He was born at Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland. Trained initially as a doctor, he earned the MD degree, but in 1834 gave up medical practice and entered the ministry under the Irish Conference, serving in the Belfast, Dublin and Enniskillen Circuits until 1842. He was then appointed co-editor of the WM newspaper The Watchman and took over the editorship from its first editor Humphry Sandwith. He held this position until 1848 during a time of considerable rivalry between his paper and other Methodist journals, seeking to counter the conservative stance of The Watchman. He appears to have resigned from the ministry in 1843, but while in London was appointed a lay member of two important connexional committees, the Committee of Privileges and the management committee for the Southern Branch of the Theological Institution (Richmond College).
He was invited by a prominent Irish-born WM printer and publisher John Williamson to come to Auckland and take over the editorship of The New Zealander, the country's first penny morning paper. He sailed with his wife and children on the Jane Catherineand arrived in New Zealand on 28 June 1849. He held the post until 1855, when he was appointed Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the Auckland Province. While in Auckland he was closely associated with the social movements of the time, playing a leading role in the YMCA and, with his wife Horatia Marian, in the Ladies' Benevolent Society. In 1866 he moved to Wellington to become the Registrar General for the colony. He was described as probably the most eloquent speaker of his time in New Zealand. He died in Wellington on 15 June 1880.