John Newton 1725-1807

John Newton was born in Wapping, London. By the age of eleven he was serving on his father’s ship sailing to the Mediterranean.

Later he was press ganged onto HMS Harwich eventually being exchanged for a merchant seaman. He resumed life in the maritime trade working on the West African coast buying slaves. For a time he was ‘enslaved’ himself and forced to work on a plantation. In 1747 he was rescued and returned to England on a ship called the ‘Greyhound’. The ‘Greyhound’ traded on gold, ivory, beeswax and dyer’s wood (an ingredient used in the dying industry).

In 1748, once again on board the ‘Greyhound’ on its way across the Atlantic from Brazil back to Liverpool, Newton and most of the rest of the crew survived a terrible storm at sea which lasted a month. During this ordeal he prayed, for the first time since childhood, to be saved. Commentators believe that this ‘re awakening of his faith’ ultimately led to his evangelism.

He became an Anglican curate and later staunch abolitionist. He also wrote one of the most popular hymns in the English language – ‘Amazing Grace.’

To learn more about Newton and his impact in Belfast, book the ANTI SLAVERY BELFAST TOUR!

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