Samuel Newell

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Rev. Samuel Newell, founder of the ACM in Jaffna, Ceylon

Samuel Newell (1784–1821) was one of the pioneers of American foreign missions. He was the missionary under American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to India and Ceylon, where he founded the first American Ceylon Mission station.[1][2][3]


As the youngest of nine children, he was born to Ebenezer and Catherine Newell on 24 July 1784 at Durham, Maine. He lost his mother when he was three, and his father when he was fourteen years old. At an age of fourteen, he went to Portland, and on a tour of sight-seeing, he accepted an offer of a captain of a vessel that lay in the harbor; consequently, he moved to Boston. In Boston, he did his schooling from Roxbury Grammar School and entered Harvard College in 1803. During his college days, he looks been[clarification needed] influenced on religious subjects and influenced by preaching of Dr. Stillman, pastor of the first Baptist church in Boston. In October 1804, he became a member of the First Congregational Church in Roxbury, under the ministry of Porter.[1][2][3]

He graduated from Harvard College in 1807, and started working as an assistant teacher of the Grammar School in Roxbury; later, he took charge of the Academy at Lynn. Having decided to devote himself to the ministry, he became the member of the Andover Theological Seminary in 1809 and graduated in 1810 from Andower Theological Seminary; there, he joined the group of Christian students, who were eager to undertake an overseas mission to the heathen. In 1810, he and others like Samuel John Mills, Adoniram Judson, Gordon Hall, Samuel Nott, and Luther Rice proposed themselves to the orthodox Congregational clergy of Massachusetts that they be sent as missionaries; consequently, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was formed in 1812.[1][2][3]

After he left the seminary in 1810, he preached for a while at Rowley, near Newburyport, later studied medicine while awaiting passage to India, and was ordained along with Judson, Mills, Hall, Nott, and Rice in February 1812 by the ABCFM at Salem, Massachusetts. In February 1812, he married Harriet Atwood, who had already joined Congregational church in 1809 and had developed interest in missions through Newell's courtship. He, Nott, Judson and their wives, along with Hall and Rice, sailed to India in February 1812 and arrived Calcutta in June 1812.[1][2][3]

Upon arrival to Calcutta, they were denied residence by British East India Company and were asked to leave; as a result, Mr.and Mrs. Newell took a ship to Mauritius. On the long and stormy voyage, Harriet gave birth to a child, but died and was buried at sea. Harriet too died soon after landing, and became the first American to have died in foreign mission service.[1][2][3]

After his arrival to Ceylon, he spent a year in preaching and investigating mission opportunities there. Upon learning that Hall and Nott had succeeded in establishing the first foreign mission in Bombay, he joined them in inauguration in 1814. From March 1814, he associated himself with the Bombay mission. In 1818, he married Philomela Thurston, a missionary.[1][2][3]

He later spent most of his missionary service in evangelism, establishing schools, and publishing the books, including Christian literature. He visited cholera victims at Tannah, and died suddenly to the disease in 1821.[1][2][3]


He along with Gordon Hall published an elaborate and widely circulated plan for the evangelization of the world entitled The Conversion of the World, or the Claims of the Six Hundred Millions, and the Ability and Duty of the Churches in 1818. He published his sermon A Sermon Preached at Haverhill (Massachusetts) in Remembrance of Mrs. Herriot Newell in 1814.[1][2][3][4]

Other works[edit]

  • Memoirs of Mrs. Harriet Newell,: Wife of the Rev. Samuel Newell, Missionary to India, who Died at the Isle of France, Nov. 30, 1812, Aged 19 Years.[2][3][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Lucius Edwin (1854). Heroes and Martyrs of the Modern Missionary Enterprise. the University of California. P. Brockett. pp. 145–195. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Anderson, Gerald H. (1999). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 275–492. ISBN 9780802846808. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sprague, William Buell (1857). Annals of the American Pulpit: Trinitarian Congregational. 1857. Harvard University. Robert Carter & Brothers. pp. 538–542. 
  4. ^ Newell, Samuel (1818). The conversion of the world. the University of Michigan. Flagg & Gould. 
  5. ^ Newell, Harriet; Samuel Newell (1848). Memoirs of Mrs. Harriet Newell,: Wife of the Rev. Samuel Newell, Missionary to India, who Died at the Isle of France, Nov. 30, 1812, Aged 19 Years. H. & E. Phinney.