  James’ father Henry died in 1900 when he was 61 but his mother, Mary, lived until 1911. James was married to Nellie in 1905 and a silver tray was --

 Presented to J. H. Wapshare Esqr. ,Manager, on the occasion of  his wedding by the native employees of the        Ouchterlony Valley18 Aug 1905- 

   He was 33 when he married 5 years after his father’s death.

 James married Ellen Hunt Marriotte and the Gayton Park property was a wedding gift from his mother, they don’t seem to have lived there very much. Nellie was French and the daughter of
 a colonel in the French Army active in Burma, she had two sisters, one lived to be 97 and the other married a Col. Bartholomew who later became an aid to King George V. Gayton Park had belonged to Richard (about 45 in 1905) but he had returned it to the family together with its 80 acres when he moved further up the hill to Doda Betta with his wife. Nellie was fond of painting.
           Chuck Wapshare (Henry) was originally the manager of an estate (working owners were called managers). He bought Helen Estate for 15000R and paid 15000R for George Ouchterlony’s share of the rest. James inherited his mother Mary’s share after she died and the remaining Ochterlony family went to live in the UK. James therefore had full control of the estate which was still on a perpetual lease from the Raja of Nilambur at Rs 2020 per annum.


James with Dorothy

James and Nellie had four children that survived infancy,

Violet, or Queenie born in 1906, Dorothy, or Dot born in 1908, James Henry, or Bob in 1911 and Edward Richard in 1912.

There was talk that good things had been done around the 1925 period. A Lord Linlithgow and the Wapshares owned half of Ooty and convalescent homes were built in Ooty and at Wellington Barracks. Fernhill Palace was sold to the Maharaja Baroda for a token R500.

So the estates continued to be developed, first as tented dwellings and then permanent bungalows were constructed for the managers. A rest house was built in Ooty called Rosemont where the managers could stay and enjoy the facilities of the Ooty Club next door where Neville Chamberlain (not the politician) had invented snooker. There were 17 suites and 17 acres of recreation for riding, swimming and playing squash and tennis among the chickens.


Rosemont in Ooty

  Rosemont was featured in the BBC documentary in 1973 with Queenie who played bridge at the club. Dot and Queenie eventually moved into Rosemont and ran it as a guesthouse. When the valley was lost in 1932 James became ill and Dot cared for him until he died in 1937. In 1939 at the outbreak of war Dot turned the property into a rest house for the army with tents on the lawns a manager Dorlai Sanjipillai was employed by the family. Dot died in 1970 and by1982 the lawyers Gonselves became very concerned about Queenie being at Rosemont alone.


                    About an hours drive from Ooty on the road to Gudalore and just before the village of Naduvattam  there is a church on the right, where Mrs Wapshare laid the foundation stone and donated and repaired the organ which came from Milan in 1873. Close by is the Compton Estate which was until 1999 the home of Bea Wapshare and on the far side of the village on what was the Ochterlony Tea Estate is now the Royal Valley with Ochterlony Bungalow ( or Tin Bungalow ) lying some way into the estate on the edge of the escarpment.


  Ochterlony House  -- or Tin Bungalow - at Naduvattam

                             The house was built by Charles on the edge of the escarpment with zinc sheets brought from the UK, the roof has been subsequently tiled. It has a view across to the far peaks perhaps to what was once called the Wapshare Peak.       The estate was called the Ochterlony Tea Estate and overlooked the OchterlonyValley.

                                    Part of the RoyalValley Estate now. This was for years the Wapshare family home and where Bea first went to stay in the Nilgiris in 1952 after her marriage to Edward and before moving in to the Burnside Estate. The Compton Estate at Naduvattam had also been a part of the Valley. During most of the year the family lived at New Hope in the Valley but in the hot weather they would move to Tin Bungalow. Nellie had also been taken there as a bride.

 Mrs Wapshare wanted to buy back one of the estates when she was widowed and paid R50,000 for it. She brought  Marriotte money  from the UK and bought the Ochterlony Tea Estate, Burnside and Chinese Hills, so a year or so after James died in 1937, Nellie moved back into Tin Bungalow with Queenie and the two boys, it had 780 acres. After she died the property was sold to the Maharajah of Mysore as Dot and Queenie needed the money. He built the tea factory there.  Nellie died at Compton in 1960 aged 85 and she is buried at St Thomas’ Church. The Ochterlony Valley became the RoyalValley when the maharajah bought it from Pierce Leslie after it had been lost in the credit crunch.. The RoyalValley estate was eventually bought by Messrs Chectiers (marawarias) and the factory was sold to another marawarai, Kantilal Jain who had an auction house in Coonor.

Children at Tin Bungalow clockwise from Dot on left.

                Chinese Hills Estate

Chinese Hills is a property along the road to Gudalore and about halfway down the hill to the Valley, it is on an escarpment and has an uninterrupted view to the north west. This was where Bob lived and died, growing tea and coffee at this lower altitude. There are claims that he was married.   


             The first estate along the valley on the road from Gudalore, This estate was given to Edward by gift deed in 1934. His wife Bea continued to live at Burnside for ten years after Edward died in 1974, but things became difficult with Tamil Celonese moving in and building bamboo houses on the estate. Bea would patrol with a gun in the evenings.  Edward’s grave still maintained there and we had tea with the manager. The cook had been there since Edward had lived their and the manager was thrilled by the arrival of a king cobra on the estate which they enjoyed watching as it went after rabbits. Edward had shot a king cobra on sight.


