Missionary Johann A Schürmann (1809-1852)

J A Shurman ~ Global time line

The first part of this time line is based on the transcript of a MS written by JAS [JAS-A] in India and held by the Archives of the London Missionary Society (today SOAS).  The details of this document have still to be verified.  It seems to have been transcribed y Rex Schurmann (Melbourne) in its first part verbatim and then as a summary, due to time limits. Jan Schürmann translated it into German in 2006, with some annotations [JAS-A2006].  The dates of John Adam Shurmann's life and work in India have to be reconstructed from his letters and from secondary literature.


  • 10. March 1809
    born in the Ellerbeck parish of Schledehausen1 ], near Osnabrück, Kingdom of Hanover as the third son of Johann Adam and Marie Elisabeth Schürmann, nee Ebker.
  • approx. 1815
    primary School at (Astrup, where the Ellerbek children went to school [JAS-A2006]).
  • 26 May 1816
    Death of Father.
  • 1825
    Oldest brother converted to Christian faith and influenced JAS, which triggered the desire in him to become a missionary, but without seeing a chance for the time being.
  • 5 December 1826
    Death of mother.


  • 27 November 18?? to May 1827
    Scribe/secretary for the bailiff of Schledehausen, in whose house he lived and was taught German composition, French grammar, music and other subjects.
  • 7 May 1827 to May 1828
    As the tasks as a secretary to the bailiff limited his studies, JAS moved in with Mr Dalmeir in Hilter as a pensioner and paid 100 Thaler for accommodation, food and further education.  Developed an interest in reading mission reports and applied for education as a missionary.
  • 10 July 1828
    Upon recommendation by the Counsillor of the Lutheran Church in Osnabrück, (Consistorialrath) Mertens2 ], JAS was admitted to the Berlin Jänicke Mission School (now under Magister J W Rückert) and studied there until January 1831
  • 19 January 1831
    Matriculation at Berlin University.
  • 1831/1832
    Call to China by London Missionary Society, studied Chinese at Berlin University.
  • 17 November 1832
    left Berlin for London via Holland.
  • 7 December 1832
    arrived at London.  Due to unforeseen circumstances in China, JAS was assigned for the LMS mission in India.
  • 1833
    for some months studied Sanskrit with Prof Johnson at East India College, London.
  • 1 July 1833
    Ordination in Mr (Rev) Arundels’s Chapel.
    On Monday evening, July 1st, 1833, Mr. John Adam Schürman, from the University, Berlin, Germany, missionary appointed by the Directors to Benares was, ordained at Union-street Meeting-house, Borough (Rev. John Arundel's). The Rev. James Mather, of Clapton, commenced the service by reading appropriate scriptures and prayer; Rev. John Clayton, Jun., delivered the introductory discourse on missions to the heathen; Rev. William Ellis, Foreign Secretary, asked the usual questions; Rev. Thomas Lewis, of Islington, offered the ordination prayer, accompanied with imposition of hands; Rev. Dr Henderson, Theological Tutor at Highbury College, gave the charge; and the Rev. James Cooper of Parish-street, Borough, concluded the interesting service with prayer.3 ]
  • 2 July 1833
    Marriage to Juliana Wilhelmina Cammerer in Bethnel Green by Pastor Macauly, missionary to the Jews.
  • 8/9 July 1833 6pm
    departure from London with the Alexander under Captain Waugh. 63 day voyage from Portsmouth to Cape Town.  Spent five days with Dr Phillips at Cape Town.
    "Mr and Mrs Schurman from the London Missionary Society have proceeded to Benares to join Mr Buyers at that place."4 ]
    London Missionary Society.
    The Rev. Robert Cotton Mather and the Rev. John Adam Schürman, with their wives, sailed from Portsmouth, on the 9th of July, in the "Alexander," Captain G Waugh, for Calcutta, on their way to join the mission in Benares: on the day after they sailed, the Directors received the following Letter with its enclosure.
    Observing in the Evangelical Magazine for this month, that God is opening a door for his truth to enter at Benares, East Indies, and believing that, if truth enters, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, darkness must, though reluctantly, retire; and wishing all possible success to your efforts in sending micsionaries to such dark regions; enclosed you will receive 400£ in aid of the same, from a well-wisher to the universal spread of Divine truth.5 ]
  • 15 October 1833
    voyage continued.
  • 1833
    local pastor Voss in Schledehausen entered a side comment to JAS’s birth register entry about JAS going to China as a missionary:  “‘Dieser Johann Adam Schürmann ist im Jahre 1833 als Missionar nach China zu Gützlaff gegangen, nachdem er in der Jänikenschen Missionsanstalt zu Berlin gebildet worden war.’  G.Voß, Pastor”. [This John Adam Schürmann went in 1833 as a missionary to Gützlaff in China, after being educated as a missionary at the Jänicke Mission Institute.]6 ]

