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An anonymous British watercolour showing the grave of American missionary Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789-1826) at Kyaikkhami, Southeast Myanmar (Burma)


Circa 1827


Titled on the reverse: Kyik-Nee (Amherst, the Landing Place)

Watercolour on paper, H. 24.5 x W. 36 cm

The tree shown in the centre of the painting is a hopia tree, a flowering Burmese tree, belonging to the genus Amherstia called so after Sarah, Dowager Countess of Plymouth (1762-1838), the first wife of William Amherst. Near the tree is the grave of Ann Hasseltine Judson Her husband, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was one of the first and an important American missionary in the early 19th century, working for over forty years in Burma. On 5 February 1812 he married Ann Hasseltine and just two weeks later

they sailed from Salem for India to do missionary work. On board the ship Judson decided to become a Baptist.

 

The English in India weren’t happy with this American missionary and in 1813 the Judson’s moved on to Burma. On board the ship Ann had a miscarriage. In 1817 a second child also died young. In Burma Judson first learned the language, wrote a Burmese-English dictionary and in 1823 translated the New Testament in Burmese. With the outbreak of the Anglo-Burmese War in 1824, all the English and also the American Judson were imprisoned under horrible circumstances. At the end of the war Judson was released in order to act as interpreter during the peace negotiations. These dragged on for months and Judson wouldn’t see his wife again. She died after months of illness, stress and loneliness 24 October 1826, and her third child died only three months later. The hopia tree, with the lines Rest! Rest! The hopia tree is green, was standing over her grave (Teresa Suttles, Under the Hopia tree. The life of Ann Judson. The inspiring story of Ann Judson, missionary in Burma. The Christian Biography Series, December 2019). After a period of heavy depressions, Judson moved to North Burma and in 1834 finished his translation of the entire Bible in Burmese. He remarried Sarah Hall Boardman and together they had eight children, five of which reached adulthood. In 1845 Sarah, because of health problems,  returned to the US but died at sea. Judson also returned to the US where he was received as a celebrity. In 1850 on his way back to Burma, he also died at sea. His legacy was a Bible translated in Burmese, hundreds of churches and over eight thousand Baptists in Burma. Today, next to the US and India, Burma/Myanmar has the largest number of Baptists.
William Amherst, 1st Earl of Amherst (1773-1857), Governor General of India from 1823 till 1828, captured this place from Burmese forces during the 1824-1826 Anglo-Burmese War. Arakan and Tenasserim were ceded to the British Empire, but the war would cost the English East India Company over 13 million pounds and contributed to an economic crisis in India. It was only due to the influence of powerful friends in England such as George Canning and the Duke of Wellington, that William Amherst was not recalled in disgrace at the end of the war.