Copied from ‘Mrs [Mary Martha] Sherwood’s letter’ sent to Mary Fletcher from Berhampore, East Indies [India, West Bengal]. Within the last few days, Sherwood has been ‘much delighted with a little society in the 22nd regiment, which is come to this place to remain here in our stead [The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment was stationed in India from 1803 to 1810.] . These poor men, about 20 in number, formed themselves into a small club, or religious society, when placed in Fort William in Calcutta some few years ago. They were allowed a bomb proof room to retire to, and an old school master of the name of Edwards there read to them, prayed with them, and sang psalms. The rules of their society are wonderfully pure, simple and strict, such as might have suited a company of souls in the apostolic ages (no genteel vice whatsoever being allowed) and whoever breaks through these rules is banished their society, and not readmitted but with the approbation of every individual of the society. When the regiment was removed from Fort William to Cawnpore, as I understand, on foot (not in boats) [Up the Ganges river] the society had few opportunities of meeting, and the members, and the members felt that they were gradually losing the spirit of religion. One evening, stopping at Allahabad, they, after a long march, met in a grove of mangoes at midnight and continued the whole night in prayer with one accord and singing of psalms… the refreshment and comfort which they found, this night, was wonderful; and in the morning they continued their march with joy.
There have lately been some disturbances in the 22nd regiment, of an unpleasant nature, and which I hope, by the prudence of the Commander in Chief will be amicably settled. These poor Christians on this occasion acted in a manner worthy of their calling and since the regiment came to Berhampore, Mr Parson, the chaplain of the station, has provided them with some apartments in his grounds, to which they retire morning and evening to pray, and Mr Parsons frequently with them…’
- Mary Martha Sherwood (1775-1851) was the daughter of George Butt, Anglican Rector of Stanford in Worcestershire. She was educated at St Quintin's Abbey School at Reading, where Jane Austen had also been a pupil. She published a gothic novel at the age of twenty and that same year moved to Bridgnorth in Shopshire where she joined her newly widowed mother and sister. Both Mary and her sister became Sunday School teachers. In 1803 she married her cousin Captain Henry Sherwood of the 53rd Regiment. Two years later the couple moved with the regiment to India where they were converted by the evangelical preaching of the chaplain at Berhampore following the death of their first son. Mary started a school while stationed at Cawnpore and developed a close friendship with the missionary Henry Martyn. The Sherwoods were responsible for introducing the first Hindustani translation of the New Testament into the province of Delhi. Sherwood resigned his commission in 1815 and the family returned to England. The Sherwoods started a school in Worcestershire and Mary also made a good living from her writing. In 1849 they moved to Twickenham near London where Mary died 22 September 1851. Mary had a prolific literary output ranging from novels to short stories and educational textbooks. Her best works were aimed at presenting evangelical values through fiction and she made very good use of her experiences in India in popular books like Little Henry and Boosy, Arzoomund (1828) and the Indian Piligrim (1818). Her most famous work was The Fairchild Family (three parts, 1818, 1842, 1847) which was reprinted until the 1930s. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography edited by Donald Lewis (1995)