Henry Martyn Papers

Reference code(s): GB 1835 MAR
Held at: Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (formerly known as the Henry Martyn Centre)
Domain: archival
Title: Henry Martyn Papers
Date(s) of contents: c 1781-1836
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: Two boxes and one file of oversized papers.


Name of creator(s): Martyn, Henry (1781-1812)

Administrative/Biographical history: The papers are concerned chiefly with the life and achievements of the Reverend Henry Martyn (1781-1812). He was born in Truro and went up to St John's College, Cambridge in 1897 where he came under the influence of Charles Simeon, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church who had been instrumental in founding the Society for Missions to Africa and the East (later CMS). In 1802 Martyn was ordained into the Church of England and offered himself to the Society for Missions to serve abroad, but concerns for the welfare of his family forced him to seek a more lucrative appointment with the East India Company as a chaplain. At the same time he was pursuing studies in Persian and Arabic texts as well as learning Indian languages, including Urdu and Hindustani. He left for India in July 1805 and served in Calcutta, Patna and Cawnpore. Martyn was still anxious to do missionary work and was encouraged by the reversal of policy of the East India Company in 1810 which allowed, for the first time, missionaries into the areas under its control. He left from Bombay in March 1811, arriving in Bushire as the first Protestant missionary to live in Persia. He travelled on to Shiraz and Tabriz. Not only did he undertake missionary work but also translated the New Testament and Book of Psalms into Persian and the New Testament into Arabic and Urdu. He died in the following year on a journey through Armenia and Turkey heading towards Constantinople.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: The collection is an artificial one. It is an attempt to bring together, in the centre which bears his name, all materials relating to the life and work of Henry Martyn in Cambridge, India and Persia. The basis of the collection is formed of original letters of Martyn held at Ridley Hall College, Cambridge and placed on permanent loan in the Henry Martyn Centre. Copies of material held in other archives; notably CMS Archives at Birmingham Unuversity and Canterbury Cathedral Archives have been added. There are also numerous articles, sermons etc. on the life of Martyn and early missionary activity in India. Among other papers are a collection concerned with the life and work of Thomas Clarkson, the anti-slavery campaigner, whom Martyn met before going to India, and copies of the letters and other papers of Abdul Masih, Martyn's first convert from Island to Christianity who was ordained subsequently into the Church of England.

System of arrangement: The original collection consisted of the first loan of papers from Ridley Hall, Cambridge (MAR 1,2), copies of Martyn's correspondence with Daniel Corrie from Canterbury Cathedral Archives (MAR 3), articles relating to Martyn and India (MAR4) and the papers concerned with Thomas Clarkson (MAR 6). More recent additions have been photocopies of letters etc. relating to Henry Martyn and Abdul Masih from CMS Archives, University of Birmingham (MAR 7,12), from St John's College, Cambridge (MAR 8) and the Public Record Office and India Office Library (MAR 9). There is also a file of miscellaneous material on Martyn and the Henry Martyn Hall and Library in Cambridge (MAR 5).


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Refer to the repository

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: A handlist is available


Related material: Papers relating to the Henry Martyn Hall and Library in the Henry Martyn Centre class HMH. CMS Archives

Copies: Can be provided


Note: Compiled using:
the collection
Biographical dictionary of Christian missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1998).

Date(s) of descriptions: April 2002

Missionary societies
Missionary work

Personal names
Abdul Masih | Salih | 1765-1827 | Indian Muslim convert to Christianity
Brown | David | 1763-1812 | British Anglican Chaplain in Calcutta and advocate of missions
Carey | William | 1761-1834 | Baptist missionary in India and founder of the Serampore Mission
Clarkson | Thomas | 1760-1846 | anti-slavery campaigner
Corrie | Daniel | 1777-1837 | chaplain with the East India Company and Bishop of Madras 1835-1837
Grant | Charles | 1746-1823 | director of the East India Company and promotor of missionary and evangelical causes
Martyn | Henry | 1781-1812 | Anglican priest, chaplain and missionary and scholar in India and Iran
Simeon | Charles | 1759-1838 | co-founder of the Society for Missions to Africa and the East
Wilberforce | William | 1759-1833 | anti-slavery campaigner and founder member of the Church Missionary Society

Corporate names
Anti-Slavery Society
Christian Missionary Society
East India Company
Henry Martyn School of Islamic Studies
Society for Missions to Africa and the East

South Asia