biography of John Newton


A Father's Day Tribute to John Newton
1700's English pastor, adoptive father and hymn writer of the world famous hymn, "Amazing Grace"
by Sylvia Cochran 

The name John Newton may ring a bell for some...actually, anyone whose eyes ever strayed to the bottom of the page of the church hymnal while singing the unforgettable moving hymn “Amazing Grace,” should recognize it. Mr. Newton (1725-1807) penned it in 1779. Lest anyone thinks of him as a “milquetoast“ kind of minister who hasn‘t seen a hard day in his life, please remember that this John Newton:

* lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his non-Christian father,
* went to sea when he was only eleven years of age, after only a couple of years of formal education
* deserted from the British Navy and was captured and flogged
* lived as a slave for 15 months in Africa
* engaged in the slave trade
* suffered epileptic seizures
* struggled to educate himself while at sea

These facts are readily available . Yet, another fact that seems to be left out of most biographies, and in others only receives a passing mention, is Mr. Newton’s decision to adopt his nieces (by marriage) Elizabeth Catlett and Eliza Cunningham (who died at the age of 14) who became orphaned in 1774. Elizabeth took care of him after he lost his wife to cancer in 1790.

One might think the story ends there. Not so! His devotion to Elizabeth never wavered; not when she suffered from “melancholy” (what today we would probably refer to as severe depression); not when she had to be hospitalized for this ailment in 1802. It is recorded history that Mr. Newton, who now suffered from blindness, visited her every day and stood under her hospital window, repeatedly asking the person who served as his guide whether she had seen him and perhaps waved to him.

Ms. Moreen, herself adopted, compiled some of the 21 letters John Newton wrote to his adopted daughters. The letters offer the readers a glimpse into the heart of a man who not only loved God with his entire being, but -- more importantly -- who sought to pass on this love in word and deed to his daughters. The letters offer encouragement, spiritual guidance, yet also fatherly counsel.”

These vintage letters serve as a shining example how a one-time uneducated slave trader was transformed by God’s grace into a disciple of Christ, walking the walk, and taking on the challenge of parenting adopted children, even though his own upbringing was less than ideal. The letters further show the heart and mind of a man who is determined to involve God in every aspect of his life and does not shrink back from new challenges, not even from parenting.

So, if you are one who is wrestling with the idea of adoption, please pick up this book and be inspired! If you are a parent who is somewhat flustered with the day to day challenges that parenting children may bring, please pick up this book and learn from someone who put his faith in God into practice and allowed it to permeate every aspect of his parenting.


Compiled by Jody Moreen, penned by John Newton, 1700's English pastor and hymn writer of "Amazing Grace"
Pleasant Word (a division of Winepress Publishing)
December 31, 2004
Christian Living/Parenting


Sylvia Cochran was born and raised in Germany, and since 1988 living in the United States, this writer offers a global perspective to such controversial topics as Christianity, ethics, marriage, civil rights, and religious parenting. Not afraid to tackle controversial issues and topics, this writer incites her readers to think independently and outside the box of partisan politics, denominational backgrounds, social prejudices, and other intellectual blockages.

Her online presence extends to such websites/online magazines as Bella Online, Inspiriting, Christianity 4 Life, Families Online Magazine, and Suite101. In addition to the foregoing, she teaches online classes ranging from Bible 101 to Christian Parenting 101, Money Skills for Kids, and Grief - Getting Beyond the Pain. 

For more information on this book review contact: 
Jody Moreen, 
Editor, Adoption Blessings Journal 
729 Zaininger Avenue 
Naperville, IL. 60563

(NOTE: Referral to Web sites not produced by the Caton Family is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites' content.)

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biography of John Newton


biography of John Newton