chapter  3
24 Pages

‘What shall become of the mission when we have such incompetent missionaries there?’: Drunkenness and mission in eighteenth century Danish East India


The rather desperate-sounding question in the title of this chapter 1 was raised in a letter that Georg Christian Knapp (1753-1825), director of the Francke Foundations in Halle, wrote on 13 June 1800 to the secretary of the Mission Board in Copenhagen. 2 Supported by the Danish King Frederick IV (1671-1730) and his Mission Board, the German-Lutheran-Pietist Francke Foundations and the Anglican Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) had established a royal mission enterprise from 1706 to 1710, beginning in the Danish settlement of Tranquebar in the subcontinental Coromandel Coast near Madras. The mission began to expand into other regions within a short period of time. 3 In the aforementioned letter Georg Knapp referred to cases of alcohol-induced ‘misbehaviour’ amongst his missionaries and linked them to fears of the decay of the Danish-English-Halle Mission (DEHM) 4 in East India more generally.