Missionary in India

  • (15?) 19 November 1833
    Arrival at Calcutta, India.  Spent two weeks with Mr Lacroix at Garden Beach (?)7 ]Contracted fever due to humidity.
  • December 1833
    6. Benares. Missionary -- Mr. Buyers. The prospects at this station are rather encouraging. The Chapel is crowded with attentive hearers three times in the week. In several schools, Oordoo and Hindee, the lads are instructed in the Doctrines and Evidences of Christianity. We are happy to state that another Missionary, a Mr. Schürman, has arrived in Calcutta, and intends shortly to proceed to Benares to join Mr. Buyers.8 ]
  • 17 February 1834
    During his voyage on the Ganges River, JAS studied Hindustani and was able to preach after three months.
  • 15 July 1834
    Birth of daughter Juliana.
  • 2 August 1835
    Birth of daughter Emily.
  • 12 August 1835, 10 am
    Death of Juliana.9 ]
  • 1835
    Translation work of files (?)
  • 1836
    Translated New Testament (to be published in 1839)
  • 8 April 1837, 3 am
    Birth of son Wilhelm.
  • June 1837
    Messrs. Schurman and Buyers, London Missionaries at Banáras, are engaged in preparing a simplified translation of the Urdú New Testament in the Négri and Roman characters. The Translation Committee at Banaras are employed in a similar translation. May these various efforts issue in conveying to the sinner the mind of the Spirit more clearly and successfully.10 ]
  • Early 1838 Letter
  • October 1838
    Benares Mission Station
    Benares—Rev. Messrs. W: Buyers, J. A. Schurman, R. C. Mother; 3 native assistants.
    The Rev. J. Kennedy left England for this station Sept. 15, 1838. The Hindustani church has 18 communicants, and about as many baptized persons not communicants. A new translation of the New Testament has been finished in the most plain and simple dialect of the country. The missionaries have engaged to take 50 orphan children, who were left destitute in the dreadful famine that has prevailed in North India.11 ]
  • March 1839
    Benares --
    W. Buyers, J.A. Schürmann, W. Penman Lyon; 3 Nat. As.; Mr. and Mrs. Lyon arrived in March of last year: Mr. Mather removed to Mi zaporo in the beginning of May -- Preaching to both Christians and Hindoos has been maintained, as usual, in places set apart for that purpose, and is the markets and streets of the city: six or seven Services have been generally held weekly in the both seasons, and more in the cooler.
    The Communicants were 18. Two conversions have taken place: one was of a young Chinese. One female communicat has departed this life.
    In the Boarding School for Orphans and the children of Native Christians, 21 Orphans are supported: satisfied, that, in this method alone, Young Men and Women can be kept altogether free from  contamination, 100 more boys will be received: these have been collected when famine has been raging, in the neighbourhood of Agra. The Girls’ Bording-School, under Mrs. Mather, having been removed to Mirzapore, a new School has been opened by Mrs. Lyons. The sum of 3£. per annum will support an Orphan.
    A monthly publication, entitled "The Friend of India," for the use of the Natives, has been begun by Mr. Mather. Mr. Buyers and Mr. Schürman have completed the Ooordoo [Urdu] Translation of the N. T.  Mr. Mather has translated Grotius on Christianity into Hindoostanee12 ].
    Visits have been paid to many Villages. In a journey to the south-east of Benares, Mr. Mather found an improved state of mind in the people on the subject of Christianity, and friendly demeanor toward the Missionaries: the state of the Mussulmans much interested him. At the great Mela at Allahabad, the Gospel was preached to thousands, and thousands of Tracts were distributed: many persons promised to go with Mr. Schürmann to Benares: one Young Man only actually went; but when he saw that the Missionaries had "fair wives and fine children," as he expressed himself, he appeared astonished; and left them, as he had thought them, when he saw them in the Mela, holy men, who from morning till evening did nothing but contemplate on the Deity and the Way of Salvation —Pp. 158, 159,175; and see, at p. 330, notices or the Kind of Preaching best suited to the Natives, Objections of the Natives, and the Manner of answering their Objections. [Pirltawardli Web].13 ]
  • 1 April 1839
    Birth of son Henry
  • 18 April 1839
    Secretary and Treasurer of the Christian School Book Society at Banáras (Letter)
  • 1839
