Missionary

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Also see Chaplain

The first Englishman in India

The Jesuit missionary, Father Thomas Stevens, or Stephens, (c1549-1619) has been generally accepted as the first Englishman to arrive in India. He had studied in Rome and, having sailed on a Portuguese ship, settled in Goa 1579. There he learned the local languages and taught Christian doctrine to the local people.

As his father was a prominent merchant in London the information he sent home no doubt generated a lot of interest and raised awareness of the trading advantages in the East. In fact, it was not that long after, in 1600, that the Queen eventually granted a charter to the East India Company.

Moreover it is also documented that in 1583 Stevens sent a letter in Latin to his brother in Paris which described his missionary methods. He lived in Goa for over 40 years producing works in local languages . His masterpiece was the Christian Purana , an epic poem based on the life of Jesus, written in the local Konkani dialect of Marathi. This was all the more ingenious as he had to adapt European script to embrace Indian language.

Charter Act 1813

Missionary activity in the areas of India controlled by the East India Company was finally permitted with the passing of the Charter Act 1813, sometimes called the East India Company Act 1813, as described from page 75 of The government of India; a brief historical survey of parliamentary legislation relating to India by Sir Courtenay Ilbert 1922 Archive.org. Before that it had been forbidden by the EIC, who did not wish to wish to interfere with the religious convictions of the Indians in case the Company’s trade was jeopardised.

Prior to 1813 the most significant European Protestant missionary activity had occurred in the Danish enclaves at Tranquebar and Serampore.

FIBIS resources


Protestant Missionary Societies in India and their archives

Christian missionaries were usually sponsored in India by European organisations, such as the German Lutherans or missionary societies from the United Kingdom. Of the latter, there was a wide variety from non-denominational through to Scottish Presbyterians, the Church of England societies, the Baptists, and those who now come under the United Reform Church. Smaller numbers of missionaries came from America and British colonies such as Australia and New Zealand. The archives of these missionary bodies, often rich sources of names, careers, family details and correspondence, are accessible but variously held in libraries or other repositories depending on the society. The structures of societies differ widely, but most have an archivist, and he/she may be a useful first contact. Below are details of some of these, giving for each its current name and location and where its archives are kept. Other Indian missionary sources which may provide useful background have been added.

Baptist Missionary Society

Present title is the “BMS World Mission”. Contact details:

PO Box 49, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 8XA
Tel: (01235) 517700, Archives: Tel: (01235) 517626 , E-mail: slinnell@bmsworldmission.org
BMS World Mission website

Initially consult Historical Society website. Main Archive (Angus Library) is at:

Centre for Baptist History, Regent’s Park College, Pusey Lane, Oxford, OX1 2LB
Tel: (01865) 288142
Archivist: julian.lock@regents.ox.ac.uk
Centre for Baptist History and Heritage website

Church Missionary Society (CMS)

The CMS can be contacted at:

CMS, Watlington Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 6BZ
http://www.cms-uk.org
Tel: (01865) 787400;
Archivist E-mail: ken.osborne@cms-uk.org

The main archive for the CMS is at:

Special Collections, Main Library, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT
Tel: (0121) 414 5838/39
E-mail: s.j.worrall@bham.ac.uk

For post-1960 archives contact the Crowther Centre at CMS, Oxford, Tel: (01865) 787400.

Church of Scotland Missions

Foreign Mission Committee formed in 1824. First missionary commissioned to India in 1829. In 1843 the Church of Scotland missionaries in India, with once exception, broke away and joined the Free Church of Scotland. In 1929 the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland merged and records were consolidated. The work in India had foreshadowed this union, with most congregations uniting to form the Presbyterian Church in India in 1903.

A useful overview of the various Presbyterian denominations' missionary work in India is found in chapters two and four of The Scottish churches' work abroad by JH Morrison (Edinburgh: Clarke, 1927).

Contact details:

“Church of Scotland World Mission Council”, 121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
Tel: (0131) 225 5722
E-mail: worldmission@cofscotland.org.uk
World Mission Council web pages

Eastern Himalayan Mission

Founded in 1870 by the Church of Scotland. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.

London Missionary Society (LMS)

Originally called the Missionary Society. Established in 1795. Interdenominational, but strongly Congregationalist.

Present title: “Council for World Mission”. Contact details:

CWM, Ipalo House, 32-34 Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 2DB
Tel: (020) 7222 4214
E-mail: council@cwmission.org.uk
http://www.cwmission.org

The CWM archives are at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London. Contact:

The Library (LMS Archives), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Tel: (020) 7898 4180
E-mail: docenquiry@soas.ac.uk
http://www.soas.ac.uk/library

A few organisations outside of the UK hold sections of the LMS archives on microfiche. See LMS entry on Mundus for holding bodies.

