Christian Friedrich Schwartz

1726-1760. Missionary to India. Born at Sonnenberg, Prussia, son of a master baker, he was educated at Halle University, the Pietist center. There he encountered Benjamin Schultze, a former missionary who had extended the work of Ziegenbalg* of Tranquebar (and completed the latter's Tamil translation of the Bible), and this led to the call to India. Having learnt Tamil even before sailing, Schwartz arrived in India in 1750 and spent his first years at the Danish- Halle Mission in Tranquebar. In 1760 he paid a notable visit to Ceylon. During his travels out from Tranquebar he opened up work at Trichinopoly, and in 1767 was appointed chaplain to the British there. He was therefore one of the remarkable succession of Germans who built up “English” missions in South India.

From 1772 his work moved to the kingdom of Tanjore, at the invitation of the rajah, who showed his estimate of Schwartz by wishing to appoint him guardian of the heir to the throne. The British in turn used Schwartz as emissary to their enemy in Mysore, Hyder Ali, who equally trusted the missionary; and for a period he was virtually prime minister of Tanjore. All of these political duties never deflected him from his primary calling as missionary. At Tinnevelly in the far south he appointed the catechist Sattianaden, and thus had a share in building what became a famous church. Often regarded as the greatest of the eighteenth-century German Protestant missionaries in South India, Schwartz died at Tanjore.