No. 7


5 May 1786


William Wilberforce Esqre

Bridge Street




My dear Sir


I believe I told you, when I had the pleasure of seeing you last, that I should be cautious how I troubled you with applications or recommendations, in favour of any person, when the business was merely of a temporal nature.  And I hope to keep my word.


But, by this time, I know you too well to fear you will think me impertinent, if I occasionally submit to you such cases as I think may have a reference to the spread of the Good Gospel, and to promote the welfare of precious souls.  And you will please to observe, that when I have thus submitted them to you, I have done all I design or even wish to do.  It belongs to you to judge of the propriety or practicability of any proposal I lay before you.  So that if you pass them by in silence, I shall neither be grieved at the time, nor discouraged from applying to you again in future, so long as you do not positively forbid me.


I have known Mr Griffin, whose letter I take the liberty to enclose, ten or twelve years, and have good warrant to speak of him as an upright, faithful minister.  He is curate of Little Hawwood near Winslow, Bucks, where he has been useful and beloved.  His wife is a good woman, and their conduct in the parish is exemplary and benevolent. The poor have reason to love them, though their income is very moderate.  He likewise holds a small living some miles nearer Ayl[e]sbury, for the son of his Patron Mr Langston, who is now at Oxford and will I suppose take orders in a year or two, when Mr Griffin will be either unprovided for, or straightened, for his curacy alone would be a very poor maintenance.  I had the honour and pleasure through the favour of Lord Dartmouth to be instrumental in procuring St Mary Leicester for Mr Robinson, which has proved a great blessing to the town.  But at present I have nowhere to look but to you.  The Lord Chancellor having neglected[?] so many applications of Lord D[artmouth]’s  that I cannot trouble him any more.  Though Mr Robinson has been much owned at Leicester there is large scope for another minister there, as the town is very large and populous.  For the rest I refer you to Mr Griffin’s letter.


I hope you received my invitation to No. 6 Coleman Street Buildings.  I should be glad to see you here tomorrow.  Or if you should not be at leisure to come these three months, I shall be glad to see you then.


My dear friend Dr Conyers had a happy and sudden dismission from this poor world.  I rejoice for him, but I pity his widowed and weeping people.  I am to preach his funeral sermon next Sunday morning at Deptford, when I shall probably meet the largest congregation I ever spoke to.  I hope for a remembrance in your prayers then and often.


Mrs Newton joins me in a tender of our best respects, and best wishes – and in a warm desire to see you under our roof.


I am most sincerely and affectionately

Dear Sir

Your much obliged faithful and obedient servant

John Newton


ye 5th May [17]86



Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Wilberforce c.49 fols. 7-8



Bridge Street, Westminster Bridge. By an Act of Parliament in 1750, Bridge Street, Great George Street and Parliament Street were “formed upon the site of many wretched lanes and courts – a tract hitherto known by the ominous name of ‘the desert of Westminster’”.  [ The Memorials of Westminster, Rev Mackenzie EC Walcott, 1851] [return]


The Rev Sir Stephen Langston [1743-1797], vicar of Little Horwood, alderman of London, former sheriff of Buckinghamshire. Visiting Langston in 1792, Newton preached twice at his church and again for family prayers. He says he was “much pleased with my visit to Horwood”. [return]


Lord Dartmouth: William Legge [1731-1801], 2nd earl of Dartmouth, an evangelical. He held successively the posts of Lord of Trade and Plantations, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Privy Seal and Lord Steward of the Household to King George the Third. [return]


Newton was instrumental in the appointment of Thomas Robinson [1749-1813] as vicar of St Mary’s, Leicester. [return]

Richard Conyers [1725-1786], brother-in-law of Newton’s sponsor (and Wilberforce’s uncle) John Thornton, rector of St Paul's Church, Deptford. [return]