Lacroix, Alphonse François (DNB00)


LACROIX, ALPHONSE FRANÇOIS (1799–1859), missionary, born in the canton of Neuchâtel on 10 May 1799, was educated there under the care of his uncle until he was seventeen years of age. In 1816 he went to Amsterdam as a tutor, and while there was stirred by the news of the overthrow of idolatry in Tahiti to offer himself for missionary labour. He was first appointed an agent of the Netherlands Missionary Society at Chinsurah, near Calcutta, but on the cession of the settlement to the East India Company he transferred his services to the London Missionary Society, and became a British subject. He married at Chinsurah, and continued there until 1827, when he removed to Calcutta, the principal sphere of his labours. While at Calcutta he inaugurated a remarkable religious movement in the small but numerous villages to the south and east of the metropolis as well as in the district of the Sunderbunds. He also preached with success in Saugor Island, made various itinerant visits to the rivers Isamutty and Mattabhanga, and devoted his leisure to revising the Bengali scriptures and to training native preachers. During the thirty-eight years that he was thus honourably employed he paid only one visit to Europe, in 1842–3, when he spent his holiday in Switzerland, France, and England, and aroused an especial interest in his mission work throughout Switzerland, and particularly at Geneva. He pursued his pastorate of the native churches at Calcutta until his death there on 8 July 1859. He was tall and handsome, and of dignified presence, and was an animated, natural, and expressive preacher. He spoke English well, but felt more free in expressing himself on the continent in French, or at Calcutta in Bengali, of which language he was a perfect master.

[Brief Memorials of the Rev. Alphonse François Lacroix, by the Rev. Dr. Mullens, London Missionary Society; Chronicle of London Missionary Society, art. iv., by the Rev. E. Storrow, L.M.S., February 1882.]

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