Henry Martyn

By Internet Archive Book Images

Henry Martyn was a missionary to both India and Arabia between 1806-1812. Through his sharing of the Good News, many people were challenged in their thinking of Jesus.

Early Life

Henry Martyn was born on February 18, 1781 in Cornwell England. Henry was picked on at school and the teachers had to assign another student to protect him. In college, Henry got into fights and arguments with others. Once, he literally threw a knife at another student. After the death of their father, Henry’s sister started to pray for her brother. Henry chose to follow the Lord after being challenged to read the Bible by a Professor and another student when his father died at the age of 18.


Henry wanted to become a lawyer, but according to Henry Martyn, Missionary to Persia, “The testimony of William Carey in India, and a book on David Brainerd, inspired Martyn to dedicate his life to missions.” After being ordained in the Church of England, he became a chaplain for the East India Company. Henry was warned not to share the Good News with the Indians.

Sharing the Good News in India

Despite the warning from the East India Company, Henry decided to share the Good News with the people of India. One of the works he did was to translate “The Book of Common Prayer” into the local language. He still held services for the English, but he also held church meetings for people of different traditional religions. According to Life of Henry Martyn, “Every Sabbath he held at least four services: at 7 for Europeans; at 2 for Hindoos, about two hundred in attendance; in the afternoon at the hospital; in the evening in his own room for the soldiers.” In addition, Henry learned Hindi and other local languages, in which he translated the Book of Acts into. The East India Company saw Henry’s work as a waste.

Ministry in Persia

Henry translated the Bible into Persian. He decided to move to Persia, in order to make sure the Bible translation was correct. Throughout his time in Persia, Henry argued with Muslims about the divinity of Jesus and the truth of the Bible. Sometimes, they would try to coerce Henry into becoming a Muslim, but he refused to. Multiple times, he got in trouble and was threatened by the Muslims.

Henry intended to be a missionary in Arabia. He died on October 16, 1812 in Tokat, Turkey. Henry’s age was 31.

After Henry’s death, his translations of the Bible were printed in Hindi and Persian. The East India Company became looser and allowed for missionaries to spread the Good News.

Information and sources listed below

Gospel Fellowship Association Missions.

Henry Martyn-Missionary to Persia.

Rhea, Sarah J., Life of Henry Martyn, Missionary to India and Persia, 1781 to 1812. Copyright 1888.

Gospel Fellowship Association Missions.

You can read about David Brainerd on MissionBox.

1 comment

  1. It is also astounding that Martyn wasn’t assassinated, nor his translation destroyed after his death, and, truly of God’s providential care, his translation made it to Russia to be printed.
    Near the end of his life, his financial support had run out (for a lack of a better way to say it), he would go for stretches of days without eating – yet he continued with the translational work.
    Truly, the Lord gifted him with such a concerned heart for His kingdom (which speaks beyond is academic gifts).
    I do look forward to meeting him in heaven. Thank you, Lord, for saving Henry Martyn.

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