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Charles Grant (1746-1823)

Charles Grant was born at Glen Urquhart in Scotland, the son of the Jacobite Alexander Grant who was killed at the battle of Culloden, a day after his son was born.

Raised by his uncle, Grant travelled to India in 1767 in the military service of the East India Company.

His conversion was a result of the trauma caused by his dissolute lifestyle and the premature deaths of two of his sons. One aspect of his new faith was a conviction that the British had an obligation to spread the gospel in their Indian Empire and this became one of the driving forces of his life.

After making a considerable fortune and reaching high rank, Grant returned home in 1792 and published a tract entitled Observations among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain... In this influential work, Grant outlined his view that Indians had been corrupted by their false religion and that the British must correct this situation by promoting the spread of Christianity.

The Clapham sect and their associates responded to Grant's call and helped to make the evangelisation of India second only to the abolition of slavery in the list of evangelical concerns.

It was however a controversial issue in light of the traditional reluctance of the British to interfere with Native customs and it was not until 1813 that missionaries were finally allowed to work in India and a financial grant made towards education.

Grant was concerned that evangelical clergymen be sent into the mission field and took a strong personal interest in selection. Among his appointees were Henry Martyn and Claudius Buchanan.

Two of Grant's sons were also supporters of the evangelical cause. One of them, Robert, went on to become the Governor of Bombay and also wrote the hymn "O worship the King, all glorious above".

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Dictionary of National Biography

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