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Adoniram Judson Edit Profile

missionary , congregationalist

Adoniram Judson, was a Baptist missionary, the first American clergyman to devote himself to Christianizing Burma.


Judson was born on August 9, 1788, in Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He was born to Adoniram Judson, Sr. , a Congregational minister, and Abigail (née Brown).


He entered the sophomore class of Brown University at the age of 16. He graduated at Brown University in 1807, was successively a school teacher and an actor, completed a course at the Andover Theological Seminary in September 1810, and was at once licensed to preach as a Congregational clergyman.


In 1808, uncertain about a permanent vocation, he began a short tour of the North.

Influenced by contemporary romantic sentiments for preaching to the heathen, Judson joined other youthful seminarians in forming the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810).

The ship on which Judson sailed was captured by a French vessel, and only after 6 weeks' confinement in France did he reach London. He then returned to America, where he found the board ready to act independently.

After a few months at Madras, they settled at Rangoon.

In 1824 he removed to Ava, where during the war between the East India Company and Burma he was imprisoned for almost two years.

In 1833 he completed his translation of the Bible; in succeeding years he compiled a Burmese grammar, a Burmese dictionary, and a Pali dictionary.

His wife returned with him in 1846 to Burma, where the rest of his life was devoted largely to the rewriting of his Burmese dictionary.


  • Judson is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on April 12.

    Judson Harmon, a former Governor of Ohio, was named after him.

    In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Adoniram Judson was named in his honor.

    Each July, Baptist churches in Myanmar celebrate "Judson Day, " commemorating his arrival as a missionary. Inside the campus of Yangon University is Judson Church, named in his honor, and in 1920 Judson College, named in his honor, merged into Rangoon College, which has since been renamed Yangon University. The American University named in his honor, Judson University was founded in Elgin, Illinois, in 1963, as the liberal arts Judson College was separated from the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, which moved from Chicago to Lombard, Illinois. This American Judson College became Judson University in 2007 and now also has a campus in Rockford, Illinois.

    Judson's change to the validity of believer's baptism, and subsequent need of support, led to the founding of the first national Baptist organization in the United States and subsequently to all American Baptist associations, including the Southern Baptists that were the first to break off from the national organization. Publication of his wife Ann's letters about their mission inspired many Americans to become or support Christian missionaries. At least 36 Baptist churches in the United States are named after Judson, as well as the town of Judsonia, Arkansas. Judson College in Alabama is named after his wife Ann and a dormitory at Maranatha Baptist University carries his name to inspire young ministers. His undergraduate alma mater, Brown University, also has named a house after him, now owned by Christian Union. His seminary alma mater, Andover Theological Seminary, (now Andover Newton Theological School), named their prestigious annual award as The Judson Award.


In 1811 the board dispatched him to seek joint missionary action with the London Missionary Society.

Judson gained support from the American Baptist Missionary Union, which had been formed in response to his activities in India. The hostility of the British East India Company forced Judson to establish his missionary headquarters in neighboring Rangoon.

His contemporaries considered Judson one of America's greatest missionary leaders, and his colorful adventures, publicized in press and pulpit, helped stimulate the missionary spirit in Protestant America.

An interest in Catholic ascetic mysticism temporarily clouded his reputation among American Protestants.


His appointment to Burma followed, and in 1812, accompanied by his wife, Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789 - 1826), he went to Calcutta. The following year, on July 13, 1813, he moved to Burma, and en route his wife miscarried their first child aboard ship. His wife, Ann, was even more fluent in the spoken language of the people than her more academically literate husband. She befriended the wife of the viceroy of Rangoon, as quickly as she did illiterate workers and women. Ann was perhaps the greater model of supreme courage. Heedless to all threats against herself, left alone as the only Western woman in an absolute and anti-Christian monarchy at war with the West, beset with raging fevers and nursing a tiny baby that her husband had not yet seen, she rushed from office to office in desperate attempts to keep her husband alive and win his freedom. On October 24, 1826, Ann died at Amherst (now Kyaikkami), Burma, a victim of the long, dreadful months of disease, death, stress and loneliness that had been hers for 21 months. Their third child died six months later. She died while her husband was out exploring the ceded province of Tenasserim.

Sarah Hall Boardman, widow of a fellow missionary, became Judson's second wife. In 1845 his wife's failing health decided Judson to return to America, but she died during the voyage, and was buried at St Helena.

In the United States Judson married Emily Chubbuck (1817 - 1854), well-known as a poet and novelist under the name of " Fanny Forrester, " who was one of the earliest advocates in America of the higher education of women.

Ann Hasseltine

1812–26 (her death)

Emily Chubbuck

1846–50 (his death)

Sarah Hall Boardman

1834–45 (her death)

Edward Judson