    Visit of missionary brethren at Patua for ten days.  Considered return to Europe.  Gave up smoking and felt better.
  • September 1839
    arrival in Calcutta.14 ]
  • November 1839
    left Calcutta for Benares.15 ]
  • 16.2., 3.4., 15.4. and 11.11. and 16.12.1840
    Letters to LMS16 ]
  • 19 January 1841
    Birth of son James
  • 19 February 1842
    Juliane Wilhelmine Shurmann and children return to England17 ].  ... with two children by the ship Shurman of the Benares Mission arrived Marquis of Hastings Capt Carr.18 ]
  • April 1842 to June 1843
    Left Benares for Calcutta to oversee printing of Urdu Version of OT.  Returned to Benares.19 ] Met three young Berlin Missionary Society missionaries in Calcutta and accommodated them happily, as they reported home20 ]
  • 30 May 1843
    First printing of the Urdu Bible ("Benares Version") in Calcutta (see below, July 1844, Anniversary of the London Missionary Society)
  • 9 October 1843 to 5 February 1844
    Voyage to England21 ]
  • 1844
    According to a comment in birth records, visit of Schledehausen for two days on his way to Berlin22 ]
  • June 1844
    attended the 81st anniversary of the Hull Auxiliary Missionary Society & speaks to children (Details)
  • July 1844
    Anniversary of the London Missionary Society
    Rev. J. A. Shurman (from Benares) stood forward to present to the Chairman a copy of the Hindustani Bible, and in doing so said,— You have heard that our Benares Mission has translated the Bible into the Hindustani language. This Language is spoken by almost forty millions of people, and has diffused itself over the whole of India — it is the language of all the Europeans who go there: with a knowledge of it, you may travel from Cape Comorin to the Himalaya mountains — from the borders of China to Bombay. Great dificulties were experienced in the efforts to accomplish this work, but they have all been overcome; and on the 30th of May, last year, I had the t pleasure to write on the last proof-sheet, containing the last chapter of Revelation, "Printed May the 30th, 1843." Now, at the request of the directors, I appear before you to present this copy to the meeting, through our respected Chairman.  But no glory is to be ascribed to us. It is the Lord who has honoured us as his humble instruments in this work.23 ]
    After the report had been read, a deeply interesting scene occurred. The Rev J Shurman, missionary from Benares, publicly presented the Chairman with a copy of the entire Bible, in the Hindustani language -- a language spoken by about forty millions of people in India. Mr Shurman with one or two others undertook the task of translating and printing it from the Hebrew and Greek. The last sheet was completed on "May the 30th 1843." The Chairman said he was delighted to receive from the hands of the translator such a "precious treasure."24 ]
  • 16. August ?? 1844
    Public meeting with missionary Schurman in Temperance Hall, Wick, Caithness, Scotland25 ]
    (This building was constructed in 1840 as a hall capable of holding 1000 people for the ‘Total Abstinence Society of Wick and Pulteneytown’. Between 1843 and November 1844 it was used by the Free Church congregation, who filled the hall to overcrowding. They worshipped in the open air when the weather became warmer.)26 ]
  • 17 March 1845 - 20 February 1846
    left England for New York, USA; arrival at Calcutta January 25, 1846, and Benares, February 20, 1846. 27 ]  Vessel: Mediator.28 ]
  • 1 October 1852
    Death of John Adam Shurman29 ]
  • 1850s
    “Pastor Clamor Schürmann wrote to Pastor Goethe in Melbourne to meet his brother’s children who were arriving by ship soon [from India], being orphaned,  There was a comment by Carl S who thought one boy had come, but was sickly and died soon after.”30 ]
  1. Kirchenbuch Lutherische Kirchengemeinde Schledehausen, Eintragung zu Johann Adam Schürmann, Geburten 1809, 10. März, Eintragung Nr. 27. [ ▲ ]
  2. Schürmann, Clamor Wilhelm (Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society Dresden) an Evangelical-Lutheran Missionary Society Dresden: [Autobiography 13.9.1836].  ALCA, File: Schuermann, 1, 1. [ ▲ ]
  3. Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, Volume 11, 1833. Page 377. Google Book [ ▲ ]
  4. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 3, January 1834, Page 49. [ ▲ ]
  5. The Christian's Penny Magazine, Issue 1, June to December 1832.  Page 336. [Google Books] [ ▲ ]
  6. Kirchenbuch Lutherische Kirchengemeinde Schledehausen, Eintragung zu Johann Adam Schürmann, Geburten 1809, 10. März, Eintragung Nr. 27. [ ▲ ]
