William Carey

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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

an eminent Baptist missionary, was born Aug. 17, 1761, at Paulersbury, Northamptonshire, England. H-is father was clerk of the parish, and master of a free school, in which his son received his elementary education. Having early embraced Baptist principles, he was in 1783 immersed in the river Nen, and afterward became pastor of a Baptist church in the village of Moulton. Here he was a diligent student, not only of theology, but also of natural history, botany, and modern languages. In 1787 he removed to Leicester, where he had every prospect of a useful and happy life. But his mind, long occupied with the duty of missionary exertions among the heathen, would not allow him to indulge the prospect of remaining at home. The cause of missions was his favorite theme; and having, at the urgent recommendation of his friends, Fuller, Ryland, and Sutcliffe of Olney, directed public attention to the subject through the press, steps were forthwith taken to commence practical operations among the Baptists.

Chiefly through his exertions the Baptist Missionary Society was formed, Oct. 2,1792. Mr. John Thomas, who had already spent some years in Bengal, and was imbued with a similar enthusiasm in the cause of missions to the heathen, had recently returned home. Carey volunteered for India, associated Thomas with him, and embarked June 13, 1793, accompanied by his wife and whole family, Mrs. Carey's sister having consented also to form one of the emigrants. Arrived in India, all their property was lost on the river Hooghly. Thus left destitute in a strange land, Carey retained unshaken faith in the providence of God. In 1794 he was employed by a Mr. Udney in an indigo factory, and was brought into close contact, in this sphere, with the natives. Here he spent five years, preaching, studying the Bengalee and Sanscrit languages, and establishing schools. Carey, having made satisfactory inquiries, resolved to establish his head-quarters at Mudnabattv. The home society sent out two pious and excellent laborers Marshman and Ward the former of whom had been a teacher, the latter a printer. On their arrival at Calcutta in 1799, the Indian government refused permission to increase the missionary force at Mudnabatty, and accordingly forced them to break up that establishment at a great loss to their funds.

Mr. Carey, and his friends fixed their residence at the Danish settlement of Serampore, where, under the patronage of the governor, who was most friendly to the object of their mission, they enjoyed a tide of prosperity beyond their most sanguine expectations, and were placed in the center of a much more numerous population, among whom they were free to carry on their work of Christian instruction. In 1801 the marquis of Wellesley, who founded the College of Fort William for instructing the youth in the Company's service in the vernacular languages of India, offered Carey the professorship of Bengalee. After considerable hesitation, and satisfactory evidence that the duties of this situation would not interfere with his missionary labors, Carey accepted the situation; and though the teaching of the Sanscrit and Mahratta languages, being subsequently devolved on the occupier of this chair, added greatly to the routine of his duties, he continued for thirty years the whole period of its existence to contribute to the usefulness and the fame of that institution. He now formed the acquaintance of learned pundits from all parts of India, through whom, in the course of years, he was enabled to translate the Scriptures into all the principal languages of Northern Hindostan. For the students in the college he had to compile grammars of the languages he taught them, and after many years he completed his voluminous Bengalee dictionary.

All his philological researches were made subservient to the design of translating the Sacred Oracles into the vernacular languages of India. "The versions of the sacred Scriptures, in the preparation of which be took an active and laborious part, included the Sanscrit, Hindee, Brijbhassa, Mahratta, Bengalee, Voriga, Telinga, Kurnata, Maldivian, Gujarattee, Buloshee, Pushtoo, Punjabee or Shikh, Kashmeer, Assam, Burman, Pali or Magudha, Tamul, Cingalese, Armenian, Malay, Hindostanee, and Persian. In six of these tongues the whole Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were printed and circulated; the New Testament appeared in twenty-three languages, besides various dialects, in which smaller portions of the sacred text were printed. The whole number of languages is stated at forty, and we are probably below, the truth when we state that the Serampore press, under the auspices chiefly of Dr. Carey, was honored to be the instrument, in about thirty years, of rendering the Word of God accessible to three hundred millions of human beings, or nearly one third of the population of the world." He died June 9, 1834. See Life of Carey, by Eustace Carey (Lond. 1837, 2d ed. 12mo); Belcher, Biography of Carey (Phila. 1855, 18mo); Jarnieson, Cyclop. of Biography, 103; Marshman, Lives of Carey, Marshman, and Ward (Lond. 1859, 2 vols. 8vo); Christian Review, 1:531.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

Celebrated Baptist missionary, born in Northamptonshire; founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, and its first missionary; founded the mission at Serampore and directed its operations, distributing Bibles and tracts by thousands in native languages, as well as preparing grammars and dictionaries; was 29 years Oriental professor in the College of Fort William. Calcutta (1761-1834).

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