2020 marks 175th anniversary of Sarah Hall Boardman Judson’s death

Sarah Hall Boardman Judson (1803–1845) was an American missionary, writer and translator. She was the second wife of Adoniram Judson, the first foreign missionary from America, who served in Burma.

This year is the 175th year of her death.

The oldest of 13 children, Sarah was born on Nov. 4, 1803, to Ralph and Abiah Hall in Alstead, New Hampshire. The family later moved to Salem, Massachusetts.

Time at home

Although she briefly attended a female seminary, she educated herself at home and spent much time caring for her siblings. She published poetry in two Christian magazines.

When she was 17, she joined the First Baptist Church of Salem and became a Sunday School teacher.

She felt a call to missions as a teenager.

In 1823, she met her heroine, Ann Judson, the first wife of Adoniram Judson. (Ann died in 1826.)

Serving in Burma

On July 4, 1825, Sarah married Baptist missionary George Boardman. One week after their wedding, they sailed to Burma (now Myanmar).

They arrived in Calcutta, India, in 1825 and remained there until 1827 because of the Anglo-Burmese War. After arriving in Burma, their missionary work began in Maulmain.

Since George wanted to evangelize the Karen people, they started a station at Tavoy. A year later, a revolt occurred, and they returned to Maulmain.

The Boardmans had three children: two died young and George Dana Boardman became a Baptist minister in Philadelphia.

In 1830, still weak after a serious illness, Sarah traveled with her feeble husband on his last journey to the Karen people.

From his cot, he witnessed more than 50 people being baptized. He died on Feb. 11, 1831. After his death, Sarah continued her missionary work at Tavoy.

Three years later she married the widowed Judson on June 10, 1834. They experienced a happy marriage, with Sarah balancing family and missionary responsibilities.

Eight children

They had eight children, three of whom died in infancy.

Sarah translated Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” and the New Testament into the Peguan language.

She wrote a hymnbook and volumes of Scripture questions for Sunday School classes. She also helped Judson with his translation work.

Final years

In December 1844, after the birth of their last child, Sarah contracted a chronic disease. Physicians thought a voyage to America would help her.

Traveling with her family, she died on Sept. 1, 1845. She was buried on the island of St. Helena, where Napoleon had spent his last days in exile.

Judson’s third wife, Emily Chubbuck Judson, published a book in 1848 about Sarah’s 21 years of extraordinary missionary work.

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