Romaine, William

Anglican evangelical, born at Hartlepool on 25 September 1714, the son of a Huguenot corn merchant. He went up to Oxford in 1731 and was a student at Christ Church, though apparently without coming under the influence of the Wesleys. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1738 and held various posts in London. He was attracted by John Wesley's teaching on free grace, but parted company with him over Christian perfection and in the 1750s became a leading exponent of Calvinism, being suspected of antinomian teaching. His support for George Whitefield in 1755 cost him his lectureship at St George's, Botolph Lane, London, but the Countess of Huntingdon appointed him one of her chaplains. In 1765 he was appointed rector of St Anne's, Blackfriars and of St Andrew by the Wardrobe and was the only evangelical incumbent in London until the arrival of John Newton in 1780. His liturgical conservatism led him in his Essay on Psalmody (1775) to condemn Isaac Watts's hymns as 'flights of fancy'. He edited a new edition of Calasio's Hebrew concordance (1747-49) and published treatises on The Life of Faith (1763), The Walk of Faith (1771) and The Triumph of Faith (1795). He died in London on 26 July 1795.

  • W.B. Cadogan, in The Works of William Romaine (1796)
  • Thomas Haweis, The Life of William Romaine (1797)
  • J.C. Ryle, The Christian Leaders of the Last Century (1869)
  • A.W. Harrison, The Evangelical Revival and Christian Reunion (1942), pp.117-19
  • A Brown-Lawson, John Wesley and the Angluican Evangelicals of the Eighteenth Century (Bishop Auckland, 1994)
  • Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1730-1860
  • Oxford DNB