CAREY, WILLIAM (1761–1834), English Oriental scholar, and the pioneer of modern missionary enterprise, was born at Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, on the 17th of August 1761. When a youth he worked as a shoemaker; but having joined the Baptists when he was about twenty-one, he devoted much of his time to village preaching. In 1787 he became pastor of a Baptist church in Leicester, and began those energetic movements among his fellow religionists which resulted in the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society, Carey himself being one of the first to go abroad. On reaching Bengal in 1793, he and his companions lost all their property in the Hugli; but having received the charge of an indigo factory at Malda, he was soon able to prosecute the work of translating the Bible into Bengali. In 1799 he quitted Malda for Serampore, where he established a church, a school, and a printing-press for the publication of the Scriptures and philological works. In 1801 Carey was appointed professor of Oriental languages in a college founded at Fort William by the marquess of Wellesley. From this time to his death he devoted himself to the preparation of numerous philological works, consisting of grammars and dictionaries in the Mahratta, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Telinga, Bengali and Bhotanta dialects. The Sanskrit dictionary was unfortunately destroyed by a fire which broke out in the printing establishment. From the Serampore press there issued in his lifetime over 200,000 Bibles and portions in nearly forty different languages and dialects, Carey himself undertaking most of the literary work. He died on the 9th of June 1834.
See Lives by J. Culross (1881) and G. Smith (1884).