The Dutch Cemetery in Chinsurah: A Digital Archive of Memories

Nathaniel Forsyth

Last Name: 
First Name: 
year of death: 
date of death: 
February 1816
Age at death: 
47 years
Full Epitaph: 
To the memory of the Rev. Nathaniel Forsyth of Smallholmbank, Lochaber, in Scotland, Missionary, who arrived at Calcutta, December 1798, and after a laborious, holy and exemplary life, died at Chandernagore in February 1816 aged 47years. This stone is erected by Captain Hugh Reid of London. The deceased is affectionately remembered by his friends. as the first faithful and zealous Protestant Minister in Chinsura.
He had a bungalow in Bandel. But he was almost always on the move from one place to another.
Place of birth / origin: 
Smalholmbank, Lochmaber, in Scotland.
Places mentioned 1: 
Calcutta. Came down in May, 1798 prompted by John Cowie's(of Cawnpore) letter to his brother urging him to send more missionaries to the country and infroming that the company was not always apprehensive of their presence.
Place of death: 
places mentioned 2: 
Bandel. He had a bungalow there, and would walk daily through the banks to reach Chinsurah. However in one of his letters to his fried Mr. Edmond, he has writtent that he would literally be 'living on a boat' as he had to permanent settlement and was alwa
Detailed information: 

He was a student of the University of Glasgow. His primary motive behind relocating to Chinsurah was the high costs of housing in Calcutta, according to Penelope Carson and not any opposition from the Company officials. Carson also cites Forsyth's letters (from 1800-1803) where he lauds the society as 'religious' and everyone as co-operative, to bear testimony to this fact. He in fact was asked by the contemporary British governor, on request of Rev. David Brown, to preach in the hospital at Calcutta. One of his letters, dated 5th August, 1800, says how he was able to make a considerable proficiency in the native language. He is said never to have accepted nay remuneration from the LMS. He was made the Minister of Church at Chinsurah by the British govt. but refused any remuneration for his services. However he eventually agreed to a monthly sum of Rs. 50.Forsyth was also in a way the first advocate of the British academic tradition in India. He found his first European support in Robert May, who arrived in 1812. His records have also rather interestingly disappeared. However, a different account is given in Neill, Stephen. A History of Christianity in India: 1707-1858. Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 205.

Any reason for importance: 
Forsyth was the first missionary in India, sent by the London Missionary Society. He was one of the earliest missionaries in Bengal, following William Carey and his group of Serampore. There was a heavy influx of missionaries in India between 1794-1833.
Tomb placed by: 
Captain Hugh Reid of London.
Notes on burial: 
The deceased in affectionately remembered by his friends as the first faithful and zealous protestant minister in Chinsurah.