Before his conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1748, John Newton had led an adventure-filled life as a master of a slave ship. He wrote of his experiences in his autobiography An Authentic Narrative published in 1764. Following retirement from the sea, Newton became Surveyor of the Tides in Liverpool, during which time he studied Greek, Hebrew and Theology. He married Mary Catlett in 1750: they had no children. Newton was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1764. Newton accepted the curacy of Olney, where he lived until 1780 when he became Rector of St Mary Woolnoth in London.
John Newton is perhaps best known as the author of the world-famous hymn, Amazing Grace, which was one of the Olney Hymns written in collaboration with William Cowper. He also wrote some important theological works.
Newton is also remembered for his work in the anti-slavery movement, which occupied part of his later life.
John Newton (1725 - 1807)
In 1755 John Newton gave up his seafaring life and, influenced by Clarkson, gave evidence on the inhumanity of the slave trade to a Parliamentary committee. He wrote an account of his personal experiences of the slave trade, ‘An Authentic Narrative’, published in 1764, which included a powerful description of the Middle Passage. We also have first-hand evidence of conditions on board ship from the journal he kept and the letters he wrote to his wife. John Newton wrote popular hymns including ‘Amazing Grace,’ written in collaboration with William Cowper.
The Cowper and Newton Museum
Orchard Side, Market Place,
Olney, Buckinghamshire MK46 4AJ,
Tel: (UK) (0) 1234 711516