JUDSON, ADONIRAM: The Apostle of Burma
and one of the first and most devoted of the foreign
missionaries of the American churches; b. at
Malden, Mass., Aug. 9, 1788; d. on board of a
vessel off the coast of Burma Apr. 12, 1850.
Early Life and Work.
graduated first in his class at Brown University in
1807. After teaching school for a year at Plymouth,
he entered Andover Seminary in the autumn
of 1808, although "not a professor of religion, or a
candidate for the ministry, but as a person deeply
in earnest on the subject, and desirous
of arriving at the truth" (Wayland).
The following May he made a profession
of his faith in the Third Congregational
Church at Plymouth, of which
his father was then pastor. His attention was first
drawn to the subject of missionary effort in heathen
lands by the perusal, in 1809 of Buchanan's Star
in the East;
and in Feb., 1810, he devoted himself
to that work. About this time he entered into intimate
relations with that illustrious band of young
men--Mills, Nott, Newell, and Richards, and joined
the first three in submitting a statement to the
General Association of Ministers at Bradford, Mass.,
which led to the organization of the American Board
of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In Jan.,
1811, he was sent to England, by the American
Board, to promote measures of affiliation and co-operation
between it and the London Missionary
Society. He returned unsuccessful in the immediate
design of his journey, but was appointed, with
Nott, Newell, Hall, and Rice, a missionary to India.
He was ordained, with these four men, on Feb. 6,
1812, at Salem, Mass. Judson sailed on the 19th,
from New York, with Mrs. Judson and Mr. and Mrs.
Newell, for Calcutta, where he arrived June 17.
On the voyage his views on the mode of baptism
underwent a change; and, after his arrival in India,
he and Mrs. Judson were baptized by immersion in
the Baptist Church of Calcutta. In consequence
of this change of views, he passed under the care
of the American Baptist Missionary Union at its formation
in 1814. The East India Company forbade
his prosecution of missionary labors in India; and,
after various vicissitudes, he landed in July, 1813, at
Rangoon, Burma, taking up his residence at the
Mission House of Felix Carey. Judson devoted
himself to the acquisition of the language, in which
he afterward became a proficient scholar. After
six years of labor, the first convert, Moung Nau,
was baptized at Rangoon, June 27, 1819. He was
the first Burman accession to the Church of Christ.
From 1824 to 1826, during the war of England with
Burma, Judson suffered almost incredible hardships.
He was imprisoned for seventeen months in the
jails of Ava and Oung-pen-la, being bound during
nine months of this period, with three, and during
two months with no less than five, pairs of fetters.
His sufferings from fever, exeruciating heat, hunger,
repeated disappointments, and the cruelty of
his keepers, form one of the most thrilling narratives
in the annals of modern missionary trial.
Mrs. Ann Hasseltine Judson suffered no less than
her husband, though she was not subjected to imprisonment.
Her heroic efforts to relieve the sufferings of the English prisoners
received the tributes of warmest gratitude
and praise at the time. She was
born in Bradford, Mass., Dec. 22, 1789,
and had been married on Feb. 5, 1812. She entered
with great enthusiasm into missionary effort,
and established a school at Rangoon for girls. In
1821 she paid a visit to America. Her health was
never robust; but she combined with strong intellectual
powers a remarkable heroism and fortitude.
During the imprisonment of her husband she was
unremitting in her self-sacrifice, and walked fearless
and respected from palace to prison among the
excited Burman population. She died Oct. 24,
1826. Hers is one of the immortal names in missionary biography.
Later Work. Visit to America.
In 1826 Judson transferred the headquarters of
his mission to Amherst, in Tenasserim, Lower
Burma; and in 1830 he began preaching to the
Karens. In 1835 he completed the revision of the
Old Testament in the Burmese language, and in
1837 that of the New Testament. In the latter
year there were 1,144 baptized converts in Burma.
After an absence of more than thirty years, he
returned, in 1845, for a visit to his native land.
On the voyage his second wife (Sarah
Hall Boardman) died (Sept. 1) at St.
Helena. She was the widow of the missionary,
Dr. Boardman, and was married
to Judson in 1834. Judson's arrival
in the United States was the signal
for an enthusiastic outburst of admiration for the
missionary, and interest in the cause he represented.
Everywhere crowded assemblies gathered to see
and hear him. He, however, shunned the public
gaze, and was diffident as a speaker. In 1823
Brown University had honored him with the degree
of D.D. On July 11, 1846, he again set sail for
Burma, having married, a few days before, Miss
Emily Chubbuck of Eaton, N. Y., who was already
well known under the name of "Fanny Forester."
He arrived safely at Rangoon, and spent much of
the remaining period of his life in revising his English-Burmese
dictionary (ed. E. A. Stevens, Maulmain,
1852). His health, however, was shattered;
and he died while on a voyage to the Isle of Bourbon.
His body was buried in the ocean.
Judson was a man of medium height and slender
person. He was endowed with strong intellectual
powers, and sought in his Christian life, by the
perusal of the works of Mme. Guyon and others, a
fervent type of piety. His confidence in the success
of missionary effort never wavered. Being
asked, on his visit to America, whether the prospects
were bright for the conversion of the world,
he immediately replied, "As bright, Sir, as the
promises of God." Adoniram Judson's name will
always have a place in the very first rank of American
missionaries to heathen lands. He belongs
to the first band of those missionaries, and his heroism,
wise judgment, and diligent labor have not
been excelled if equaled by any who have followed him.
Biographies of Adoniram Judson have been
witten by F. Wayland, 2 vols., Boston, 1853; H. Bonar,
London, 1871; and E. Judson (his son), New York, 1883.
The lives of his three wives were written by W. Wyeth, 3
vols., New York, 1892; A. W. Stuart, Auburn, 1851; A. W.
Wilson, New York, 1853; and by C. B. Hartley, ib. n. d.