Dorothy Carey

William and Dorothy Carey

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Dorothy Carey

Dorothy CareyIn 1781, William Carey, a 19-year-old shoemaker with a burden to share the Gospel, married an illiterate 25-year-old peasant woman named Dorothy Plackett, and settled down in a village in Northamptonshire, England.

In 1782, William Carey began preaching every other Sunday. In 1789, he began to pastor a small Baptist church. His preaching and pastoring took time and energy, limiting his shoemaking and the income from it. So they lived in poverty but Dorothy Carey did not complain, and bore him five children, two of whom died.

At a Baptist Missionary Society meeting in a neighboring town in 1793, William Carey decided on his own to become a missionary to India, and then announced to Dorothy that the family needed to move to India. Dorothy Carey, then 37, objected. Feeding the children with the income William brought home was already difficult; she had never traveled more than a few miles from her village; she was pregnant with their sixth child; and he wanted to move where? She said no.

On April 4, 1793, William Carey departed for India with their 8-year-old son. He didn't tell Dorothy that they would return or visit after a few years. He didn't tell her that he would continue to financially support her, their two younger children left with her and the child in her womb. William Carey simply abandoned his wife and younger children.

William and his oldest son ended up taking a different ship than the one originally intended, so they ended up stuck in England for a several months, during which Dorothy Carey gave birth to their fifth child, and William had time to return to her and again try to convince her to join him. This time, Dorothy buckled under his pressure and agreed to go, provided that her younger sister could come along to help her. She could, so they sailed, but Dorothy Carey was unhappy.

Soon after arriving in India, Dorothy Carey's sister met and married an Englishman and moved away. William Carey moved his family from the relative comfort and safety of Calcutta, a large city, into a rural area. He again focused on ministry, so they were once again poor, but this time in rural India, with malaria, dysentery, even roaming tigers. Within a year, their 5-year-old son died of dysentery.

Stricken with grief, herself sick with dysentery for a year, and without the sister whose support she had counted on, Dorothy Carey snapped and lost her sanity. She falsely accused William of having affairs. Her husband already had betrayed her in England by deciding to abandon her, their younger children, and take her oldest son away from her. Her broken mind surmised that a man who already did that to her must be betraying her also with other women. So she cursed him verbally, attacked him physically, chased him around in public, even tried to kill him.

William Carey thought Dorothy would be mistreated at an insane asylum, so he kept her in a locked room at his house, and translated the New Testament into Sanskrit while hearing his wife raving mad. Dorothy Carey never regained sanity. After 12 years of mental anguish, she died in 1807. Before and after her death, William Carey also neglected his children as he focused on missionary work.

William and Dorothy Carey are a cautionary tale on what could happen if a spouse who isn't called to the mission field accompanies one who is.