Friends of Serampore
Serampore College, Serampore, India, opened on July 15, 1818, under the founding initiative of William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward, the trio from the English Baptist Missionary Society. Prior to 1818, the Serampore Trio had worked together in providing education for their own children and the children--including females--of the native Indians. At its opening, the Trio released a prospectus which proposed A College for the Instruction of Asiatic Christian and other Youth, in Eastern Literature and European Science, at Serampore Bengal. The College was open to all persons of any caste or creed, and the founders insured that no denominational test would apply to faculty members. (For a London 1819 announcement, click here: Evangelical Magazine; and for a review, click here: "Missionary College.")
Since Serampore was a Danish colony, Frederick the Sixth, King of Denmark, issued Serampore College its Royal Charter of Incorporation on February 23, 1827, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Charter, 1, Charter, 2, Charter, 3). The charter came in response to Joshua Marshman's visit with King Frederick in August 1826; the charter gave Serampore College the privilege of awarding degrees in Arts and Theology. William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and John Clark Marshman (Joshua's son) were designated as members of the first Council. For the College's third report on its progress, 1829, click here.
On February 22, 1845, the ownership of Serampore College was transferred to the British Government after Denmark sold all of its Indian assets to Great Britain. The management and operation of the College continued without interruption under the direction of a Master and Council. In 1856, the Baptist Missionary Society in England took over the management of the College, and in 1857, the College became affiliated with the University of Calcutta.
In 1883, the College closed as an Arts College and began functioning as a Christian Training Institution and a theological institute for the Baptist Churches in Bengal. Affiliating again with the University of Calcutta in 1911, Serampore College, in 1913, rose to the standard of the Bachelor of Arts degree. The College faculty was interdenominational.
In December 4, 1915, the first group of Bachelor of Divinity students graduated: Rev. I. W. Johory, Professor in the Canadian Mission College, Indore; Rev. N. G. Kuriakos, a priest in the Orthodox Syrian Church; and Mr. D. M. Devasahayam, London Missionary Society, South India. From 1916 through 1927, sixty-nine additional students earned the Bachelor of Divinity degree through Serampore.
During the Centenary Year of the College in 1918, the Bengal Legislative Council passed the Serampore College Act (1918 Act, i, 1918 Act, ii, 1918 Act, iii, 1918 Act, iv) for the purpose of enlarging the College Council and forming a new interdenominational Senate that would confer theological degrees for all Christian denominations in India. By 1960, twenty other Indian colleges and seminaries affiliated themselves with Serampore.
Dr. George Howells, one of two contributing authors of The Story of Serampore and Its College, served as principal of the Serampore College, 1906-1929, and came to be known as the "second founder of the College." Howells had previously served as a member of the Baptist Missionary Staff in Orissa. Under his leadership, Serampore College achieved the status of granting College degrees. Also, the interdenominational character of the College was evident as Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Disciples, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Syrian Orthodox, and Welsh Calvinists either enrolled or served on the faculty.
In 1969, the Indian government honored Serampore College with a national stamp and first day issue brochure. To view the Indian stamp and first day brochure, click here.
Serampore College continues its work as an institution of arts, sciences, and theology. In May, 2001, the Senate of Serampore College conducted the interdenominational Indian National Consultation on Theological Education, CSI Centre, Chennai, India.
In 1918, Dr. George Howells and A. C. Underwood wrote The Story of Serampore and its College (Serampore and Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1918), a brief history of the College. At the time of the book's composition, Dr. Howells was the Principal of the College, and Rev. Underwood served as Bursar and Librarian of the College. Below are links to the full text images of the book. The Center's copy of this book was signed by Dr. Howells as a gift to David Lloyd George (1863-1945) who served as the British Prime Minister, 1916-1922.
Book Cover Signatory Page Book Title Title Page Preface
Contents List of Illustrations Historical Summary of the College
Carey and his Pundit, Frontispiece Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4
Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10
The Danish Church in Serampore Where Carey and his Colleagues Ministered
Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Henry Martyn's Pagoda Page 15
Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22
Serampore College Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27
Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34
Page 35 Page 36 Page 37
Page 38 The First Serampore Bachelors of Divinity
Serampore's Faculty and Students, 1914 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41
Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Quadrangle of the College Hostel
Serampore College Hostel Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48
Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55
Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62
Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69
Page 70 Page 71 Page 72
Serampore College Act of 1918 (p. 73) Serampore College Act of 1918 (p. 74)
Serampore College Act of 1918 (p. 75) Serampore College Act of 1918 (p. 76)
The Royal Charter of Incorporation of 1827 (p. 77)
The Royal Charter of Incorporation of 1827 (p. 78)
The Royal Charter of Incorporation of 1827 (p. 79)
The 1833 Statutes and Regulations of the Serampore College (p. 80)
The 1833 Statutes and Regulations of the Serampore College (p. 81)
List of Past Missionary Members of the College Staff (p. 82)
The Council of Serampore College and the Senate of Serampore College (p. 83)
The Staff of Serampore College (p. 84)
List of Degree Candidates (p. 85)
The background image on this page is Serampore College's crest, which appears on the cover of the book and on the first day issue stamp. The Latin motto on the crest, GLORIAM SAPIENTES POSSIDEBUNT, could be translated as "The wise will possess glory." For a full blazon (i.e., interpretation) of the crest, click here.
The above textual information derives from the following sources:
George Howells and A. C. Underwood, The Story of Serampore and its College (Serampore and Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1918).
George Howells and Members of the College Faculty. The Story of Serampore and its College (Serampore, 1927)
The Story of Serampore and Its College (Serampore: The Council of Serampore College, 1961).
On March 21, 2005, Dr. Lalchungnunga, Principal, Serampore College, was William Carey College's Jubilee Lecturer. Dr. Lalchungnunga presented William Carey College an English text replica of Serampore College's charter. Below are links to this special gift from Serampore College.
Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6
Ravi Tiwari, "Reconfiguring Theological Education in India," New Life Theological Journal 7, no. 7 (January-June 2017): 7-23.
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Created: January 9, 2002 Updated: March 30, 2018