Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was born at Malden, Massachusetts, [United States] on the 9th of August 1788, the son of a Congregational minister. He graduated at Brown University in 1807, was successively a school teacher and an actor, completed a course at the Andover Theological Seminary in September 1810, and was at once licensed to preach as a Congregational clergyman.
In the summer of 1810, he believed God wanted him to be a missionary. His appointment to India followed, and in 1812, accompanied by his wife, Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789-1826), he went to Calcutta. On the voyage both became advocates of baptism by immersion and were cut off from Congregationalism, they began independent work. In 1814, they began to receive support from the American Baptist missionary union, which had been founded with the primary object of keeping them in the field.
After a few months at Madras, they settled at Rangoon. There Judson mastered Burmese, into which he translated part of the Gospels with his wife’s help. In 1824, he removed to Ava, where during the war between the East India Company and Burma he was imprisoned for almost two years. After peace had been brought about (largely, it is said, through his exertions) Mrs Judson died.
In 1827, Judson removed his headquarters to Maulmain, where school buildings and a church were erected, and where in 1834 he married Sarah Hall Boardman (1803-1845). In 1833, he completed his translation of the Bible; in succeeding years he compiled a Burmese grammar, a Burmese dictionary, and a Pali dictionary. Judson came back to the States once in 39 years and married Emily Chubbuck (18171854), well-known as a poet and novelist. She returned with him in 1846 to Burma, where the rest of his life was devoted largely to the rewriting of his Burmese dictionary.
He died at sea on the 12th of April 1850. Judson was perhaps the greatest, as he was practically the first, of the many missionaries sent from the United States into foreign fields: his fervour, his devotion to duty, and his fortitude in the face of danger mark him as the prototype of the American missionary.