It is clear that William Ward achieved far more than many of us could have achieved in one lifetime. Every moment was precious and his time was used for one purpose only, the evangelisation of India. He was an author, evangelist, printer, linguist, manager, businessman, and, in many instances, a born leader. He clearly excelled in all of these roles.
While Carey had to apply a strict personal timetable in order to learn the languages of India, and to work with the pundits on the translations, it was understandable that he spent much of the time secluded from the other missionaries, either in Calcutta, or in Serampore. He was the father figure of the Mission community, but someone had to manage affairs at Serampore. Joshua and Hannah Marshman were running the many schools, so responsiblity for much of the management of the Mission fell to William Ward.
At times of great crisis, when the general mood was despair, it was Ward who showed the leadership to put forward practical and wise solutions that lead the missionaries forward. It is to Ward that John Clark Marshman turns, again and again, for an account of the events in the unfolding story. This shows the vital role Ward played in events.
Each of the senior missionaries had qualities that marked them out to an extraordinary degree. When combined, they complemented each other in such a way that the effect was far, far more than the sum of the parts. The Serampore Trio were recognised and respected by fellow Christians of other denominations in India, England and America. Governors-General, Bengali Hindus, businessmen, academics &c. &c. all respected the missionaries in their own time. In the 21st century we are still talking about them.
It is worth reminding the reader that this site has been put together by the son of a successor to William Pearce, the member of the Calcutta Brethren who caused William Ward the most mental anguish in his final years. I am very conscious of the irony of the situation. All the material has been presented exactly as I have found it, though maybe in a somewhat reduced form. I have ensured that the story is told in the words of those who he knew and respected, and in his own words through his published letters and journal.
If Ward returned in the 20th century he would be surprised to find a succession of Seperintendents (from 1925-1966) who had close connections with Derbyshire.
Rev. Percy Knight, the Superintendent from 1925-1941, came from a family firm of Derby printers and had been a member of the Baptist church that gave rise to the Rev. J. D. G. Pike and the General Baptist Missionary Society in the early 19th century. Norman and Bernard Ellis were trained by their father at Riddings, in Derbyshire, in the family printing firm. He would probably recognise the Derbyshire accents and the humour.
I feel confident that Ward would have recognised and approved of the work being done at Baptist Mission Press in the 1950's and 60's. He would recognise the printing processes, the conditions, and the financial pressures. Work was still being done for the Bible societies, tract societies, the Asiatic Society, the universities and academic institutions. Training was provided, and contact maintained, with other Christian presses from Assam to Orissa, Agra to Madras.
The paper the Press used was derived from the 'Serampore Paper' first created by the missionaries at Serampore. The Press published and printed the Indian printing industry's trade journal, 'Indian Print and Paper'. It also had a secret security department which printed examination papers for universities all over India - a by-product of the reputation for integrity which the Press continued to proudly uphold. There is no instance of that security ever being breached. It printed in all the Indian languages, plus English, Tibetan, Burmese, Armenian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, etc. Today's Tibetan computerised typeface is designed from the Baptist Mission Press created font, used by the Press to print the first Tibetan Dictionary. Proofs were sent all over the world for checking. My father joked that the only language they didn't print in was Russian.
The Press undertook general printing work (in competition with other commercial Calcutta presses) such as school magazines, the 'Himalayan Journal', and the monthly magazine for BI (the British India Steam Navigation Company - at the time the cargo arm of P&O).
It was a profitable press, but all the Christian literature was printed at 40% discount. The Superintendents were paid missionary salaries and the profits (£12,000 - £15,000 a year at 1965 rates) went into Baptist Missionary Society funds for redistribution to the India field, so that evangelists, teachers and nurses could be paid.
My parents, and my uncle, periodically returned to England for 6 months every 4 years when most weekends were spent preaching and raising funds for the BMS. Husbands and wives (separately and together), preached in churches right across England and Wales.
My father quotes from the 1964-65 report to the BMS:
'During that year, the Press distributed or sold 74,771 pieces of Christian literature, for BMP, the BMS, Scripture Gift Mission of India, and Calcutta Christian Tract and Book Society.
Included in the list of general work completed was a 664 page book, 'Animal Gametes' for the Zoology Dept. of the Government of India, and the 'Life of Sir Arthur Cotton' (564 pages, 18 illustrations and a dust jacket in four colours). The latter book was out of print in England and was reprinted by the Institute of Engineers; it is a classic for engineers in India. The Sara New Testament, in international phonetic script, was delivered, with three key publications in Lushai: 'The story of the Hebrew prophets'; 'The history of the Hebrews and their religion'; and 'The Work of the Holy Spirit', reprints being ordered almost at once. 'The Gospel of Mark' in Kui demanded the cutting of special characters and that edition went with the production of 'I Corinthians' in Bengali, 'Ananda Sangit' in Bengali, Kumaon parables, Nepali parables, 'In the beginning, God' in English, Oriya, Hindi and Gurmukhi (separate editions), 'St Matthew' and 'The Book of Genesis' in Tibetan. Work continued on the Anal hymnal for Assam. A 212 page text book on Nanpung algebra, for a customer in Manipur State, was an unusual piece of work. The Press received regular print and block orders from Christian organizations elsewhere in Manipur and when the Annual Report was being prepared, the Press was producing passports for the Government of Bhutan - the country which Dr William Carey hoped to include in his work, early in the last century.'
For a record of books printed and published by Baptist Mission Press over 150 years go to the section under Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 'BMP books on the internet'.
A change in printing technology meant that the use of cold, and hot metal to make type, which had not changed in principle since Gutenburg's day, and around which everything at Baptist Mission Press revolved, was now superseded. Instead of the thousands of individual finely crafted pieces of metal being needed to make up a printing form, a single sheet of metal - a photosensitive lithographic plate - could now do exactly the same job. The letterpress principle of raised, inked type, pressed onto the paper surface, was to be replaced by a process based on the principle that oil repels water. A quicker, cheaper, less labour intensive printing process. Today even that process is being replaced by digital printing.
The profits needed to completely re-equip the press were going into the Mission field and the complete re-training of staff was out of the question. The press was closed and the site was levelled in the 1970's.
The view through the main gate, 1979. The mound in the left middle foreground is where the flats were. The wall in the background was behind the office and composing room block. The van sits where the lawn was. Only the two trees at the end of the garden are still standing