Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Chaplains of the East India Company, 1601-1858

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Chaplains of the East India Company, 1601-1858

Article excerpt

The Chaplains of the East India Company, 1601-1858.

By Daniel O'Connor. London: Continuum, 2012. Pp. viii, 167. 65 [pounds sterling]/$120.

The tension between Christianity and imperialism remains a central issue in the history of missions. Daniel O'Connor contributes to this ongoing historiographical discussion by focusing on the activities of the East India Company chaplains working in India over a 250year period. O'Connor, formerly a college chaplain in India, notes that the book is intended to be a "preliminary sketch" rather than an exhaustive study (p. 3). The work is organized into six thematic and chronological chapters (Company, Voyage, Factory, City, Garrison, and Empire), which together summarize the experience of the chaplains in the Company's history.

O'Connor emphasizes the role of Christian piety in the founding of the East India Company, which resulted in an ongoing relationship between the English ecclesiastical leadership and the Company. According to O'Connor, this explicit interconnection between Christianity and commerce "made the appointment of chaplains inevitable" (p. 145). The chaplains worked broadly among sailors, merchants, officers, soldiers, wives, children, and the indigenous population. …

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