The church was named after John Anderson (1805–1855), a Scottish missionary who founded the mission of the Free Church of Scotland at Madras, India. He is believed to have established an educational institution in the name of General Assembly School in 1835 at Egmore. It was moved to George Town area in Chennai by 1838 and later went on to become the Free Church of Scotland’s central shrine in Chennai in 1845. The Madras Christian College was started at this campus in 1867, initially as a school and later became a college in 1876. The College was later moved to Tambaram in 1937 and only the Church operates from the campus.The Chapel was originally called College Chapel, but later came to be known as Anderson Church, after the death of Anderson.