Maria Jane Burnley Hume

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Maria Jane Burnley Hume, also known as "Minnie Hume", was the only daughter Allan Octavian Hume. She married Ross Scott, an associate of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, the Founders of the Theosophical Society, during their early days in India.

Personal life

Maria Jane Burnley Hume was born on January 3, 1854 in Umballa, Bengal, India to Allan Octavian Hume and his wife Mary Anne.[1] She was known to her family as "Minnie." Not much is known of their family life, but the 1861 census shows Mary Anne and her daughter living in the St. Sidwell parish of Exeter in Devon, England.[2] They had possibly taken refuge there from the rebellions taking place in northern India at that time. The mother, Mary Anne Hume, died on March 30, 1890.[3]

In her later years, Minnie lived with her widowed father in England.[4] She died in 1927.

Theosophical Society involvement

Minnie does not seem to have been very active as a member of the Theosophical Society. However, she did apply for membership around April, 1979, and ten months later underwent an initiation ceremony, described by H. P. Blavatsky as a model of brotherhood:

Miss Hume, the daughter of the Lt. Governor of Punjab, is my guest since 3 days. I am bored with her to the utmost possibility. She is leaving today for London. She came especially to be initiated into the signs and the secret word, as she joined the Theos. Society 10 months ago. Yesterday night there was a very impressive ceremony, with all the staff of officials, presidents, secretaries, librarians and fellow-members. Only there were no neophytes. Miss Hume; Honorable Scott Ross, engineer; a Parsi, worshipper of the fire; Dewan (Prime Minister) of the Maharajah of Holkar (idol worshipper); and a poor Hindu merchant from Bombay [semicolons added for clarity]. Don't lose patience. This description has its purpose.

You see 5 different diametrically opposed personalities. Different socially, religiously, nationally and in their social status.

After the initiation Miss Hume, a proud lady who lived for 10 years in India, and according to her own statement has never touched the hand of any native, was the first to shake hands with the poor Hindu merchant, touching his cup and calling him brother. The idol worshipper, a real fanatic only three months ago, who regarded the very touch of a foreigner as polluting, calls brothers a Parsi fire worshipper and a merchant who lost the privileges of his caste because of his reformatory tendencies, takes tea with them, which is a great sin in the eyes of brahmins. Miss Hume, Christian follower of Swedenborg and Scott Ross also a Christian. Not long ago we had an initiation of a Mahommedan prince.[5]

After moving to England she became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.[6]

Marriage to Ross Scott

On December 28, 1881, she married Ross Scott. This marriage seems to have been a request from the Masters. The Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett states:

HPB was told by the Mahatmas to try to find a suitable wife for him — certainly one of the strangest things in the Letters.[7]

This is confirmed in a letter from Mme. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett. She asked the Masters to help Mr. Scott and "... was told to provide him with a wife — 'Miss Hume would do first rate for him.'"[8]

They had a son, Montague Allan Hume Ross Scott, who served with the Royal Engineers in India. Ross Scott died in 1908.

Encounter with Mahatma

One day Mrs. Scott was at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, in Bombay, along with her husband, Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, Damodar K. Mavalankar, M. Murad Ali Beg, and Bhavani Shankar. They all saw Master M. appearing into the room next to the one they were occupying and leaving a letter, before disappearing again.[9]

Notes

  1. India, Select Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947.
  2. 1861 England Census.
  3. Pall Mall Gazette (April 1, 1890), 6. See British Newspaper Archive.
  4. 1901 England Census.
  5. H. P. Blavatsky letter to family. February 21, 1880. Published in H. P. B. Speaks Volume I (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1950): 226.
  6. Ellic Howe, Fringe Masonry in England, 1870-1885 Holmes Publishing Group, 1996.
  7. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 244.
  8. A. Trevor Barker, The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett Letter No. 10c (Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1973), 15.
  9. First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appendix XIV at http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/app14.htm Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online