Within the time period of 1790s to 1820, the Clapham Sect gathered under the leadership of William Wilberforce and Charles Grant in London. A second evangelical band under Reverend Charles Simeon (1759-1836), Vicar of Holy Trinity at the University of Cambridge, was sent along with numerous evangelical missionaries to India. In 1786, Rev. David Brown (1763-1812) was posted to Calcutta. In 1795, Reverend Claudius Buchanan (1766-1815) was assigned in Bengal. In 1805, Reverend Henry Martyn (1781-1812) took a Company chaplainship in Bengal. Also a Simeon follower, Reverend Daniel Corrie (1777-1837) went to Agra in 1813, where he established the beginning of the Anglican Church in northern India. In Madras Simeon's recruits included Reverend Marmaduke Thompson (1796-1851) and Reverend Charles Church (d.1822), who in 1820 founded the Madras Auxiliary Bible Society. These chaplains combined the ministry to the English population with missionary endeavours to the Indians.
On 2nd October 1792, in Kettering, England, the Baptist Missionary Society came into existence under the auspices of Reverend William Carey (1761-1834), Reverend Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) and Reverend John Ryland (1753-1825). Reverend Carey volunteered to serve as the Society's first missionary to be assigned to India. He arrived in Calcutta on November 14, 1793.
In 1793, when negotiations of the renewal of the East India Company's charter were under way, William Wilberforce attempted to insert a special clause. It would allow missionaries, who had been excluded up to this time, the right to enter India. He failed as the measure was struck down in the House of Commons during its third reading. It was not for another twenty years until the "pious clause" appeared in the Company's charter that missionaries would formally be allowed into India. Religious activities by the British started to receive a solid impetus with such noble-hearted missionaries.
In 1798, the London Missionary Society sent its first missionary, Reverend Nathaniel Forsyth (d.1816) to India. Due to the Company's hostility toward missionaries, he settled in the Dutch settlement of Chunchura, up the Hooghly from Calcutta.
On 12th April 1799, the laity of the Church of England and a group of Evangelical clergy founded the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East.
Within the extended period stretching from 1800 to 1840, the London Missionary Society established the Gosport Missionary Seminary. It served as a centre of missionary training and scriptural teaching for new missionaries of whom the majority went to India. In 1825, the Church Missionary Society initiated its school at Islington. Later the Bristol Baptist College and in 1840 the Bedford Missionary Training College began to prepare missionaries for placement in India.
On 9th January 1800, under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Society, Reverend William Carey established a Danish settlement in Serampore, north of Calcutta. He was joined here by Reverend Joshua Marshman (1768-1837) and Reverend William Ward (1769-1823). The Danish locale offered an important shelter in the face of the British East India Company's opposition to the presence of Christian missions to the Indians.
In 1804, the British and Foreign Bible Society took up the challenge of distributing the Scriptures as widely as possible and in as many languages as possible throughout the world, to include India. British effort towards consolidating Christianity and its associated activities in the second phase included severe attempts at their religion.
During 1806, the Indian mutiny at Vellore provoked a greater religious tension between the Company and the Evangelicals. The Company tried and failed to block entry of two new Baptist missionaries, to terminate public preaching among the Indians and to halt translations of the Scriptures (The Bible). A bitter critical treatise against Islam published by the Serampore Press, threatened the transfer of the press to Company control in Calcutta. In England, the presence of missionaries in India also received critical attacks. The attacks subsequently called for strong support from Reverend Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) and Lord Teignmouth (1751-1834), as they addressed the "poor" character of Hinduism and the consequent need for missionaries.
In 1807, the Serampore Press published the Persian Pamphlet, "An Address to Mussulmands....." which possessed a disturbing and abusive attack on Islam. The controversy passed to London, where it stirred up various religious interest groups and the Board of Control. Initially the Government of India restricted the Press to printing and distributing Bibles in Bengali and to have all other publications submitted for review. By August 16 1808, Lord Minto (1751-1814), Governor-General of India, had released the missionaries from most restraints prior to his receipt of the Board of Control's rebuke for his censorship measures.
