Henry Martyn (18 February 1781 – 16 October 1812) was born in Cornwall in 1781 and was converted while a student at Cambridge in 1800. He was Senior Wrangler, became a Fellow of St John’s College, and served as a curate at Holy Trinity Church while Charles Simeon was the vicar. He was an Anglican priest and missionary to the peoples of India and Persia. and became a chaplain for the British East Indian Company.
Martyn arrived in India in April 1806, where he preached and occupied himself in the study of linguistics. He translated the whole of the New Testament into Urdu, Persian and Judaeo-Persic. He also translated the Psalms into Persian and the Book of Common Prayer into Urdu. From India, he set out for Bushire, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz.
On 16 October 1812 he died in Armenia, aged only 31. He was remembered for his courage, selflessness and his religious devotion.
Martyn's legacy is three-fold:
- Translations of the Scriptures ~ foundations for future missions
- Inspiring life and work ~ foundations for missionary vocations
- Stimulating scholarship ~ foundations for the study of mission and world Christianity.
Papers commemorating the bicentenary of the the death of Henry Martyn on 16th October 1812 and his ordination on 22nd October 1803 can be found here.
Abdul Masih (1776-1827) Shaikh Salih chose the name Abdul Masih, Servant of the Messiah, at his baptism in the Old Church, Calcutta, on the day of Pentecost, 1811. He was converted to Christ through the preaching and life of Henry Martyn at Cawnpore (Kanpur) in northern India. Salih was born in Delhi about the year 1776 into a well-respected Muslim family, became zealous in devotion, and was recognized as a scholarly religious teacher in Lucknow. When working for an officer of the East India Company, he even induced a Hindu servant to become a Muslim. In 1810 Salih was at Cawnpore, where he heard Martyn preach to the poor who assembled at his door on Sunday afternoons to receive alms. He was struck by Martyn's exposition of the Ten Commandments and wanted to hear more. Eventually he became a CMS evangelist and the second ordained Indian anglican.
For further information see...
" Foundations for Mission and the Study of World Christianity: The Legacy of Henry Martyn " Lecture given by Canon Graham Kings, HMC Director at the opening of the Henry Martyn Library at Westminster College, January 1996
" Martyn and Martyrs: Questions for Mission " Lecture given by the Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester at the Centenary of the Henry Martyn Library, October 1998.
"Abdul Masih (1776-1827): An Icon of Indian Indigeneity." Article by Canon Graham Kings, HMC Director, published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 23/2 (April 1999).
A Brief Chronology of Henry Martyn’s life