  7. apparently an LMS missionary near Calcutta:
    3. Kidderpore, including, Rammakal Choke, S. from Calcutta 18 miles, and Gungree, S. 18 miles. Missionary -- Mr Lacroix. In connection with these places are nearly 30 villages, in which the Native Christians reside. Formerly two distinct Churches were organized, but since the departure from India of Mr. Ray, they have been united. There are 70 communicants, and nearly the same number of inquirers. There are two Bengalee Schools, and a Christian Boarding School, which has been lately established, and is under the care of Mr. Campbell. (The Calcutta Christian Observer, Band 2/1833. Page 613. [Google Books].) -- 6. Benares. Missionary -- Mr. Buyers. The prospects at this station are rather encouraging. The Chapel is crowded with attentive hearers three times in the week. In several schools, Oordoo and Hindee, the lads are instructed in the Doctrines and Evidences of Christianity. We are happy to state that another Missionary, a Mr. Schürman, has arrived in Calcutta, and intends shortly to proceed to Benares to join Mr. Buyers. (ibid., Page 614). [ ▲ ]
  8. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 2, 1833. Page 614. [Google Books] [ ▲ ]
  9. by Christian ministers of various denominations, ed. The Calcutta Christian Observer. Vol. IV. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1835. Page 55.  GoogleBooks. [ ▲ ]
  10. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 6, 1837. Page 321. [ ▲ ]
  11. Published Monthly under the Direction oftho Elma Committee, ed. The Missionary Chronicle: Containing the Proceedings of the Board of Foreign Missions and of the Board of Domestic Missions of the Presbyterian Church: And a General View of Other Benevolent Operations. Vol. YII. New York: 1839, 1839. Page 75. GoogleBooks. [ ▲ ]
  12. Grotius, Hugo & Martin Opitz. 1631. Von der Wahrheit der Christlichen Religion. [Google Books].  English: 1814 [Google Books]. -- Hugo Grotius (10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645), ... was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. He was also a philosopher, theologian, Christian apologist, playwright, historiographer, poet, statesman and diplomat. Wikipedia [ ▲ ]
  13. Missionary Register, Volume 27, 1839. Pages 150-151. [ ▲ ]
  14. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 8, 1839. Page 635.  Google Books [ ▲ ]
  15. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 8, 1839. Page 693.  Google Books [ ▲ ]
  16. THE EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE MISSIONARY CHRONICLE 1841. Vol. 19. New Series. London, 1841. Pages 213&422.  GoogelBooks. [ ▲ ]
  17. Register of LMS Missionaries, 1796–1923, Prepared by James Sibree, LMS, London, 1923. [ ▲ ]
  18. Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, Volume 20. 1842. Page 154. [ ▲ ]
  19. Sibree 1923 [ ▲ ]
  20. Berliner Missionsbericht“ 1853, p53, according to a letter from 03.08.1988 by ret Pastor Helmut Lehmann, Berlin to Jan Schürmann [ ▲ ]
  21. Sibree 1923 [ ▲ ]
  22. Kirchenbuch Lutherische Kirchengemeinde Schledehausen, Eintragung zu Johann Adam Schürmann, Geburten 1809, 10. März, Eintragung Nr. 27. [ ▲ ]
  23. THE SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE. New Series. Vol IV, 1844. Glasgow: James Maclehose. Page 351. [Google Books]. [ ▲ ]
  24. The Independent magazine (ed. by J. Fletcher), June 1844. Page 201. [Google Books]. [ ▲ ]
  25. John O’Groat Journal Friday, 16 August 1844, in:  ambaile highland history & culture : newspaper index, accessed 1.5.2014.  — Date of event is uncertain at this point of time. [ ▲ ]
  26. SCHR Places of Worship in Scotland. [ ▲ ]
  27. Sibree 1923; The Missionary Magazine and Chronicle of the London Missionary Society. Volum 10/1846. Page 109. [Google Books]; Magazin für die neueste Geschichte der evangelischen Missions- und Bibelgesellschaften.  Volume 28,1 1845. Page 152. [Google Books]; [ ▲ ]
  28. The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, Volume 23. 1845. Page 221. [Google Books]. [ ▲ ]
  29. London Daily News: Monday, November 15, 1852 - Page 5. [NewspaperArchive]. [ ▲ ]
  30. Rex Schurmann, Research Notes on JAS, family data.  MS ND. [ ▲ ]

For reference:

Administrator. Missionary Johann A Schürmann (1809-1852) :: J A Shurman ~ Global time line, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2020.
(Created: 19.11.2014. Last updated: 13.02.2016.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=other_ShurmannJA&nr=505>. Viewed 06.07.2020.