CAREY, William. Paulerspury, Northamptonshire 17.8.1761 — Serampur 9.6.1834. British Missionary and Pioneer of Indology, in India 1794–1834. Son of Edmund C., a village schoolmaster, and Elizabeth Wells, became in the age of 14 apprentice to a shoemaker in Hackleton. He was interested in religion and joined the Baptists in 1783. In 1781 he married Dorothy Plackett and 1789 became the minister of Moulton’s Baptist congregation in Leicester. During his leisure hours he studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew in order to better understand the Bible. In 1789 he joined the movement, which developed into Baptist Missionary Society, and in 1794 he was sent to India. Arrived at Calcutta he lost all his property and had difficulties with the E.I.C., and was thus impended from the missionary work. Instead he settled down as a superintendent of an indigo factory near Malda. Started now learning Bengali and Sanskrit, and built a church for the villagers in 1795.
In 1800 Carey got the permission for permanent residence in India and moved to Serampur (the E.I.C. still forbade all missionary activity in its territory, but S. was then a Danish settlement), where he founded a Baptist mission station and a printing press, together with Marshman and Ward. Together they started Bible translations (first into Bengali) and other philological work. In 1801 Carey was appointed the Professor of Sanskrit, Bengali and Marathi at College of Fort William (Calcutta), and five years later he published the first Sanskrit grammar written in an European language. It was founded on Vopadeva. He also published several text editions, grammars of modern Indian languages and translations of (parts of) the Bible, and headed the growing Baptist mission. His great linguistic collections were destroyed in the fire of the Serampore press in 1812. In 1818-32 Principal of the new Serampore College. He suffered long time of malaria, and in July 1833 he was paralyzed. He was three times married (Dorothy Plackett d. 1807, Charlotte Emilia Rumohr d. 1821, Grace Hughes d. 1835) and had three sons, among them —> Felix C., and at least two daughters. In 1807 he was made D.D. by the Brown University in the U.S.A.
Publications: Kathopakatham, or Dialogues intended to facilitate the acquiring of the Bengalee language. 8+217 p. Serampore 1801, 2nd ed. S. 1806, 3rd 1818; A grammar of the Bengalee language. Serampore 1801, 2nd rev. ed. 191 p. ib. 1803, 4th ed. 1818, 5th ed. 1845.
– Edited: Hitópadéśa, or salutary Instruction, in the original Sanscrit; Dasa Cumara Charita, abridged by Apayya; Three Satacas, of Centuries of Verses, by Bhartri Hari. 15+160+22+111 p. Serampore 1803.
– A Grammar of the Mahratta Language. 8+49 p. Serampore 1805.
– A Grammar of the Sungskrit Language. 908+108+24 p. Serampore 1806.
– Edited with J. Marshman: The Ramayuna of Valmeeki, in the original Sungscrit with a prose translation and explanatory notes. 1-3. 653+522+492 p. Serampore 1806-10 (kāṇḍas 1–2, major part of vol. 2. was destroyed in a shipwreck and is extremely rare).
– A Grammar of the Punjaubee Language. 100 p. Serampore 1812; A Grammar of the Telinga Language. 4+186 p. Serampore 1814.
– A Dictionary of the Mahratta Language. 7+652 p. Serampore 1810; A Dictionary of the Bengali Language in which the words are traced to their origin and their various meanings given. 1-3. Serampore 1818, 2nd ed. 1825, 3rd ed. 606+1544 p. Serampore 1827-30 (c. 80 000 words).
– Bible translation in various Indian languages.
– Edited Schröter’s A Grammar of the Bhotanta Language. Publ. as a preface to Schröter’s Tibetan Dictionary (ed. by Marshman) 35+6+475 p. Serampore 1826.
Sources: *v. Biernatzki, GGA 1859, 1361-1380 (review of Marshman 1859); Buckland, Dictionary; S.L[ane]-P[oole] in D.N.B. 9, 1887, 77; M[ohl], JA 2:15, 1835, 206; *D.C. Sen, History of Bengali Lang. and Literature; Windisch 53f.; Wikipedia with portrait and further references, portrait also e.g. in Chatterjee & Burn 1943, the complete (including his Pandit) in Arberry, British Orientalists. L. 1943, 45 (engraving by Worthington after Howe).