Newton, Robert (DNB00)

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NEWTON, ROBERT, D.D. (1780–1854), Wesleyan minister, the sixth child and fourth son of a farmer, Francis Newton, and his wife Anne Booth, was born at Roxby, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, on 8 Sept. 1780. After attending the village school he assisted his father on the farm, but sought every opportunity for reading and self-improvement. At the age of eighteen years he was called to preach as a lay helper in the neighbouring villages, and succeeded so well that before he was nineteen he entered on his probation for the work of the Wesleyan ministry. From 1812 to 1814 he was minister in London, from 1817 to 1820 in Liverpool, 1820 to 1826 in Manchester, 1826 to 1832 in Liverpool, 1832 to 1835 in Manchester, 1835 to 1841 in Leeds, 1841 to 1847 in Manchester, 1850 to 1852 in Liverpool. He spent from 1847 to 1850 in Stockport. He usually laboured in the towns on the Sundays, giving his services during the week to the rural districts. A clear, musical voice and a ready utterance, with a manly bearing and pleasing delivery, quickly rendered him a popular preacher, and his robust and vigorous constitution enabled him to get through a very large amount of work. Even in those days of slow transit he usually travelled from six to eight thousand miles a year, preaching on anniversary and special occasions, and collecting, it is believed, more money for religious objects than any of his contemporaries. He was a most successful advocate of the great missionary societies and of various charitable institutions. He was a staunch upholder of methodist economy, and his services were acknowledged by election on four occasions—in 1824, 1832, 1840, and 1848—to the presidency of the Wesleyan Conference. In 1840 he visited the United States as the official representative of the British conference to the methodist episcopal church of that country. His sermons and public addresses produced a deep impression, and wrought lasting good. After a life of great activity and usefulness, he died at Easingwold, near York, on 30 April 1854, aged 73. His wife Elizabeth was the second child of Captain John Nodes of Skelton, near York. They were married in 1802, and she died in 1865, aged 85.

Newton published several single sermons, tracts, and short stories. A collection of sermons entitled ‘Sermons on special and ordinary Occasions,’ edited by the Rev. Dr. J. H. Rigg, with a preface, was published, London, 1856, 12mo.

[Life of the Rev. Robert Newton, D.D., by Thomas Jackson, London, 1855; Stevens's Hist. of Methodism.]

W. B. L.