                            Was built by the Wapshares but became very run down. During the war it was occupied by a German spy who paid rent to Mrs Wapshare. She left the property to the four children when she died in 1960. The estate has fifty acres and when Dot left no will, each of the other three siblings inherited one third. Margaret Golliland lived at Compton, she was the widow of a colonel who was Master of the Household in Bombay. She lived here for seven years and brought her own butler. Bob was living here at the same time and used her chairs to support his honey draining. When Bob sold his share he retained his right of residence, he used to spend most of his time working at Chinese Hills estate while he was living at Compton. In 1982 Bob sold his share for R30,000, he wanted to sell 12 Acres for 5 Lakhs but Bea only paid 3 lakhs for his share.  Bob then moved into Chinese Hills Estate. Bea had bought two thirds of Compton and she had many alterations made, she decided to move in from Burnside in 1983 to oversee the work being done. When Queenie died in 1990 she left her share to Bea. 

 Several other properties had been in the family hands including The Monarch Hotel and Government House but that was in previous generations.

The Lost Valley

James Wapshare brought all of his money out from the UK to finance the estates but the property was in the hands of managing agents. When the overdraft reached 8 lakhs the (Scottish) Imperial Bank of India insisted on outside management. The managing agents were Matheson Basaque from Coonor, they were supposed to oversee the estates and to reverse the loss. Instead a further 2lakhs were lost. Messrs Pierce Lesleys from Calicut took over and increased the debt. The bank then refused more credit and their lawyers foreclosed on the Wapshares who were not permitted to sell any land and instead lost most of their property in the action in the Sessions Court.
James set fire to furniture in the garden when the house was taken by the bank. ‘they won’t get that’ he said. The decline in tea prices and problems with landslips from 1928 led to the decline of the profit making OchterlonyValley. The estate was taken by the Imperial Bank to cover debts of a mere 8 lakhs in 1937, a year in which the Chinese Hills estate was bought and the old man died. As the debt increased to 10 lakhs, a court of appeal in Madras reversed the previous judgement in favour of the Wapshares. In 1967, Bea defended the case in the High Court in Delhi on behalf of Queenie. She met and appealed to Mrs Gandi , but the case was lost , she claimed, when their lawyer turned up late in the court. By then too many years had passed. 

   Wapshares (James was known as the old man) had spent 10.5 lakhs from the investment in opening up new land and where the valley of 22000acres was worth 19 lakhs only 14.5 was offered. Only 7000 lakhs were collected by the old man.( PL paid 10.5L to bank & refused costs 10500R The Wapshares always ended up paying the costs and Mr Rahman was paid three lakhs for his advocacy at Ooty, Madras and Delhi.
The old man had taken the decision to open up the valley at a time when prices were low during the depression. He was a good planter but a bad administrator and had but no one made a fight strange ideas about the future of his children. Helen estate was the last to go. There were also 15 acres of land and the Feroak Coffee works at Mamalee, 11miles from the sea at Calicut with its own wharf to ship coffee ( the family would spend time there). The Scottish ‘Imperial bank of England’ took control with Pierce Lesley management but no one put up a fight as they had all lost hope. The family moved out in 1932 and PL took over

 An appeal was made in the High Court in Madras in 1954, a bench of three judges said the Wapshares had been hoodwinked and awarded one and a half lakhs compensation plus some of the estates to be decided.  This from a total of thirteen estates on which the rosewood alone was worth several crore. 
 Legal fight against the Meraweries (money lenders) continued and having won the action in the High Court in front of a bench of judges in Madras, the Wapshares were awarded one and a half lakhs plus land. The banks appealed right away and stopped any payment until the case was heard years later. A Mr Bogoria ended up with an estate. He was of the same name as one of the judges which Bea thought was suspicious.  Bea and Edward once asked him to lend them a generator and he said it would cost them 15000R.
  The old man was very stubborn and was guided by lawyers, he lost heart and died at the age of 65. His widow then brought the last of their money out from the UK to buy the Ouchterlony Tea Estate, Burnside and Chinese Hills.

In 1969 Pierce Lesley had the case was taken to the Supreme Court in Delhi.  Bea went with a local lady M.P. for the Nilgiris, Mrs Akamma-Devi who was of the Bagada tribe and was the first tribal woman to go to a university and she became an MP. Mr Chandra Shekhar said that he would see them through but then Mrs Ghandi, at a meeting in her house said that they could not help. The case fell apart when their lawyer failed to show up in Delhi on time. The lawyer was VP Ramen and he represented the family in both the Supreme and the High Court, he went on to become Advocate General for India. In the end the case was lost because it ran out of time under the Statute of Limitations.

Today there are a lot of sympathetic comments on the internet and the case is required reading for management trainees. There are many lessons to be learnt from the Wapshare situation.

                      www.sharadshahanco.com  Company Law  Landmark Judgments

M/s Pierce Leslie & Co Ltd vs Ms Violet Ouchterlony Wapshare & Others.      Citation AIR 1969 SC 843  . Issue property of dissolved company

Brief Facts: The question, arising for consideration, was whether the plaintiffs as shareholders of a wound up company, were entitled to maintain a suit for recovery of its assets.

Held: The shareholders and creditors of a dissolved company cannot maintain any action for recovery of assets. The law of India is different from American law. There is no statutory provision vesting the property of a dissolved company in a trustee or having the effect of abrogating the law of escheat. The shareholders and creditors of a dissolved company cannot be regarded as its heirs and successors. On dissolution of a company, its properties, if any, vest in the government.


M/s Pierce Leslie and Co Ltd.  In C.A. No 1174 of 1965

Miss Violet Ouchterlony Wapshare and Others. In C.A. No 1935 of 1966

M/s Pierce Leslie and Co Ltd. And Others. In C.A. No 1935 of 1966 .. Dec 20 1968

           Issue Trust Act  (2of 1882) Section 88