John Newton

John Newton (junior) was born in Wapping, London, the son of John Newton, a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service, and Elizabeth Newton (née Seatclife). His mother brought him up as a Nonconformist Christian. She died of tuberculosis when he was 6. [1] Newton spent 2 years at boarding school, at the age of 11 he went to sea with his father and sailed with him on a total of six voyages until the elder Newton retired in 1742. Newton's father had planned for him to take up a position as a slave master at a sugar plantation in Jamaica but in 1743, he was pressed into naval service, and became a midshipman aboard HMS Harwich. After attempting to desert, Newton was put in irons and reduced to the rank of a common seaman. At his own request, Newton was placed in service on a slave ship bound for West Africa which eventually took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He became the servant of a slave trader, who abused him. It was this period that Newton later remembered as the time he was "once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa." Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had been asked by Newton’s father to search for him on his next voyage.

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