Pachaiyappa's College, Chennai is the offspring of a superlative act of private philanthropy of its progenitor,Pachaiyappa Mudaliar who had made himself a master financier and merchant prince when he was just 22 years old. Around this age many of us are in the threshold of our collegiate educational career. I strongly feel that the young graduates of this celebrated College must be inspired and motivated by the preciousness and large-heartedness of the benevolent founder.
This College had its genesis in the famous Will of Pachaiyappa Mudaliar. Pachaiyappa was born, posthumously in 1754, of poor parents. He grew up in poverty and rose by his own force of character to be the most opulent man of his time but who finally bequeathed all his wealth for the service of God and humanity. It was at Kumbakonam on March 22, 1794, having a premonition of his premature demise, that he drew up his renowned Will "dedicating, with full knowledge and hearty resignation, all his wealth, in the absence of any male issue, to the sacred service of Siva and Vishnu and to certain charities at various temples and places of pilgrimage, to the erection of religious edifies, to bounties to the poor, to seminaries of Sanskrit learning and to other objects of general benevolence".
In those days Wills were rare and obscure and their legitimacy, importance and significance were not correctly comprehended and appreciated. Exploiting this apathetic situation, successive executors of Pachaiyappa's Will flouted the provisions of the Will and embezzled large sums of money covered by the Will. On being apprised of this delinquent and reprehensible conduct, Sir Herbert Crompton, the then Advocate-General moved the Supreme Court of Madras which passed a decree upholding the validity of the Will and directing the person liable for performance of the charities to ensure religious services and also render and account of the funds with accumulated interest, amounting to many lakhs of Rupees.
However, the execution of this decree posed stupendous problems since the person against whom the decree was passed was a squander maniac and could remit only a small fraction of his enormous dues. Fortunately at his juncture, Mr. George Norton succeeded Sir Herbert Crompton as Advocate-General. This proved to be a shot in the arm for the ardent votaries of Pachaiyappa's benefactions. Norton, evincing extraordinary prudence and personal interest, transcending the requirements of his official designation, succeeded in salvaging a huge quantity of jewels and thereby realizing in respect of the claim a total sum of about 8 lakhs of Rupees.
On an application by Norton, the Supreme Court of Madras passed another decree in 1841, directing that the surplus money left after fulfillment of religious bequests for which one lakh of Pagodas or four and a half lakhs of Rupees was earmarked, ought to be utilized for establishing educational institutions in various parts of the Presidency, especially in the city of Madras. The general management of the charities, according to the Scheme of the Supreme Court, as directed by the Board of Revenue, became vested in a body of 9 Hindu Trustees, to translate into reality the benevolent services envisioned by the munificent philanthropist.