21 October 1812 (1)

The letter below and the one following of the same date are among the the first letters written by Ann Judson to her friends in America just after the change in her sentiments (and that of her husband) concerning baptism. They were now committed to believer’s baptism by immersion (the mode of the Baptists) and not that of sprinkling (the mode used by the Congregationalists, of whom they were previously associated as missionaries). Their change in sentiments occurred in tandem with that of their associate, Luther Rice (1783-1836), who would join them in becoming Baptist missionaries. Their new sentiments forced their removal as missionaries from the Congregational Board and for a time left them without any support for their mission work. That would soon come to an end, but in the meantime the need for monetary support was critical, as was the need of another female companion and coworker for the mission, Miss Rebecca Eaton, at that time engaged to Rice but unable to join them on the voyage to India (she did not come to India nor did she marry Rice). While in Calcutta, Judson mentions the family of James Rolt, a layperson who worked closely with the Baptist missionaries in India and who wife, a Miss Hirons of Fairford, Gloucestershire, was the former wife of Daniel Brunsdon (1770-1801), who arrived in Calcutta in 1799 only to die in 1801. Brunsdon, originally from Pershore, was baptized by John Ryland, Jr., and trained for the ministry by John Sutcliff at Olney. The Brunsdons sailed for India with the Marshmans, William Grant, and William Ward. Mrs. Rolt returned to England in 1810.

Ann Judson, Calcutta, to Mrs. Jonathan Carleton, Boston, 21 October 1812.

Calcutta Oct. 21. 1812.

My Dear Mrs Carleton,

A recollection of the intimacy which once existed between us, & which has for a few years been discontinued on account of our local separation, strongly urges me to wish its revival, & now induces me to write. Although that intimacy was sweet, & free from those bitter feelings of which a difference in sentiment is generally productive, yet a little restraint was felt, which, I am happy to say, is now removed. You will probably hear before the reception of this, of the change which has taken place in Mr. Judson & myself relative to baptism. As Mr. Judson has written the particulars respecting our change to Dr. Baldwin it is unnecessary for mee now to relate them to you. The severe trials occasioned by such an event, can be reallised [sic] by those only, who are in similar circumstances. The anticipated disapprobation of friends we love & respect, the loss of the patronage of the Board of Commissioners, together with the privation of the society of our dear missionary associates, exceedingly depressed our spirits. We felt we were alone in the world, no friends but each other, no one on whom to depend for protection & support but our heavenly Father. Thus circumstanced, think my dear Mrs. C. how gratifying to our hearts the prospect of having one of our brethren to join us.

Soon after we were baptized, Br Rice, compelled from a sense of duty, began to examine the subject more thoroughly than ever before, altho’ he has had his doubts respecting it for some time. I think he is convinced of the truth of the Baptist system, & will join us in a mission in some part of the eastern world. They, Mr Rice & Mr Judson, at present contemplate a mission to Java. Mr Rice was is engaged to a Miss Eaton in America, who he hoped would accompany him to India. But as she had so little time to prepare for so important an undertaking, she concluded not to come. Since our arrival here & change of sentiment, since it is probable I shall be the only female in the mission, we have written urgent letters to have her follow us as soon as an opportunity offers. As it is expected the Commissioners will refuse to support us on accou^n^t of our becoming baptists, letters have been written to several Bap. Ministers in America to form a society to support a mission in this country. Should this take place, it will be some time before a society is formed & funds, sufficient to defray the expences of a mission, be procured. While this society is forming will you not, my dear sister, make some exertion to collect a small sum among your female friends sufficient to defray the expenses of Miss Eatons voyage should she conclude to come? Will those females who are surrounded with all the comforts & even the luxuries of life refuse to contribute to the happiness of a solitary female in a strange land, without a mother, sister or female friend? No, I know they will rejoice to have the opportunity of doing something for the cause of the Redeemer, for the souls of the heathen & for the comfort of those who have left their native land for the spread of the gospel. I now you will use your influence among your friends to make this collection when you reflect how much I shall need a female to assist in the mission & when you are informed how useful females are in this country. Schools are needed extremely, & unless there are two females in a mission a school cannot be attended. If there can be sufficient collected to pay Miss Eatons passage, will you take the trouble of writing to her immediately, as she may probably delay coming on account of there being no society to bear the expence of her passage. She lives in Framingham Mass. I intend writing to Mrs. Bolles of Salem on this subject if I have time before this vessel sails. If ^I^ do not write, be so good as to request her to make the same exertions among her female friends with yourself. I leave this affair with you, my dear Mrs Carleton, in the hands of God who has the entire disposal of all his creatures. We have found by experience since we left our native land, that he ^the Lord^ is indeed a covenant-keeping God, & takes care of those who confide in him. I have even considered it a singular favor that God has given me an opportunity to spend my days in a heathen land. Tho’ he has made it my duty to give up endearing connections & suffer many privations, yet he has made ^me^ feel that he is my Captain & I am happy in the prospect of spending my days in instructing those who have never yet heard of Jesus. If I may be instrumental of leading some infant female to lispe the praise of God, I am shall rejoice in the sacrifice of country reputation & friends. You can form no idea of the melancholly state of the heathen in this part of the world. Heathen, idolatrous temples are every where erected & the ignorant multitude pay their devotions to the most odious figures of their own making. But their devotions & maxims are not calculated to reform the heart or life. It is all an outward show, without the least appearance of solemnity or holy devotion. How unlike the religion of the meek & holy Saviour! How opposite its effects & consequences! Who would not be willing to sacrifice worldly comfort to communicate the news of salvation to the benighted pagan. And what Christian in our native ^land^ but will rejoice to have an opportunity to contribute his mite for this glorious object. O my dear Mrs Carleton pray much for us in this infant mission. Pray that we may be spiritual & holy; and when your little social circle meet for prayer & praise remember those poor ignorant females in a heathen land who know no such joys, who have no such animating hopes to comfort their hearts in the dreary hour of death. I shall write you all the particulars respecting this mission when we are settled. Write me every opportunity and be assured your letters will be a cordial to the heart

of your still affectionate –

Nancy Judson –

Br. & sister Newell are gone to the Isle of France. I have not heard from them since they went. The missionaries at Serampore are still successful. They have constant additions to their church. Mr. Judson & myself are residing at Mr Rolts in Calcutta where we are very kindly treated. Mrs. Rolt was Mrs Brunsdon formerly one of the missionaries. She is eminently pious. Please to remember me affectionately to Mrs Kendall & Mrs Hardy if you see her.

Let me once more request my dear Mrs C. you will do all in your power toward having Rebecca Eaton come out to us. She is eminently qualified to be in a mission & will be a very great assistance to Mr Rice whose health is very delicate. But I need not be so urgent with you who have the cause of God so near your heart. Yet let me again ask you to write her & encourage her coming –

Address: Mrs Jonathan Carleton | Boston

Text: Ann Judson Papers, RG 1108, American Baptist Historical Society Archives, Atlanta, GA.