He was apprenticed to a bookseller in Hull, where he became a close friend of W. Morley Punshon, with whom he later collaborated on a book of poems. In 1859 he was sent to Würtemberg, Germany, where he introduced Methodist organization and discipline and campaigned for religious freedom against Lutheran restrictions. Returning to England, he was successively Chairman of the Sheffield, Hull, Nottingham and Newcastle Districts, retiring in 1883. His wide-ranging scholarly interests included philosophy, science and poetry. He contributed to the Sunday School hymnal and wrote a history of York Methodism (1885).