In 1807, in Calcutta, David Brown (1763-1812), Reverend Claudius Buchanan (1766-1815), Reverend Henry Martyn (1781-1812) and Reverend George Udny formed a Correspondence Committee for the Church Missionary Society. The Committee supported the translation of the Scriptures and sponsored an Indian reader, Abdul Masih. Abdul became the first Church Missionary Society agent in India at a time when the Company forestalled English missionaries.
In 1808, Reverend William Carey completed a Sanskrit translation of the New Testament. This was followed by similar translations in Oriya, Hindi and Marathi in 1813, Punjabi in 1815, Assamese in 1819 and Gujarati in 1820. Religious and missionary activities by the British in India evidenced itself by such solemn efforts on the part of the 'aliens'.
On 22nd July 1813, the Crown gave its assent to the East India Act which provided for the admission of Christian missionaries into India. It also established a bishop for India and three archdeacons to be posted to Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. In consequence of this act, the first representatives of the Church Missionary Society arrived at Calcutta in 1815.
In November 1815, Rt. Reverend Thomas Fanshaw Middleton (1769-1822) arrived in India as the first Bishop of Calcutta. Other positions also created by the Charter Act of 1813, were Reverend Henry Lloyd appointed Archdeacon of Calcutta, Reverend George Barnes of Bombay and Reverend John Mousley of Madras.
Missionaries in the Calcutta region gathered from the time of 1816, in what became the Monthly Missionary Prayer Meeting. It was composed of all available Protestant missionaries. Roman Catholics were strictly excluded. By 1831, this gathering had become known as the Calcutta Missionary Conference.
In 1817, the Church Missionary Society began to publish its Missionary Papers. Initially they included many articles attacking the East India Company's position of supporting various great Hindu festivals through the collection of the pilgrim tax, the practice of swinging Indians on hooks and the sacrifice of Indian widows by sati. These stray incidents started to prove that British missionary activities to India were not merely mass conversion, but a serious endeavour to religious outlook.
The Government of Madras in the same year, passed into law the Regulation VII, which gave to the Madras Board of Revenue the responsibility and control of the Indian religious and sacred institutions in the Presidency. This included the administration of monies, land, temple structures and supporting infrastructure. During the negotiations over the Charter Act of 1833 renewal, pressure was exerted to disestablish the Company from this involvement. In 1843, the Company's withdrawal finally came to light.
In 1818, the Baptist Missionary Society founded the Serampore College for the purpose of training Indians for the Christian missions. In the same year, Reverend John Clark Marshman (1794-1877) began publication of the monthly periodical, Dig-Darshan, or The Signpost, in English and Bengali. Its contents were both educational and religious content. Bishop Middleton in the meantime launched plans for the establishment of Bishop's College at Shibpur, near Calcutta. Its purpose embraced the teaching of Indian Christians in the doctrines of the Church of England and for the grooming of preachers, catechists and schoolmasters. The work of construction began on December 15, 1820 and in 1824 the school initiated its first classes. The missionaries sent to India, were truly praiseworthy in their religious activities, in the manner in which they started spreading their beliefs.
In 1819, in South India, except for Tranquebar, the Danish Mission passed to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge responsibility for eleven congregations and chapels and approximately 1300 Christians.
In the same year, the passage of the Charter Act of 1813 lifted the Company's restriction on the entry of missionaries into India. In consequence, the London Missionary Society began to work in Calcutta in 1819 and at Benaras in 1820. A Company chaplain of the Bengal Army converted Prabhu Din Naick to Christianity. A subsequent Army investigation found that the Indian had done no wrong, but refused to return him to duty. He was retired on full pay. A later review of the case by Bishop Middleton and then by Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826) also acquitted Naick of all blame.
