Missionary Marriage Issues: What about Charlotte?

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 10 minutes

Why write a book about issues in missionary marriages when so many books about marriage are available? The reason is because married couples living in cultures other than their passport one face some issues that make marriage more difficult than it is for people remaining at “home.”

The booklets found in this series cover many issues that married couples struggle with in the mission field. Each booklet has been read and edited by Bob & Norma Jean Erny who have read each chapter as it was written. They were each married more than 40 years to their first spouses, and after those spouses died, they married each other giving them more than century of marriage in three marriages.


Resource Description


We began by asking, “What about Dorothy?” Let us end by asking, “What about Charlotte?” Dorothy was William Carey’s first wife, and Charlotte was his second. Not only were the two ladies very different but also both William and the agency which sent them had changed.

November 27, 1800, seven years before Dorothy died, William wrote to a friend, “I was last evening employed in teaching the English language to a German lady who I hope professes the grace of God. She…has been instructed in the school of affliction. Came last year into this country for her health not having been able to speak or stand for some years. Her speech is restored, and she can walk a little. Her name is Rumohr. I trust she has met with some good to her soul in this place.”

William went from being Charlotte Rumohr’s language tutor to being her pastor. Not understanding the existence of denominations within Christianity, the Governor-General in India wrote about William marrying a Danish countess “whom he had converted from a Christian to a Baptist” by “very near drowning her in the ceremony of baptism…performed by that sect.”

January 20, 1808, in a letter telling his sisters that Dorothy had died (38 days earlier), William said, “I am well aware that there is a degree of indelicacy in mentioning so early my design to marry again after a proper time…I shall inform you that I do intend, after some months to marry Miss Rumohr. I have proposed the matter to her and she has testified her agreement thereto. She is one of the most pious and conscientious persons with whom I am acquainted…and it is in consequence of a wish she expressed, that I communicate my intention to you so early.”

William’s steps toward remarriage so soon were, at first, shocking to other missionaries there in India. However, those missionaries soon realized that William and Dorothy had little emotional attachment during the twelve years of her mental illness. Initial objections soon faded and approval took their place. William and Charlotte married May 8, 1808. This marriage was quite different from his marriage to Dorothy.


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