Born in Stepney, East London and brought up at Epping, he was employed in an accountant's office in London and was articled as a solicitor. In 1833 he emigrated to Hobart, Tasmania, where he worked in a legal office, but also learned the building trade. In 1838 he moved to Port Philip, where he invested in land, and ran an ironmongery business, being too late to engage in land speculation.
In 1840 he arrived in Port Nicholson, New Zealand and is said to have helped establish Methodist services in the Hutt Valley. Moving to Auckland in January 1841, he purchased property on the main street and erected buildings with timber he had shipped from the Hutt. A venture shipping vegetables to the gold-diggings in California failed, but he was a partner in the building of New Zealand's first steamboat.He was one of the foundation members of the WM society in Auckland and a trustee of the first chapel, built in 1843. When the WMMS decided to reduce the number of missionaries for economic reasons, he was one of a group of businessmen who each subscribed £100 to maintain the existing staff. Returning from a period in Melbourne in 1855, he concentrated on large business projects such as the establishment of the New Zealand Insurance Company, the Bank of New Zealand, the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company and projects on the Tames goldfields.
He was described as a shrewd businessman and a devout Christian and was for many years a class leader. Living later in the suburb of Grafton, he and his family took a lead in building a church there in 1884. It was said of him that 'nothing interfered with his religious duties there'. But despite his generosity, he disliked elaborate church buildings and that may account for the muted tribute paid to him when he died on 15 April 1885.