b Mexborough, S Yorks 1743, d Margate, Kent 1815. Educated partly by his schoolteacher father, he was moved by George Whitefield’s preaching when only 11. By 1766 he had become a Methodist lay preacher under John Wesley’s authority. His poem Messiah was published in 1787, nearly 50 years after Handel’s masterpiece. His hymns appeared in Benson’s Hymns for Children and Young People (1806) and Hymns for Children selected chiefly from the publications of the Rev John and Charles Wesley, and Dr Watts etc (1814), which was compiled for Wesleyan Methodist Sunday Schools. Although he was spoken of as a cultivated and gentle man, many of his hymns for children are in a heavily didactic tone which has not worn well. He had a fine voice which he sometimes used for singing after a sermon. No.318.