The South India work of the LMS dealt with four districts of which the principal distinguishing characteristic was the Indian language prevalent in each district. This is shown by three of the districts being named by the dominant language therein: Telugu, Tamil and Canarese (Canarese referred to the language now called Kannada). There was, however, significant Tamil work beyond the Tamil district, notably in the Canarese. The fourth district was given the name of the kingdom with which it was more-or-less co-terminous, Travancore. Geographically, missions were concentrated in the Madras Presidency, the Bombay Presidency, and the Native States of Mysore and Travancore. The mission to Southern India can be seen as particularly successful in terms of the number of Church members; there were 126,000 members in Travancore alone by 1939.
The first mission to be established in South India was the mission to Telugu in the Madras Presidency, which was formed at Vizagapatam [Vishakhapatam] in 1805 by George Cran and Augustus des Granges. The mission to the Telugu speaking peoples was expanded to include Cuddapah (1822), Nundial (1855), Gooty (1889) and Anantapur (1890).
The Travancore [Kerala] mission, perhaps the most successful of the LMS missions in South India, was set up by William Ringeltaube in 1806 at Mayiladi. An additional mission was established at Nagercoil in 1819, and this station was later to become the centre of LMS educational work. Indeed, Nagercoil was the centre of training for much of the indigenous clergy that was to become so important in the success of the missions in South India. Significant stations in the Travancore district include Trivandrum (1838), Quilon (1821) and Neyyoor.
The mission to Tamil was not started in Madras itself [Chennai] because other missionary societies were active in the city. Instead, the LMS mission expanded into the Tamil-speaking areas of the Madras Presidency to include Combaconum (established 1829 and taken over by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 1852), Chittoor, Salem (established 1827), Tripatur (1861) and Coimbatore (1830).
A mission to the Canarese [Kanarese] speaking area was begun in 1810 by Rev John Hands with early missionary work being carried out amongst European and native inhabitants of Bellary. The first native convert was received into the Church in 1819. The mission expanded to include a station at Belgaum in the Bombay Presidency, and a station at Bangalore. A new mission at Chikka Ballapura [Chikballapur] was founded in 1892.
The different areas of LMS activity in South India were not always well-defined by language, and often different linguistic groups could be of significance in a particular linguistic area - for example, there were missions to Tamil and Malayalam speaking peoples in Travancore.