Born in March 1803 at Highley, Salop, where his father Joseph farmed the lucrative Severn fishing. He was educated at Bridgnorth Free Grammar School and then at Meriden. His father was the organist and he the chief singer at the parish church, but both joined the Wesleyans. After his father's death he continued his studies under Dr. [Henry F.?] Cary in London, became a local preacher and, after working for a time as a teacher, entered the WM ministry, being described as 'one of Methodism's foremost preachers'. His second wife, Mary (in 1847) was the daughter of John Howard, a Tory carpet manufacturer in Leeds. During his ministry in Leeds he became increasingly unhappy with the policy of WM towards the Wesleyan Reform agitation and resigned from the ministry in 1853 to the regret of his colleagues. His Farewell to Wesleyan Controversy: being a defence of the principles of church government, in reply to the Wesleyan Magazine and the Rev. A[lfred] Barrett was published the following year.
From 1855 to 1860 he was the pastor of West Clayton Street Independent chapel, Newcastle upon Tyne, with his younger brother for a time as co-pastor, but resigned on acount of indifferent health to live in the Lake District. Losing heavily on the collapse of the Leeds Banking Company in 1864, he moved to Middlesbrough, where he continued to preach. He died on 15 May 1865 in Jersey, where he had gone on health grounds.
The most intelligent advocate of Wesleyan reform, he also published The Principles of Church Government and their application to Wesleyan Methodism (1853) . His Mediatorial Sovereignty; the mystery of Christ and the revelation of the Old and New Testament appeared in two volumes in 1863; and The Argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews was published posthumously in 1872. His wide reading during a six-months interval on Arran (including Miller's Testimony of the Rocks, Coleridge's Biographical Literaria and Hare's Life of John Sterling) reflects his intellectual calibre and the quality of his preaching.