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Port of London
1887 – 1905

Reverend E. B. Bhose and the St Luke’s Lascar Mission

Reverend Ebenezer Bholanath Bhose was a member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Born in Bengal, he worked as a missionary in British Guiana before arriving in Britain. He was part of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

In 1874, he married Emma Green in Marylebone in London. They had four children: Agnes (born 1877), Mary (born 1879) and Cyril (born 1881), Mabel (born 1884).

In 1881 he was licensed to the curacy of St Andrews in Bethnal Green. In 1887, Bhose was appointed chaplain at St Luke's Lascar Mission in Victoria Docks. The vast majority of the sailors that came to St Luke’s were Muslim. In his mission reports, Bhose noted the observance of Muslim festivals by sailors in the ports. He also visited the 'floating population' of 'lascars' on the ships in the port.

Fluent in Bengali, Bhose also knew some other Indian vernaculars, which had been used to effect when he had worked among indentured Indians in British Guiana. At St Luke's Bhose was able to converse with a range of seafarers.

A sign on the door of St Luke's was written in Hindi saying 'This is the rest for Lascar seamen. If you should find the door closed, knock hard.'' The mission provided a resting place as well as a place for entertainment, with games and books for those who could read, and the relatively gentle introductions to Christianity with very few notable successes of conversion to Christianity.

Bhose remained chaplain at St Luke's until his death in 1905.


Barrett, D.W. 1902. Sketches of Church Life in the Counties of Essex and Hertfordshire (London: Skeffington & Son).

Lahiri, Shompa. 2000. ‘Patterns of Resistance: Indian Seamen in Imperial Britain’ in Anne Kershen (ed.), Language, Labour, Migration (Aldershot: Ashgate) pp. 155-178 .

Citation for this article

Sumita Mukherjee, 'Reverend E. B. Bhose and the St Luke’s Lascar Mission' Mariners: Race, Religion and Empire in British Ports 1801-1914,
Retrieved 22 February 2024