David Brown (East India Company Chaplain)
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David Brown East India Company Chaplain

David Brown (1763-1812) was an English chaplain in Bengal and founder of the Calcutta Bible Society.


He was born in Yorkshire, and was educated first under private tuition at Scarborough, and then at a grammar school at Hull under Joseph Milner. He entered Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1782.[1][2]

Brown did not take a degree, but was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1785, by Richard Watson.[3] He was appointed to a chaplaincy in Bengal.[1]

Brown reached Calcutta in 1786, and was placed in charge of an orphanage. At the same time he was appointed chaplain to the brigade at Fort William. In addition to these duties Brown took charge of the Old Mission Church of Calcutta.[1] That year he met Charles Grant, and put together a "Proposal for Establishing a Protestant Mission in Bengal". It was passed to Charles Simeon, and then to William Wilberforce. Grant returned to Great Britain, and recruitment of evangelical chaplains for India got under way.[4] In 1788 Brown gave up the orphanage position, incompatible with his work as pastor at the Old Mission Church founded by John Kiernander.[5]

In 1794 Brown was appointed presidency chaplain. Among his close friends were Henry Martyn, Claudius Buchanan, and Thomas Thomason.[1] He became senior chaplain in 1797, when Thomas Blanshard left.[6]

Ruined Hindu temple in Serampore, in the garden of Aldeen House, the property in the early 19th century of David Brown, and used by Henry Martyn

In 1803 Brown bought Aldeen House in Serampore, and made it his home. The grounds included a deserted temple.[7] At this time Serampore was a colony of Danish India, and while the East India Company opposed missionary activity, the Lutheran Danish government was sympathetic, in particular to William Carey.[8] Under the name the Pagoda, the abandoned Radha-vallabha temple next to the River Hooghly was used as an oratory by Henry Martyn, who often stayed with Brown.[9][10][11] Aldeen House became a place of meeting of Baptist missionaries such as Carey, and the group of evangelical Anglican chaplains in Bengal.[12] While personal relations were good, there were also tensions: Brown opposed Baptist efforts with the Calcutta Benevolent Institution, a free school, and there was a power struggle within the Serampore mission.[13]

Brown's health was failing in 1812. He embarked, for the benefit of sea air, in a vessel bound for Madras, which was wrecked on the voyage down the Bay of Bengal. The passengers and crew were rescued by another vessel and taken back to Calcutta.[1]

Brown died on 14 June 1812, at the house in Chowringhee of John Herbert Harington, president of the Calcutta Bible Society set up in 1811, as he was the secretary.[1][14] Funeral sermons were preached by Daniel Corrie and Thomas Thomason.[15]


Brown married, first, a Miss Robinson of Hull, who died in 1794; and then in 1796, to Frances Cowley, daughter of Hannah Cowley. On his death he left nine children.[5] Buchanan mentioned three sons, who had been schooled in languages.[16]

The family received support from the East India Company, moved to London, and Frances Brown died in Bristol, in 1822.[17][18][19] Brown's children were:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Brown, David (1763-1812)". Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. ^ "Brown, David (BRWN782D)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Persons: Brown, David (1785-1785) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 24 March 2017)
  4. ^ Daniel O'Connor (12 January 2012). Chaplains of the East India Company, 1601-1858. A&C Black. pp. 109-10. ISBN 978-1-4411-7534-2.
  5. ^ a b c Prior, Katherine. "Brown, David". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3603.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine. A. Dodd and A. Smith. 1824. p. 300.
  7. ^ Hole, Charles (1896). "The Early History of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East to the end of A.D., 1814". Internet Archive. London: Church Missionary Society. p. 164. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ Daniel Jeyaraj (2006). Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, the Father of Modern Protestant Mission: An Indian Assessment. ISPCK. pp. 14-5. ISBN 978-81-7214-920-8.
  9. ^ L. S. S. O'Malley (16 June 2011). Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa Sikkim. Cambridge University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-1-107-60064-5.
  10. ^ Norman Macleod; Donald Macleod (1872). Good Words. Alexander Strahan and Company. p. 61.
  11. ^ The Calcutta Review. 1845. p. 502.
  12. ^ "www.wmcarey.edu, Chapter VIII. Carey's Family and Friends". Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ Brian Stanley (22 May 2014). Christian Missions and the Enlightenment. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-136-86554-1.
  14. ^ John Statham (1832). Indian Recollections. p. 445.
  15. ^ M. Derozario (1815). The Complete Monumental Register:: Containing All the Epitaphs, Inscriptions, &c. &c. &c. in the Different Churches and Burial-grounds, in and about Calcutta. P. Ferris. p. 221.
  16. ^ Claudius Buchanan (1812). Christian Researches in Asia: With Notices on the Translation of the Scriptures Into the Oriental Languages. Richard Scott. p. 136.
  17. ^ Josiah Pratt; Zachary Macaulay (1814). The Christian Observer. S. Whiting. p. 115.
  18. ^ A. Ranga Reddy (2003). The State of Rayalaseema. Mittal Publications. p. 349. ISBN 978-81-7099-814-3.
  19. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine. F. Jefferies. 1822. p. 380.
  20. ^ Howlett, David J. "Bird, Robert Merttins". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2450.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  21. ^ a b Peter L. Schmitthenner (2001). Telugu Resurgence: C.P. Brown and Cultural Consolidation in Nineteenth-century South India. Manohar. p. 60 note 59. ISBN 978-81-7304-291-1.
  22. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine. W. Pickering. 1854. p. 440.
  23. ^ A General Register of the Hon'ble East India Company's Civil Servants of the Bengal Establishment from 1790 to 1842 ...: To which is Added a List of the Governors General of India. Printed at the Baptist Mission Press. 1844. p. 45.
  24. ^ Blackwood's Magazine. W. Blackwood. 1819. p. 768.
  25. ^ Holmes and Co. (Calcutta, India) (1851). The Bengal Obituary: Or, a Record to Perpetuate the Memory of Departed Worth, Being a Compilation of Tablets and Monumental Inscriptions from Various Parts of the Bengal and Agra Presidencies. J. Thomas. p. 379.
  26. ^ The Bengal Obituary ... being a compilation of monumental inscriptions ... biographical sketches and memoirs ... By Holmes & Co. 1851. p. 146.
  27. ^ natstand, Babington, Charles Cardale (1808 - 1895), (PDF), at p. 14
  28. ^ "Proby,John Carysfort (PRBY816JC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  29. ^ Asiatic Journal. Parbury, Allen, and Company. 1832. p. 42.

External links


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainStephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Brown, David (1763-1812)". Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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