Review of D. J. Palmer, India Where the Master has Sent Me: Julius Frederick Ullmann, Missionary, Stanhope Gardens: Eider Books, 2022.

Julius Frederick Ullmann was born in Berlin in Prussia in 1817, but came to spend 57 years of his life as a missionary in north India, concluding in Dehradun in the north-east, before dying there in 1896. The author’s interest in his subject is connected to his being a descendant of Helen Palmer, Ullmann’s wife whom he married in 1851. She found life in India tough going, and her story, like that of Dorothy Carey, is a sad one. She was to spend much of her time in England recuperating from ill-health, and looking after their son and daughter.

Muslims (whom Ullmann called ‘Mohammedans’) and Hindus were not his only problems. The East India Company was given its charter by Elizabeth I in 1600, and it was no friend of missionary work in India, seeing it as a force that could disrupt trade. The climate did not oppress him as much as it did other Europeans, although he commented on the fierce mid-day heat. Ullmann’s first convert was a Hindu girl of 10-12 years of age, who was baptized in 1841.

At one stage, Ullmann sought permission to bring out Elizabeth’s two sisters to help with the work, but nothing came of it. He urged the ordination of Indian pastors and evangelists. He gauged success not in terms of whether India was converted but whether Indians were drawn out of darkness into the light of Christ. ‘I want to stand on evangelical ground,’ he explained, ‘and not on human fancy.’ However, he did later embrace premillennialism, under the influence of S. H. Kellogg.

Right to the end Ullmann was writing tracts and theological works as well as hymns, and translating Scripture. His tombstone contains an appropriate verse – Psalm 17:15 (‘I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness’) – although the mason chiselled out Psalm 18:15. David Palmer has written a most thorough and enlightening piece of work. It is one to enjoy and to ponder.

– Peter Barnes