He was born into a WM family in Lincoln on 3 November 1792. On entering the WM ministry he offered to fill a vacancy in Thomas Coke's party of missionaries bound forIndia, but the vacancy did not occur and he stayed in the home work. But his interest in overseas missions proved lifelong. His intellectual ability was shown by his graduating as MA and DD. The Conference recognized his talents and eloquence and in 1834 appointed him Tutor in Theology at the newly established Theological Institution in Hoxton. He spent the rest of his ministry in theological training there and at Didsbury, in addition to being Chairman of the Manchester and Bolton District. He was Conference Secretary from 1840 to 1842 and from 1854 to 1858 and was twice President (1842 and 1851). He represented British Methodism at the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1824, when only 32, and again in 1856. He was a first-rate biblical expositor and a gifted public speaker, enthralling congregations by his command of language, his animated voice and his noble oratory.Towards the end of 1867 he collapsed and died at Didsbury on December 29th. He was commemorated in Lincoln in the 'Hannah Memorial' chapel built in 1875.
His son of the same name received Anglican orders and was vicar of Brighton and Archdeacon of Lewes. He was a scholar and author of some note. A grandson, the Rev.John Julius Hannah, became Dean of Chichester.
'He was a nervous man, who looked half-blinded, and was very quiet and thoughtful.'
R. Denny Urlin, Father Reece, the Old Methodist Minister (1901), p.62
'Dr. Hannah was the Thelological tutor during the whole period of my residence [at Didsbury College]. He was a remarkable man, a sound Evangelical theologian, an earnest and often eloquent preacher, noticeable in appearance, peculiar in delivery, very sensitive, very touchy. It was a great trouble to him if students did not ask questions after a lecture. Who that ever heard it does not remember hias plaintive cry, "Are there no questions?" ...
Mrs. Hannah was a striking personality. She was the monarch of the house. But the loves those two old doves had for each other was as beautiful as it was strong. Once when she was very poorly, the unworldly old man, wishful to help her, asked if he could not do her shopping. The idea was absurd, but she yielded by saying, "Well, you can order a leg of mutton." That seemed so simple; he trotted off, but turned back and said, "My dear, you did not tell me whether it was to be a front leg or a hind one." Who does not remember that although sometimes the lecture itself was not great, when through some question he was led out to an extemporaneous utterance or some exposition, he poured forth a torrent of eloquence with a spiritual fervency that made him seem to be inspired. Peace to his memory! Grand old man!'
Charles H. Kelly, Methodist Recorder, Winter Number, 1902, p.72
'It is interesting to notice the subjects with which Dr. Hannah dealt. The [College] report says: "He has delivered courses of lectures on the Evidences, Doctrines, and Duties of Christianity, on the proper use of the English Scriptures, the general Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Sacred Antiquities, and Ecclesiastical History. He has also had expository lectures on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, a course on Popery, with lectures on vatious subjects, such as Pulpit Preparation and the like." '
W. Bardsley Brash, The Story of our Colleges (1935), p.49