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Section VI: Missions to India

Part 5: North India Mission, 1817-1880

Section VI Part 5 covers the papers of the North India Mission and contains the Original Papers O 1 - 0 53 comprising all the papers sent by the mission secretary to headquarters in London for the period 1817-1880.

Background to the Mission

CMS work in North India was controlled from the outset by the committee in Calcutta. CMS headquarters in London appointed the missionaries but the Committee decided where the missionaries, catechists and lay agents should work.

CMS work in North India developed quickly with an emphasis on education and printing. The first CMS school to be opened was Jai Narayan’s Boys’ School at Benares. The school, which was opened in 1818, was a gift from a Hindu and by 1822 classes for girls had begun, given by Miss Mary Ann Cooke, the first woman CMS missionary in India.

During 1837 and 1838 there was a terrible famine in North India and the Calcutta committee supported relief work and opened orphanages at Sikandra and Agra. It was difficult to find work for orphans and so a new trade, printing, was introduced. The work produced enough money to fund other mission institutions in Agra, such as St John’s College. The college opened in 1852 with the aim of providing higher English education on Christian lines to upper class Hindu boys. Within five years it had 320 pupils and several branch schools.

In 1852 the CMS opened a mission in Amritsar in the Punjab and then later in Peshawar in the Muslim North West Frontier province. But in 1857 the Indian Mutiny put a temporary halt to missionary progress when property was looted and destroyed and missionaries were forced to leave. After the Mutiny with the re-establishment of direct British rule, a country-wide educational system was developed and the introduction of postal services and railway communications began to break down regional differences and even moderate caste prejudice. These changes were reflected in the church and mission work.

Description of Contents

Original Papers

Covering 1817-1880 they consist mainly of letters, journals and reports of bishops and missionaries with a large section also covering the Calcutta and Simla and Himalaya Corresponding Committee minutes, 1820-1879. Included also are conference reports, papers on education, finance and local CMS associations.

Calcutta Corresponding Committee Minutes, 1820-1879

The minutes are divided into different mission areas. Discussed in the papers are a wide variety of topics including:

  • the establishment of a missionary boarding school
  • an increase in missionary salaries, the movement of missionaries to other stations and the appointment of new missionaries
  • schools and the appointment of teachers, salaries and finances
  • the need for a new edition of the Bible in Hindustani and for a Sanskrit diary
  • mission expenses and finances
  • the death of native teachers and the health of missionaries
  • news on catechists
  • negotiation for mission land, proposals for a new mission house and funds needed for building repairs, building costs of the Cathedral Mission College and of huts for local people after the cyclone of 1868, the building of a new church in Krishnapore, Calcutta
  • the Bengal conference of 1869
  • the appointment of language assistants
  • the failure of crops and sickness in Basharatpore
  • grants for medicines
  • yearly reports on the mission areas, some including statistical tables of the number of native Christians, day schools, boarding schools, teachers and pupils and statements of accounts

Also included are the Simla and Himalaya Corresponding Committee papers, 1840-1846 which include information on schools, local funds and grants and a very interesting first report of the Himalaya mission giving details on its progress from its beginnings up to 1844 with financial statistics.


Missionary Conferences Reports, 1845-1879           

There are reports on: education, preaching, training of native agents, the native church, medical missions, itinerations, native female education and also included are statistics on the mission stations.

Church Council Reports, 1871, 1877-1878

The reports cover topics such as: the ministry among native Christians, evangelisation, duties of native Christian laymen, church committees and church funds and pastorates.

Local CMS Associations, 1823-1879

The papers include:

  • minutes of meetings of the Agra and Benares CMS Associations and Orphan Seminary with financial accounts
  • a pamphlet on the Agra Orphan Institution
  • a report on the Jay Narain’s Boys’ School at  Benares
  • reports of the Calcutta, Goruckpore, Lucknow and Chunar CMS Associations with accounts  

Punjab Committee for Medical Missions, 1863-1874

Included are the minutes of meetings of the committee, some with accounts. The minutes give lists of diseases treated, major and minor operations performed, number of patients and results of the treatment.

Government Papers, 1854-1880

The papers include documents regarding education grants and those related to the Bill for the Solemnization of marriage of Christians in India.

Education Papers, 1823-1880

The papers include:

  • minutes of meetings of the subscribers to the Free School at Agra
  • a list of boys attached to the Agra Auxiliary CMS
  • minutes of a meeting of the Benares Free School with a list of boys at the school with details on their progress and a list of bursaries
  • a prospectus of a proposed college in Calcutta
  • minutes of a meeting regarding a  proposal to amalgamate different missionary colleges in Calcutta
  • statistics of day schools in the Lucknow mission
  • reports on the education of Native Christians

Finance Papers, 1820-1879

Included are:

  • minutes of the Finance Sub Committee
  • monthly accounts of the Calcutta Corresponding Committee
  • figures regarding missionary allowances
  • a printed leaflet on the Native Pastorate Fund
  • accounts of the Colportage Fund
  • estimate for building a church in Lucknow
  • Drafts  

Correspondence with, and papers of, other Societies,1820-1879

The correspondence includes:

  • letters to the American Methodist Mission
  • the proceedings of a meeting of the Ladies Society for Native Female Education in Calcutta, 1825 together with a printed leaflet on the history of the society with statistics on schools
  • papers of the Christian Vernacular Education Society
  • minutes of a meeting of the Christian Instruction Society

Papers of Indian Christians, 1823-1875

The papers contain extremely interesting and detailed journals of Native Christians and include also their reports, Annual Letters and petitions, mostly translated, but some also in the original language.

Correspondence with Bishops of Calcutta, 1820-1879

The correspondence with Bishops Thomas Fanshaw Middleton, Reginald Heber,

John Thomas James, Daniel Wilson, George Edward Lynch Cotton, Robert Milman and  Edward Ralph Johnson includes, amongst other items, reports on the missions and printed resolutions passed at conferences. 

Letters and Papers of Missionaries, Catechists and Others, 1820-1880

Missionaries and others with surnames commencing with A-Bo are covered in this part, with Parts 6-8 containing the remaining pre1881 papers of missionaries. Included are the papers of personalities such as Paul Ansorge, Rev David Thomas Barry, Secretary of the Corresponding Committee, Rev John Barton, the Principal of St John’s College, Rev Christian Bomwetsch who translated the Gospel of Matthew into Bengali and the very long and detailed journals of Rev William Bowley covering the years 1820-1843.

The papers include:

  • detailed and very interesting missionary journals
  • Annual Letters written for headquarters in London describing the work in the mission and itinerations for the year most with very interesting detail on the country, its people and their customs
  • reports on the missions, on the Jai Narayan Boys’ School in Benares, on preaching tours and conferences
  • school statistics
  • notes on committee meetings
  • a printed pamphlet on St John’s College
  • a report on a visit to the Murgbee Sikhs at Dhunpho, 1870 
  • correspondence regarding the Divinity School at Krishnagur
  • details on the famine at Krishnagur
  • correspondence regarding Native Christians
  • reports on the Orphan Asylums

Other papers included in this part are:

  • Candidates Papers, 1827-1868
  • Building Plans, 1826-1880
  • Sentences of consecration, 1844
  • Appeals, Addresses and Memorials, 1849-1877
  • Statistics, c1822-1875
  • Miscellaneous Mission Papers,1849-1875 including very detailed and interesting reports of the Kashmir Medical mission, the Lucknow Church mission, and the Meeruth, Peshawar, Punjab and Sekundra missions


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