Scope and Content

From Mary Whittingham at Potten vicarage to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. It has been so long since she heard from her dear Aunt Fletcher that she is anxious to know how she is. 'May I hope the cure of the cancer is completed?' Spiritual matters are discussed.

Whittingham spent most of last week at their dear friend [Charles] Simeon's. It was the occasion of the annual meeting of his 'particular friends from different places.' This seemed the most 'glorious' of any of the meetings that she attended there in previous years. The ladies met by themselves in the morning (about 13 in number). They began and ended with prayer. Whittingham finds that she can only find pleasure in meeting with Christian friends. 'Many letters from India were read. The news was blessed indeed. The late Mr [Henry] Martyn, who was brought to see the truth under Mr Simeon, after much labour in translating the scriptures, has entered into rest. Before his death he was made useful to Abdul Messee [Abdul Masih] who is now, with the scriptures in his hand teaching the natives.'

Her dear son John has now been placed with a pious man to learn farming - he attends much to his business and rises very early. Whittingham has much cause to be thankful that she has a son with such a sweet and industrious disposition. Her other son [Samuel] is in Scotland tutoring Sir David Wedderburn's son. Her two youngest daughters are at home, while Marianne is living in Bath - 'she wants to see France, which is a new trial for me'.

Her brother's second son Armitage has lately married a daughter of the late Admiral Sotheby



  • Henry Martyn (1781-1812) was born in Truro, Cornwall, the son of a clerk. His mother died when he was two. Martyn was educated at Truro grammar school and St John's College, Cambridge and graduated in 1801 as senior wrangler; a year later he was elected a fellow at St John's. At Cambridge, Martyn had come under the influence of the evangelical foreign missions advocate Charles Simeon and in 1803, after taking Anglican Orders, he was appointed Simeon's curate. In 1806 Martyn accepted the post of chaplain in the East India Company's Bengal presidency. After his arrival in India, he ministered in several military cantonments and became proficient in Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani with the help of a leading orientalist John Gilchrist. Martyn employed his linguistic skills in translating the Bible into these three languages, for use among the Muslims of India and the Middle East. However, suffering from a recurrence of tuberculosis, and despairing of conversions in north India, he decided that Arabia and Persia would provide a better setting to improve his translations of the Bible . He left north India for the Persian town of Shiraz in October 1810. His revised Persian New Testament was rapidly completed in 1811-12 and he also issued two tracts in Persian in reply to the evidences for Islam, and a third work entitled 'On the vanity of the Sofee system and on the truth of the religion of Moses and Jesus'. Motivated by his desire to spread the Gospel more widely, Martyn left for Constantinople, but died en-route from tuberculosis. Martyn's influence has been very significant despite his early death. His Urdu New Testament was published in Bengal in 1814. The manuscript of the Arabic New Testament was forwarded to Charles Simeon, who ensured its publication in Calcutta in 1816. The New Testament was thus made available to missionary societies in the languages known to Muslims immediately after the easing in 1813 of the East India Company's embargo on evangelical activity. Source: DNB
  • Abdul Masih (1776-1827) was born into a devout Muslim family in Dehli, India, under the name Sheikh Salih. As a young man, he studied in Lucknow and became a respected Islamic scholar. Salih was introduced to the East India Company chaplain and scholar Henry Martyn and the two became friends. In response to Martyn's preaching, Salih converted to Christianity and was baptised with the name Abdul Masih in Calcutta in 1811. Masih worked for some years as a catechist for the Church Missionary Society and was then ordained by Lutheran missionaries. In December 1825, he was ordained a second time - by the Anglican Bishop Heber of Calcutta. Masih travelled widely through India on evangelical tours and also published bible commentaries and his own journals. Masih also received some rudimentary medical training and established a dispensary in Agra at his own expense. Masih is sometimes referred to as one of the most influential native Christians in India during the first half of the 19th century.Source: Online biographical sources