He was the son of a WM tanner in Rochdale, whose occupation he followed. A trustee of Baillie Street UMFC chapel, in 1844 he became editor of the radical Rochdale Spectator and also contributed to The Vicar's Lantern, a paper arguing for greater freedom of religious opinion. In 1851 he produced Ful, tru, un pertikler Okeawnt, a humorous account of a visit by a Lancashire lad to the Great Exhibition. In a sequel (1862) one encounters, for the first time in dialect writing, alert, lively-minded urban artisans in place of the usual rural clodpoles. An unpublished account of a visit with ten companions in 1868 to the Holy Land was summarized in the Memoir by H.C. March published with his Writings in 1901.