Visit the site of the weaver's cottage where he was born in Pury End. See the fields and lanes where his love of plants and animals began. Paulerspury Church is where his father was Parish Clerk and where William attended regularly throughout childhood.
William Carey was born here on 17th August 1761, the eldest son of Elizabeth and Edmund. A plaque marks the site of their cottage where Edmund worked as a weaver of woollen cloth called 'tammy'. He was the oldest of four children having two sisters and a brother. The village, with its magnificent country scenery, coloured the whole of young William's life. Here began his life-long interest in natural history. The family would walk across the fields to church.
When William was six, Edmund was appointed parish clerk and schoolmaster, a role his father had had before him. They moved to the schoolhouse which stood where the school playground is today. William was able to have his own room here which he filled with plants, insects and birds to study. In the free school he received a good basic education. Like the ploughman fixing his eye on the end of his furrow, he showed great determination to finish whatever he started. Regular attendance at church became compulsory and he sat in the second pew under his father's watchful eye. Later he became a choirboy.
To the right of the church porch is the grave of William's parents.
In the porch is a plaque celebrating his connection with the church and in the chancel, is a stone tablet presented by the Northamptonshire Baptist Association in 1942 to celebrate 150 years of the Baptist Missionary Society. Also on display is a collection of prints and facsimiles reflecting William’s life both in England and India.
Paulerspury was where foundations were laid:
- William Carey's thirst for knowledge was awakened.
- Parents, grandmother and church laid moral and spiritual foundations.
- His uncle Peter was a gardener here and taught him much about horticulture.
William went on to create many wonderful gardens, especially the one in Serampore, India. He was to play an important role in founding the Agri-Horticultural Society in India, writing learned works on botany, agricultural improvement and forestry.
- Uncle Peter had returned from Canada and also stimulated his interest in the wider world and in travel.
- As a child William loved books, little thinking that one day he would be writing and printing a great variety of publications.
- 'Stagastagaroney' was a favourite game of chase where the caught became catchers too. Was this in his mind when in India he encouraged Indian converts to become evangelists?
- He always apologised for his own meagre education but claimed, 'I can plod: that is my only genius.' He went on to become a professor of Indian languages. He provided education for many in India: schools for Europeans and for Indian children, as well as Serampore College which was the first institution in India to confer its own degrees.
Agricultural development, literature and education continue to be important elements in the work of BMS World Mission.
Church AddressSt James' Church