William Carey’s India

Christianity Before Carey

• Malabar Christians: claim their church was founded by the apostle Thomas. Christianity certainly present in India by 300s.

• Catholics: Francis Xavier does Jesuit mission work in 1540s; later, in Madura, missionaries win 150,000 converts by 1700.

• Pietist Lutherans: establish mission in 1706; by Carey’s time the Lutheran community numbers perhaps 20–40,000.

• Dutch Reformed: 342,000 believers on Ceylon by 1800.

Key Sites in Carey’s Mission Work

• Calcutta: Lands in this bustling city in November 1793; soon runs low on funds and moves 30 miles north to Bandel; within weeks moves back to a malaria-ridden marsh northeast of Calcutta for a few more weeks; in 1801, begins teaching in Fort William College here.

• Sundarbans: In 1794, lives for three months in this huge area of jungle, swamps, and rivers, to cultivate some rent—free land; begins building bamboo hut.

• Mudnabatti: Also in 1794, moves to this town 250 miles north, near Malda, to manage indigo factory for five years.

• Bhutan: In 1797 makes brief trip here, possibly to investigate establishing a missions base.

• Malda: Preaches occasionally in small English congregations here in mid-1790s.

• Kidderpore: Moves here in 1799 when floods force his indigo factory in Mudnabatti to close.

• Serampore: Fellow missionaries arrive from England to join Carey, but are not permitted to live in British India. By early 1800, they and Carey are settled in this Danish colony and establish a mission and printing press.

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #36 in 1992]

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