John Newton (1725-1807)
John Henry Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807)
English pastor and hymn writer. John Newton was the son of an English sea captain. His mother was a deeply pious woman, who, with much care, taught him spiritual things until she died when John was seven years old.
At the age of 11, John went to sea and spent the next 20 years as a sailor engaged in slave trading. His life was spent in the basest sort of wickedness. At one time, he him- self was the property of an African woman, who fed him only that which she threw him under her table. He was nearly killed several times during a terrible storm at sea, which almost sank the ship. His wicked life passed before him, and deep conviction caused him to cry out to God for salvation.
He married Mary Catlett in 1750: they had no children. The next several years were spent in preparation for the ministry. He learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and studied the Scriptures intensively. In 1764 he was appointed pastor of Olney, where he served for 16 years before moving to St. Mary Woolnoth in the city of London. In addition to his pastoral duties, Newton was an ardent writer. His works included: Omicron, Narrative, Review of Ecclesiastical History, and Cardiphonia.
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. Newton is also remembered for his work in the anti-slavery movement, which occupied part of his later life.