John Newton

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John Newton (1725-1807) was a sailor, slave trader and former slave[1] whose famous conversion to Christianity is immortalized in the lyrics to Amazing Grace.

John Newton's conversion happened during a storm that nearly sank the slave ship he captained. He prayed at first, and he later read Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ. This was the beginning of his conversion. Newton abandoned the slave trade and became a minister. He then spent the rest of his life preaching against slavery.

Newton helped William Wilberforce end slavery in England. Newton's tombstone, at St Mary, Woolnoth, UK, reads:

Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa
Was, by the mercy of our Lord and Saviour
restored, pardoned and appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.
He ministered,
Near sixteen years in Olney in Bucks,
And twenty eight years in this Church.


  1. old parson, John Newton, who had been at various times a sailor, a slave trader, and a slave. Brits At Their Best

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