Born in rural Northamptonshire Carey's only education was provided by his father's charity school and the natural world around him. He was then apprenticed to a shoemaker in Piddington and married there. It was during this time he met dissenters at nearby Hackleton, became a Christian and a founder of the chapel there. His interest in languages was awakened by finding a Greek Bible commentary, and he turned to more learned Christians – especially at Olney – to develop his newfound faith.
Carey went on to become a schoolmaster and pastor at Moulton, as well as continuing to make shoes. Here his heart began to ache for the millions who knew nothing of the Christian gospel. After moving to Leicester he finally became instrumental in the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. (Visit their website by clicking here.) He volunteered to become their first missionary, setting sail to India from where he never returned.
Remembered as he is as a missionary, he gave so much more to India and to the world. He became a professor of Bengali, Sanskrit and Marathi at the Fort William College in Calcutta training young men for the Indian Civil Service. His passion for social justice led him to campaign for the abolition of 'sati' (widow burning), female infanticide and the burning alive of people with leprosy. Having set up the first printing press in India, he translated the Bible into many Indian languages. He also translated Indian classical literature and traditional stories as well as publishing the first newspaper in Bengali. His passion for education led to schools being set up – for boys and girls – as well as the establishment of Serampore College, the first college in India to teach a wide range of subjects in vernacular languages and to confer degrees. Carey's interest in botany led him to found the Agro-Horticultural Society of India and to produce books on both science and natural history.
The influence of this great man on the spiritual, social and economic development of India is a lasting legacy.