In the 1820s, due to the growing number of British Catholics, a centre of Roman Catholicism developed at Sardhana, near Meerut. Over time the community possessed a church, a seminary, an orphanage, a convent, a college, a printing press and a hospital. Religious and missionary activities by the Britons in India had almost established their motive, evidencing themselves from the work in this second phase.
During the prolonged period of 1820-28, Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833), a great Hindu scholar and the Baptist missionaries at Serampore entered a dialogue on Christianity and a reformed Hindu faith. The statements regarding the debate appeared in a variety of newspapers, journals and books in Bengal.
By this point in time, i.e., the 1820s, Serampore Baptists possessed thirteen printing presses in their facilities. The Church Missionary Society, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and London Missionary Society had also established presses throughout India for the printing of Bibles, treatises and educational publications.
In May 1821, the British and Foreign School Society sent Mary Anne Cooke (c. 1795-c. 1861) to Calcutta where she taught young ladies under the auspices of the Calcutta School Society. In 1824, the Ladies Society for Native Female Education absorbed Ms. Cooke's efforts. Her mission followed the path of providing education in the Scriptures (The Bible), but avoided explicit attempts at conversion. In 1826-28, the wife of India's Governor-General sponsored the construction of the Female Central School for Ms. Cooke.
In 1823, the Scottish Missionary Society began its work in the Bombay Presidency. The port and presidency towns had become the primary hotspots for such missionary and religious activities by the British in 'new India'.
On 11th October 1823, Bishop Reginald Heber (783- 1826) arrived in Calcutta as the successor to Bishop Middleton. Through the impact of his ability and personality, he encouraged the early years of Bishops College, improved relationships with the Church Missionary Society and conducted extensive tours of India. In his tenure, Bishop Heber ordained the first two Indians into the Anglican ministry.
In 1824, the conflict of the caste system in India and Christianity elicited the attention of Bishop Heber in South India. He approached the conflict by surveying the opinions of twenty-four missionaries from the Church Missionary Society, London Missionary Society, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Royal Danish Mission and two representatives of the Wesleyan Mission. The overwhelming response indicated that Christianity simply could not survive in a milieu of the caste system.
In December 1825, Bishop Heber ordained the first Indian preacher, Abdul Masih, who was placed a Lucknow. Such instances of voluntary conversion by Indian staunch religious followers were much encouraging to British activists and missionaries to India.
Within the period of 1828-31, the Calcutta episcopate (the term of office of a bishop) suffered from the short tenures due to bad health of Bishop John Thomas James (1786-1828) in office only from 19 January to 22 August 1828. Similar occurrences fell on Bishop John Matthias Turner (1786-1831), who served from December 1829 to 1831.
In 1828, the London Missionary Society established the Benares and Chunar Tract Association in conjunction with aid from the Religious Tract Society of London. The Society had concluded that its strongest impact in Benaras, a major seat of Hinduism, would be through the printed word.
During that time, Reverend John Wilson (1804-1875) of the Scottish Missionary Society came to minister for the next forty-seven years in Bombay. He had acquired a profound knowledge of Marathi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Hindustani and Persian languages.
On 23rd January 1829, Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) with a group of friends founded the Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta. Although the Brahmo Samaj was rooted in Hinduism, its practices demonstrated the presence of Christian influences. With high-classed Indian educated population going by Christian beliefs and faiths, the second phase of missionary and religious activities by Britishers gained slow success.
On 4th December 1829, Lord William Bentinck (1774-1839), Governor-General of India, issued a regulation to abolish sati. This pivotal decision resulted from the snowballing pressures brought to bear by Reverend William Carey, in the writings of Reverend Claudius Buchanan and the speeches of William Wilberforce before the House of Commons during the debates over the new Charter Act of 1813 for the British East India Company.