Methodist Missionary Society

For the archives, also at SOAS, contact:

Lance Martin, Library (Methodist Archives), School of Oriental & African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Tel: (020) 7898 4148
E-mail: lm37@soas.ac.uk
http://www.methodist.org.uk

Panjab Mission

Formed in 1857 by the Church of Scotland. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.

Santal Mission

Established in 1870 by the Free Church of Scotland. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.

Scottish Churches Mission

Formed in Calcutta in 1908 incorporating the local work of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.

Scottish Missionary Society

Known for a time as the Edinburgh Missionary Society. Founded 1796, nondenominational Presbyterian. First missionary sent to India in 1822. The Society ceased in 1835, when its work was transfered to the Church of Scotland. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG)

Church of England mission founded 1701 by Royal Charter. First missionary sent to India in 1820.

For concise biographical information on ordained missionaries in India and related territories check the relevant years of Crockford's clerical directory : a directory of the clergy of the Church of England, the Church of Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Ireland. (See the review in Churches and missions reading list for more information on this publication).

For ordained missionaries active prior to 1835 check The Clergy of the Church of England Database (CCEd).

Present title: “USPG – Anglicans in World Mission”. Contact:

200 Great Dover Street, London SE1 4YB
Tel: (020) 7378 5678
E-mail: archive@uspg.org.uk
http://www.uspg.org.uk

Pre-1965 Archives for the SPG are at:

Rhodes House Library, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RG
Tel: (01865) 270908 or 270911
E-mail: rhodes.house.library@bodley.ox.ac.uk;

Post-1965 Archives are at USPG, London.

United Reform Church

This modern title (website) includes English Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The latter often served with the LMS. Further information from the United Reform Church History Society at Westminster College, Cambridge; Tel: (01223) 741084. Archives for the English Presbyterian’s are at Westminster College, Cambridge; archives for the Congregationalists’ are at SOAS (see LMS above).

Other Indian Missionary sources

Indian Institute Library

Department of Oriental Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford, OX1 3BG
Tel: (01865) 277082
E-mail: indian.institute@bodley.ox.ac.uk or gillian.evison@bodley.ox.ac.uk
http://www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/bodley/library/rooms/iirr

Henry Martyn (Missionary) Centre

Librarian (Jane Gregory)
Henry Martyn Centre, Westminster College, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0AA
Tel: (01223) 741088
Librarian: 07973 965430
E-mail: jg230@cam.ac.uk
http://www.martynmission.cam.ac.uk

Royal Asiatic Society

Librarian (Kathy Lazenbatt)
Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD
Tel: (020) 7388 4539 E-mail: library@royalasiaticsociety.org
http://www.royalasiaticsociety.org

Mundus

A web-based guide to more than four hundred collections of overseas missionary materials held in UK. http://www.mundus.ac.uk

Missionary family stories on the web

Schools

  • Church Missionaries’ Children’s Home. This school in England was run by the Church Missionary Society for the children of missionaries. It was founded in 1850 at Highbury, London and moved in 1887 to Limpsfield, Surrey. Further details in The history of the Church Missionary Society Volume 4, page 494 by Eugene Stock 1916 Archive.org. Between the period 1907-1916 the school became known as St Michael's Limpsfield. Opening in 1887 Archiseek.com. Postcard 1907 TheWeald.com. The England and Wales censuses show the children at the school at the census dates.

Recommended Reading

  • May, Andrew - Welsh Missionaries and British Imperialism: The empire of clouds in north-east India published 2012.
A review of this book by David Macadam is contained in FIBIS Journal Number 30 (Autumn 2013) page 48
  • O’Connor, Daniel - The Chaplains of the East India Company, 1601-1858, published 2012.
A review by Richard Morgan of this book is contained in FIBIS Journal Number 27 (Spring 2012), pages 53-54.
  • Pears, Walford - Schreyvogel's Mission: Lindau to Trichinopoly Pub 2011.
Daniel Schreyvogel was a missionary in Tranquebar from 1803 to 1826. A review of this book is contained in FIBIS Journal number 28.

External links

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These links mention missions from Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden , Norway and America.

Historical Books Online

  • The History of Christianity in India: from the Commencement of the Christian Era by James Hough Volume 1, 1839 Volume 2, 1839 Volume 4, 1845 Volume 5, 1860 Google Books
  • History of the Missions of the Free Church of Scotland in India and Africa 
by Robert Hunter 1873 Archive.org
  • Indian Missionary Directory and Memorial Volume by Rev B. H. Badley of the American Methodist Mission. This Directory provides details of Protestant missions throughout India and biographical information about the missionaries. Archive.org
  • The Church Missionary Atlas- Church Missionary Society published 1862. Contains a section on India, with maps from page 21, including a section on the languages of India Also includes an Appendix of missionaries’ names, with some biographical details. Google Books
  • The Church in Madras : being the History of the Ecclesiastical and Missionary Action of the East India Company in the Presidency of Madras by Rev Frank Penny 1904 Archive.org
Volume 1 In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Volume 2 1805 to 1835 Volume 3 1835 to 1861