The Baptist Mission in India:

Containing a Narrative of Its Rise, Progress, and Present Condition,

A Statement of the Physical and Moral Character of the Hindoos,

Their Cruelties, Tortures and Burnings,

With a Very Interesting Description of Bengal.

by William Staughton, D.D.

Philadelphia: Hellings and Aitken, 1811.




William Staughton (1770-1829), baptized by Samuel Pearce, was a theological student at Bristol Academy (Bristol Baptist College), Bristol, England, at the establishment of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792.  According  to S. Pearce Carey, William Carey, D.D., Fellow of the Linnaean Society (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1923), pp. 92-93, Staughton was present at the founding of the BMS in 1792, and contributed ten shillings for membership in the Society.  He did not sign the founding document, but he was entered as "Anon." (i.e., anonymous).  S. Pearce Carey says of Staughton, 


"The 'Anon.' was student William Staughton, thanking his lucky stars that he was there, but, true to studentdom, moneyless, even after his five Sundays' 'supplying' in 'College Lane.'  He used to say, 'I rejoice over that half-guinea more than over all I have given in my life besides.'  As just a bird of passage, he modestly withheld his signature."  [S. Pearce Carey, William Carey, D.D., Fellow of the Linnaean  Society (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1923), p. 93; cf. S. W. Lynd, Memoir of the Rev. William Staughton, D.D. (Boston: Lincoln, Edwards, and Co., 1834), p. 173.]



In 1793, Staughton immigrated to Georgetown, South Carolina, where he served as a Baptist minister.  After two subsequent pastorates in New Jersey, Staughton became the minister of First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1805.  In 1811, he helped to form a new church, Sansom Street Baptist Church, Philadelphia, and he became its first minister.  Always committed to theological and higher education, Staughton began a theological school in his home in 1811, the first of its kind in the United States.  In 1798 when Staughton was twenty-eight years old, Princeton College recognized his theological insight and awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity (D.D.) degree.  In addition to The Baptist Mission in India (1811), Staughton translated and published Edward Wettenhall's Graece grammaticae institutio compendiaria, A Compendious System of Greek Grammar (1813), and two editions of The Works of Virgil (1812; 1813).


At First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 18, 1814, the first "General  Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions" (i.e., Triennial Convention) elected Staughton--an ardent supporter of Christian missionary work--as its first corresponding secretary for the newly formed Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.  Along with the Richard Furman, the first president of this national body of Baptists in the United States and founder of Furman University, and Thomas Baldwin, the first secretary of the body, Staughton became known as a key leader of Baptists in America and Christian missionary outreach.  "Baldwin, Staughton, and Furman were the leading preachers during the only time in American history when the Baptists were genuinely united" [Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr., The Forgotten Heritage: A Lineage of Great Baptist Preaching (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1986), p. 174].


So eminent was Staughton that upon the simultaneous deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826--the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence--various people in Washington, D.C., requested that he deliver a memorial sermon in the United States Capitol.  Staughton's text was 2 Samuel 1:23 "lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions."  McKibbens says, 


Staughton honored the lives of Jefferson and Adams and gently led his hearers to remember that, as he so picturesquely said it, "the rock is unshaken, though the aspen tremble on its side."  Although leaders, no matter how great, must fall and die, "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." He concluded his sermon with a reminder that life can be compared to walking on a bridge that is full of trap doors that lie concealed.  "Each step . . . is step of jeopardy."  Thus it is wise for every person to be "well prepared for the final plunge."  [McKibbens, The Forgotten Heritage, p. 171; McKibbens attributes the quotes' origin to "William Staughton, "Sermon, Delivered in the Capitol of the United States; on Lord's Day, July 16, 1826; at the Request of the Citizens of Washington, on the Death of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams" (Washington: Published at the Columbian Office, 1826), p. 11.]

On two different occasions, Staughton served as Chaplain of the United States Senate.  Appointed December 10, 1823, his first term ended on December 13, 1824.  His second term began on December 12, 1825, and ended on December 7, 1826.


The Board of Commissioners of the Triennial Convention of Baptists established Columbian College, now The George Washington University, Washington, D. C.; Staughton was elected as the first president (1821-1827).  For The George Washington University's description of Staughton, click here; for a brief introduction to Columbian College at The George Washington University, click here).  Because of bad health, Staughton resigned his position at George Washington University.  Subsequently in 1829, Staughton was elected as the first president of Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky, to which he sent his books and papers.  However, Staughton died suddenly prior to arriving at the College [cf. Robert Snyder, A History of Georgetown College, ca. 1980].


As Staughton reports in the "Preface" to The Baptist Mission in India:  


The following pages have been selected for the most part from the writings of the missionary brethren at Serampore, and those of their friends.  The "brief narratives" was drawn up in England.  The Essays are formed chiefly from a series of interesting dialogues composed by Dr. Marshman.  The other Articles are selected from "the Periodical accounts" of the Society, excepting the article "Bengal," which is a production of Mr. Ward, and taken from his interesting history "of the writings, religion, and manners of the Hindoos."


This compilation is presented to the public from an anxious desire that Missionary Intelligence may be circulated, and that an holy ardour may be excited and vigorous efforts employed for the conversion of the heathen and the consequent diffusion of the great Saviour's empire.  The detail is limited to the Baptist Mission in India.


To read Staughton's work, The Baptist Mission in India, click on the page links listed below:

i, Title Page         ii-iii, Preface         iv-v, Preface        vi-vii, Contents       viii-ix, Contents    10-11    

12-13    14-15    16-17    18-19    20-21   22-23    24-25    26-27    28-29    30-31    32-33    34-35    36-37    

38-39    40-41    42-43    44-45    46-47   48-49    50-51    52-53    54-55    56-57    58-59    60-61    62-63    

64-65    66-67    68-69    70-71    72-73   74-75    76-77    78-79    80-81    82-83    84-85    86-87    88-89    

90-91    92-93    94-95    96-97    98-99      100-101     102-103    104-105    106-107    108-109    110-111      

112-113    114-115    116-117    118-119    120-121    122-123    124-125    126-127    128-129    130-131    

132-133    134-135    136-137    138-139    140-141    142-143    144-145    146-147    148-149    150-151    

152-153    154-155    156-157    158-159    160-161    162-163    164-165    166-167    168-169    170-171    

172-173    174-175    176-177    178-179    180-181    182-183    184-185    186-187    188-189    190-191    

192-193    194-195    196-197    198-199    200-201    202-203    204-205    206-207    208-209    210-211    

212-213    214-215    216-217    218-219    220-221    222-223    224-225    226-227    228-229    230-231    

232-233    234-235    236-237    238-239    240-241    242-243    244-245    246-247    248-249    250-251    

252-253    254-255    256-257    258-259    260-261    262-263    264-265    266-267    268-269    270-271    

272-273    274-275    276-277    278-279    280-281    282-283    284-285    286-287    288-289    290-291    

292-294    294-295    296-297    298-299    300-301    302-303    304-305    306-307    308-309    310-311    


Carey Center Home Page


   Created:  May 17, 2001        Updated:  August 9, 2012