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Joshua Marshman Edit Profile

missionary , orientalist

Joshua Marshman was an English Baptist missionary and orientalist in Bengal, India.


Joshua Marshman was born on April 20, 1768, at Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, England.


In childhood, poverty hampered his formal education but his deep thirst for knowledge imbued him in desultory reading and it is said that he read than five hundred volumes before he was eighteen. He moved to Bristol Academy and learnt in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Syriac.


In June 1794, he was Baptised and was soon appointed master of the charity school attached to the Baptist Chapel in Broadmead, Bristol. Here he exhibited his deep interest in Biblical learning. He translated from the Latin and transcribed the substance of Arabic grammar. Through the periodical accounts of the Baptist Missionary Society he came to know about william carey’s work in India and volunteered to join him. He along with some of his fellows set out from Portsmouth for India and reached serampore on October 13, 1799, to join William Carey.

Within a very short time Marshman opened a boarding school at which the children of most of the Europeans were taught. By one year he made astonishing progress in learning Bengali and Sanskrit Language. Then he engaged himself in translating Indian classical literature into English and Bible into Indian language. Marshman along with William Carey published the English version of the Ramayana of Valmeeki from Serampore press in 1806, and its second volume in 1808. Here he studied the Chinese language and later translated the scriptural extracts into Chinese and compiled a Chinese grammar. He published A Dissertation on the Character and Sounds of the Chinese Language (1809), a translation of teachings of Confucious (1809) and Clavis Sinica (1814).

In a prospectus written by Joshua Marshman and issued by William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward proposed a college for the instruction of Asiatic, Christian and other youth of Eastern Literature and European Science. To meet the demand serampore college was established on July 5, 1818. But the shortage of fund hampered its academic programmme. To solve the problem Marshman went back to England in 1826 and then visited Denmark. He succeeded to manage a Charter of Incorporation from the Danish king Frederick VI to the Serampore College. In May 1829 he returned to India and with the help of the Royal grant he along with his associate William Carey made the mission in operation.

Joshua Marshman died on December 6, 1837.


  • Joshua Marshman was a well-noted scholar, orientalist, theologian, and one of the founders of Serampore Missionary Institution.

    Joshua Marshman was awarded the honourary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1811 by the Brown University, Rhode Island.



In 1791, Joshua Marshman married Hannah Marshman (née Shepherd), the couple had 12 children.

John Marshman

Mary Couzener

Hannah Marshman (Shepherd)

Hannah Shepherd Havelock (Marshman)

William Carey