George Uglow Pope was born on 24 April 1820 in Bedeque, Prince Edward Island in Canada. His father was John Pope (1791-1863), of Padstow, Cornwall, a merchant who became a missionary, who emigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1818, and Catherine Uglow (1797-1867), of Stratton, north Cornwall. The family moved to Nova Scotia, St. Vincent’s before returning to Plymouth, England in 1826 where John Pope became a prosperous merchant and ship-owner. George Uglow Pope’s and his younger brother William Burt Pope studied at the Wesleyan schools in Bury and Hoxton and at the age of fourteen George joined missionary service in southern India.
He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Pope started studying Tamil as a teenager in England and during the voyage to India and Pope later turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. In 1841 he was ordained by the Church of England and he married Mary Carver, daughter of another Anglican priest. Pope worked in the Tirunelveli region where he also interacted with other missionaries like Christian Friedrich Schwartz. In 1845, Mary died at Tuticorin and Pope moved to Madras. He married Henrietta Page, daughter of G. van Someren and they left for England in 1849. During this period he worked with many figures in the Oxford Catholic movement including such as Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, Archbishop Trench, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop John Lonsdale, E. B. Pusey, and John Keble.
Returning to Tanjore in 1851, teaching at St Peter’s School, he found himself in conflict with other missionaries. In 1855, a Tamil priest Vedanayakam Shastri who was a disciple of Schwartz and a poet in the court of Maharaja Serfoji was flogged publicly resulting in a separation of Tamil church free of the Anglican church leading to the resignation of Pope. He founded a seminary at Sawyerpuram for training Anglican Tamil clergy but this too ran into trouble and he decided to move to Ootacamund in 1859. Here he founded a grammar school for European children (which ran from 1859 to 1870) which is now home to the Government Arts School and Stonehouse. The grammar school at Stonehouse cottage was opened by the Bishop of Madras on 2 July 1858 with Pope as Principal. The school moved elsewhere as the building was sold to the Trustees of the Lawrence Asylum in March 1859. Stonehouse cottage was then used to house the male asylum inmates and the Grammar school moved to new premises in Lovedale on 1 April 1869. He also founded Holy Trinity Church in Ooty.Pope was referred to with respect by the Tamilians as Pope Aiyar.
Pope became famous for his strictness and in 1870 he was made principal of Bishop Cotton’s School in Bangalore. He was also the first pastor of the All Saints Church at Bangalore. In 1881, Pope left India and settled in Oxford where he made a mark as a lecturer in Tamil and Telugu (1884). He received an honorary MA in 1886 and a Gold Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1906.
He died on 11 February 1908. He delivered his last sermon on May 26, 1907. Pope was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, located in Jericho, central Oxford, England. After his death, his second wife, Henrietta, and two daughters received pension. Henrietta died on 11 September 1911 and is buried beside Pope. Three of their sons continued to work in India. John Van Someren Pope worked on education in Burma, Arthur William Uglow Pope served as a railway engineer in India and China; while Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Henry served in the medical service as a professor of ophthalmology at the Madras Medical College.