Born on 21 October 1844 at Worcester, he grew up in Birmingham, where his education at King Edward VI school was cut short by his father's intemperance. At 16 he became a total abstainer. Married in 1866, he emigrated to Philadelphia for the sake of his wife's health. While in America he joined the Independent Order of Good Templars, a teetotal organization and on returning to Birmingham in 1868 formed the first Good Templar lodge in England. As grand worthy chief templar from 1870, he played a leading part in the growth of the movement in England, and also in Sweden, despite controversial disagreements with other leading members. He also played a leading role in establishing the National Temperance Federation in 1884 and wrote extensively on temperance issues. He was a lifelong Wesleyan and one of his four sons, Wilfrid L. Malins (1874-1937; e.m. 1901) entered the ministry.
He died in Sparkhill, Birmingham on 5 January 1926.