Born c.1783 in Co. Tyrone, Ireland, he was one of the pioneer missionaries accompanying Thomas Coke to Ceylon in 1814. He was stationed at Matara, before returning to Galle, where he took charge of the Wesleyan Boys' School (now Richmond College). Later he transferred to Trincomalee and then to Colpetty to the south of Colombo.
In 1821 he left Ceylon for Australia. Arriving in Sydney on 4 November 1822, he was appointed General Superintendent of the New South Wales Mission and in 1825 Chairman of the New South Wales District. But asthma and depression limited his energy and efficiency. In 1831 his leadership was criticized by the Missionary Committee in London, and he was called back to London for questioning, despite strongly worded support from New South Wales. He chose retirement, and after several years died at the home he had built in Macdonaldtown (now Erskineville), Sydney, on 20 April 1834.