On 27th May 1830, Reverend Alexander Duff (1806-1878) arrived as the first missionary, representing the Church of Scotland. As time passed, he accomplished great work in higher education for the Indians of Calcutta.
In 1831, Reverend James Weitbrecht (1802-1852), a representative of the Church Missionary Society, arrived in Calcutta. He represented a group of German trained missionaries who subsequently received further training at the Church Missionary Society Institute at Islington prior to assignment to India. In the same period, with the growth of total numbers of missionaries in India, the need to organise in a permanent or continuing association emerged. In 1831, the Calcutta Missionary Conference convened as probably the most significant unifying body. Later in 1845, the Bombay Missionary Conference was organised and in 1858 so did the Bangalore Conference. The conferences focused on social intercourse in prayer and devotion, discussion of specific subjects associated with missionary efforts and exploration of cooperation between the missionary groups.
The Calcutta Christian Observer began publication in 1831, as an interdenominational mission publication. Its range of interests covered science, literature and Evangelical Christianity. This publication ceased in 1867, to be replaced in part by the Indian Evangelical Review in 1873. Religion and missionary activities had occupied a prime position for the British in India, with such accomplishments.
Within the period of 1832 to 1841, the temperance movement took root in India. In 1832, the Bombay Missionary Union passed a resolution encouraging all Christians in India to seek temperance. Later in Bombay, Reverend R. A. Hume established the Bombay Temperance Union, which was replicated in 1836 at Madras and in 1841 at Calcutta.
On 20th February 1833, Lord Glenelg (1778-1866), President of the Board of Control, issued an emergency despatch to the Government of India. The despatch indicated that the Company had to cease any further relationships with temple administration, Hindu festivals, collection of the pilgrim tax and in general, avoid all associations with idolatrous ceremonies which would be inconsistent with their profession of Christianity. The long-term execution of these instructions varied widely. But the despatch marked a definite turning point in the British engagement in Indian religious matters.
On 21st August 1833, the new Charter Act for the East Indian Company completed its passage through Parliament. It provided for the expansion of the episcopate (the term of office of a bishop) in India to Bombay and Madras, reaffirmed the opening of India for the entry of Christian missions and recognised the existence of Christian Indians. It further called for the abolition of the Company's support of Hindu temples and religious rites. Religious and missionary activities were also endorsed by the Company regulations in favour of both British and Indian dwellers.
In the same year, Reverend Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853), founder of the Plymouth Brethren, arrived in Madras. As the Plymouth Brethren, Groves endorsed the practice of the lay celebration of communion; they stood outside the doctrines of the Anglican Church.
In 1834, Mary Jane Kinnaird helped to establish the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East. With the general support of the Church of England, the Society assigned Ms. Suter to the Calcutta Normal School which opened on March 1, 1852. By the 1860s, the Society had become known as The Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society and after 1880 as the Zenana Bible and Medical Mission. Such woman-centric activities by British missionaries to India boosted the Christian aim of spreading their sense of religion and its associates.
On 17th January 1834, Rt. Reverend Daniel Wilson (1778-1858), Bishop of Calcutta, issued an eight-point letter, denying the practice of caste distinctions among Indian Christians. In an 1835 tour of Bengal through January till March, he personally directed the services at various churches to ensure obedience.
On 18th April, Bishop Robert St. Leger (1788-1865) assumed the position of Vicar Apostolic of Calcutta. The Governor-General of India extended British recognition of Bishop St. Leger as the head of the Roman Catholic Church in all areas of India under British control.
It is evident in the accounts that Christianity was no more an alien religion and faith to the natives. The missionaries were a collective bunch, who stood in unison to make interactions with Hindus and Muslims, pleasant. Treatises were being published, the Crown held meetings in London to consolidate Christianity in India. Schools inclined to western thoughts imparted education in English; churches and convents had also started to see the light of the day. In all, the comfort factor had supremely increased amongst the 'heathens' and Christian missionaries to India.
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