Missionaries were sent from England to India in 1851 after hearing from sailors about interest in the Church among Europeans living in Calcutta. At a special conference in Utah held 28 and 29 August 1852, missionaries were called to serve in China, Siam, Australia, and India. Nine men called to India left with other missionaries in October and arrived in Calcutta early in 1853. Over the next three years, the elders traveled to Madras, Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Bombay, Karachi (in modern Pakistan), Hyderabad, Rangoon, and Burma. Their success was limited, baptizing a little more than 60 people—mostly Europeans who left India to gather with members in England or America.
Missionaries returned in 1884 when the mission was reorganized. But work did not last long as the mission was once more closed on 10 June 1885. However, a few Indian branches established in this early period persisted until the early twentieth century.
William Willes arrived in India on 1 August 1884 and reorganized the mission two days later.