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.
- Ministers and missionaries section of the FIBIS database
- Indian Missionary Directory and Memorial Volume 2587 names have been indexed from this book which records Protestant Missionaries who have served in India.
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: email@example.com
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Centre for Baptist History and Heritage website
Church Missionary Society (CMS)
The CMS can be contacted at:
- CMS, Watlington Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 6BZ
- Tel: (01865) 787400;
- Archivist E-mail: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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).
- “Church of Scotland World Mission Council”, 121 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4YN
- Tel: (0131) 225 5722
- E-mail: email@example.com
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Formed in 1857 by the Church of Scotland. See Church of Scotland missions entry above for sources.
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: email@example.com
Pre-1965 Archives for the SPG are at:
- Rhodes House Library, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RG
- Tel: (01865) 270908 or 270911
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Martyn (Missionary) Centre
Librarian (Jane Gregory)
Henry Martyn Centre, Westminster College, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0AA
Tel: (01223) 741088
Librarian: 07973 965430
Royal Asiatic Society
Librarian (Kathy Lazenbatt)
Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD
Tel: (020) 7388 4539 E-mail: email@example.com
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
- Faith and Family in South India by David Gore on the British Empire website
- Missionaries and Northern India by Tara van Brederode on the British Empire website
- 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.
- Rootsweb India Mailing List This post to the list recommends checking newspapers, including The Times [London]. For more information see our Newspapers article.
- Anglicanism on the Indian subcontintent, including Ceylon, from Project Canterbury. Contains biographies, online books
- “Missionary Activities of British in India” "First Phase", "Second Phase", "Third Phase", "Fourth Phase" from History of India by IndiaNetZone
- The CMS in Kerala
- The CMS church in Kotgahr, Himachal Pradesh, previously the Punjab, established 1844. Scroll down to the article “Legacy to cherish”
- Priests, Chaplains, Missionaries in Madras Presidency A section of a family history website in which 400 clerical names and related histories are listed.
- "Protestant Missionary Education in British India" by Steve Bishop Evangelical Quarterly 69:3 (1997) 245-266 Original pdf link
- “Leprosy in British India 1860-1940: Colonial Politics and Missionary Medicine” by Sanjiv Kakar Medical History 1996, 40, 215-230
- From criminals to caretakers : the Salvation Army in India, 1882-1914 by Emily A. Berry Northeastern University PhD thesis 2008
- American Presbyterian Missions in India
- Mennonite and Brethren in Churches in India
- Russians, North Americans and Telegus: the Mennonite Brethren mission in India, 1885-1975 by Peter Penner 1997 Limited View Google Books
- Sepia Prints: Memoirs of a Missionary in India by Viola Bergthold Wiebe, Marilyn Wiebe Dodge 1990 Limited View Google Books
- The Love of Christ hath constrained us : celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the American Mennonite mission, Dhamtari Central Province, India 1899-1949 Digital Collections Brigham Young University (BYU)
- Details of the book From Mission to Church: The Reformed Church in America Mission to India by Eugene P. Heideman 2001. No.38 of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America
- Records of the Woman's Union Missionary Society, an American based organisation. Scroll down for India. Billy Graham Center Archives
- Lutheran Missions in India
- History of Lutherans in India. Lutheranmissions.org
- The United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India is a Communion of eleven member churches, many established by historical missions. Includes brief history of the various missions.
- Basel Evangelical Missionary Society from Karnataka Northern Diocese, Church of South India
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had missions in India
- India gaebler.info. Includes
- "German Missions in India" mainly in German language but includes
- extracts from the book German Missions In British India Nationalism: Case And Crisis In Missions by Paul Von Tucher 1980 concerning internment of German missionaries during World War 2 at Premnagar near Dehra Dun, Purandhar, about 40kms south-east of Poona and Satara.
- "German Missions in India" mainly in German language but includes
- This India List post mentions the Plymouth Brethren in India. The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester has a Christian Brethren Collection , including information about missionaries
- Details of the Samuel Stearns Day collection, including biographical details of Samuel Stearns Day at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville Tennessee. Rev. Day was an American Baptist missionary in Southern India. Five documents from this collection including Baptist Affairs in Madras 1838 are available from Scribd.com. This link (Google Books) is about the formation of the Baptist Church in the Madras Pesidency under Rev Day
- Their Footprints Remain: Biomedical Beginnings across the Indo-Tibetan Frontier by Alex McKay International Institute for Asian Studies 2007, part of the Digital Academic Repository van de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Pdf file. Chapter 1 ( page 56) is called Missionary Medicine and the Rise of Kalimpong
- Dublin University Mission at Chota Nagpur (DUMCN) at Hazaribagh in Bihar (Society for the Propogation of the Gospel): Rare images of missionaries who worked in Raj India The Irish Times 16 February 2012; Details of the DUMCN and its archives at the RCB (Representative Church Body) Library, Dublin. Photographs ireland.anglican.org
- "Sex and Salvation: Modelling Gender on an Indian Mission Station" by Andrew Brown-May. The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) in the Khasi Hills of north-east India. html version original pdf from Evangelists of Empire?: Missionaries in Colonial History University of Melbourne 2008. The book Welsh missionaries and British imperialism: The empire of clouds in north-east India by Andrew May is due to be published in 2012 by Manchester University Press (Studies in Imperialism).
- South Asia Reading Guide , from John Roxborough’s Mission and Interpretation.
- "Pages from History: Documenting the flora of the Coromandel" by Dr A Raman Madras Musings July 16-31, 2009. Johann Peter Rottler Missionary (1749-1836). Scroll to the bottom of the page.
- Thomas Stevens by Jyotsna Kamat PhD
- Thomas Stephens Wikipedia
- Reminiscences of Missionary Work, by Worthington Jukes (1925) Project Canterbury website
- Laura and Charles Hope were Baptist medical missionaries from Australia, for most of the period 1893 to 1934 Australian DIctionary of Biography
- Mrs. Eve Ross, (as Miss Eve Croydon) was sent by the Methodist Society as a nurse in United Provinces, 1941-1946. See Nurse – Other Libraries and Archives for an interview to listen to, or to read the transcript, and details of her letters home.
- Adoniram Judson, Ann Judson-Pioneer American Baptist Missionaries to Burma Wholesomewords.org
- "Adoniram Judson And The Missionary Call" by Erroll Hulse 2007 html version original pdf
- The Scudder family of missionaries in India Wikipedia
- Cast a long shadow : a saga of three generations of a southern Illinois family, reaching from Williamson County to Belgaum, India by Ruth Childers Seamands , published 1994. The author was the wife of an American Methodist minister. Computer page 359 mentions her brief stay in India in 1941 before evacuation on a troop transport to the USA after the bombing of Pearl Harbour; computer page 394 onwards documents her life in India 1946-1959. BYU Digital Collections
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
- 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
- Bishop Wilson's journal letters, addressed to his family, during the first nine years of his Indian episcopate Archive.org
- The history of the Church Missionary Society, Volume 4 by Eugene Stock 1916 contains chapters on India from Chapter 14, page 137 Archive.org
- The Punjab and Sindh missions of the Church Missionary Society Giving an account of their foundation and progress for thirty-three years, from 1852 to 1884. Second edition, considerably enlarged, of a book entitled "Thirty years of missionary work of the C.M.S. in the Punjab and Sindh" by Robert Clark 1885 Archive.org
- Pennell of the Afghan frontier; the life of Theodore Leighton Pennell, M.D., B. SC., F.R.C.S. Kaisar-i-Hind medal for public service in India by Alice Maud Pennell 1914. Dr Pennell of the Bannu Medical Mission died at the age of 44.
- A memorial of the Futtehgurh mission and her martyred missionaries: with some remarks on the mutiny in India by the Rev. J. Johnston Walsh 1859 Google Books. Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (USA)
- History of the Missions of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in India by Rufus Anderson 1875 Archive.org
- Our Gold-mine: The Story of American Baptist Missions in India by Ada C. Chaplin 1879 Archive.org
- The India Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church [USA] by Rev J E Scott, 1906 Archive.org
- Jubilee Number 49th Annual Report of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church 1919 includes Chronology 1869-1919 and India Archive.org where there are numerous other Annual Reports
- A Glimpse of India being a collection of extracts from the letters Dr. Clara A. Swain, first medical missionary to India of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America 1909 Archive.org and Clara A. Swain, M.D.: first medical missionary to the women of the Orient by Mrs. Robert Hoskins. 1912 Archive.org
- The Khaki Kook Book: A Collection of a Hundred Cheap and Practical Recipes Mostly from Hindustan by Mary Kennedy Core 1917 Project Gutenberg. The introduction indicates the author was an American missionary. She also wrote articles in the Woman's missionary friend, Volumes 47-48 1915 and Volume 70 1937 published by the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
- Dr Ida: The Story Of Dr Ida Scudder Of Vellore by Dorothy Clarke Wilson 1959. Archive.org. Dr Ida Scudder was an American medical missionary who practised as a doctor in India from c 1900, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the Vellore Christian Medical College and Hospital