History

William Carey

History

On 11 October 1949 the Baptist Missionary Society gave a carved English walnut lectern to Westminster Abbey in memory of William Carey, missionary in India. It was presented by his great grandson the Revd.Dr S.Pearce Carey. The lectern was designed by Sir A.E.Richardson and made by John P.White & Sons of Bedford. The craftsmen who worked on it were Arthur H.Burton, Richard Bass, Leslie W.Gilbert and Alfred Hardiman. It stands near the High Altar and is about 6 feet high with a revolving top so that two Bibles can be used. The book rests are inscribed “Expect Great Things from God” and “Attempt Great Things for God”. The symbols of the four Evangelists also appear and the two lanterns are of silver. Under the book rest are the heads of four cherubim. The inscription on the base reads:

“THE GIFT OF THE BAPTIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY IN HONOUR OF WILLIAM CAREY 1761-1834 MISSIONARY IN INDIA AND TRANSLATOR OF THE BIBLE”

Carey was born on 17 August 1761, a son of Edmund and Elizabeth Carey. He started work as a shoemaker and in 1781 he married Dorothy Plackett (d.1807). After baptism he became a Baptist preacher and founded what was later called the Baptist Missionary Society, the first evangelical missionary society. William arrived in India in 1793 as a missionary and he translated the Bible into many Indian languages. In 1801 he was appointed a professor at Fort William College and was later awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Brown University, USA. His second wife was Charlotte Rumohr (d.1821) and his third was Grace Hughes. William died at Serampore in India on 9 June 1834 and is buried there.

A photograph of the lectern can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading

“William Carey” by Mary Drewery, 1978
“William Carey” by S.Pearce Carey, 1923
“Memoir of William Carey” by E.Carey, 1836
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004, for William and his son Felix

Website: BMS World Mission
Website: Centre for the study of the life and work of William Carey