Rev. Benjamin Clark Meigs (#266) was born on August 9, 1789, to Dr. Phineas (#132) and Sharah (Tomlinson) Meigs. He received his public school education then entered Yale College in 1807. He received his theological education at the Seminary of Andover.
With his wife, Meigs and fellow missionaries, Bardwell, Richards and Poor sailed from Newburyport, Mass., for Ceylon on September 23, 1815. 1 There mission was under the auspices of the American Board of Foreign Missions. They arrived in 1816 and stayed until 1857. "Cheerful, sturdy, fluent in Tamil, [Meigs] had an inexhaustible affability. His letters are equaled by those of only one other man for the light they throw upon mission problems in general.... His analyses were logical, practical, and honest. Then, too, his boyish interest in small things. His spirited Burmese saddle pony died mysteriously, and then a second pony. He had Dr. Green and Cyrus Mills make an analysis; they proved arsenic poisoning, which [vicious) sabotage, he discovered, was the work of his bearers, who did not propose to have the rice taken out of their mouths by ponies.... He cheerfully told how his digestion was upset by 'eating too freely of the sweet and very delicious grapes' of the land. His [mission) station at Tillipally being nearest to one of the small north shore dhoni [a small boat] ports, he often rode five miles to the shore when missionaries were about due, that he might welcome them. He saw the morning light on the ocean, clear as glass, and a dhoni slowly drawing in. 'I sleep very soundly and sweetly, and rise very early to my labors, and take my coffee at five o'clock.' A younger colleague wrote: 'Brother Meigs looks at everything in an easy sort of way.' Essentially kind, magnanimous to his colleagues, he knew the actualities of the work better than any member of the Board. He had the courage to dissent, but shrank from controversy..." 2
Meigs' and the other missionaries did not have an easy life. Amoebic dysentery, depleting heat, malarial mists, an earth and air contaminated with filth were the norm. They worked long hours and had to be the "jack of all trades." "They must be book makers from a--b--c to dictionaries and astronomies.... They must be managers and editors in the printing and binding office. They must be pastors of churches, catechists and Biblical agents the Gospel on the Sabbath from village to village, & brewers of wood and drawers of water at home..." 3
Meigs died at his residence in New York City on May 12, 1862. He married Sarah Maria Peet of Bethlehem, CT.
Their children were: