Born on 12 April 1842 at Ashton-under-Lyne, he began his working life in a factory, then became a reporter on a local newspaper. With help from evening classes he was largely self-educated, but with a phenomenal memory for what he had read. He learned Latin, French and Spanish and was widely read in English literature. A philosophical radical, he was encouraged by J.R. Stephens and during years working in Manchester he taught at the Stamford Street MNC Sunday School. He died in a shooting accident on 5 February 1869. Little of his work was printed during his lifetime, but a selection from his writings was included in the posthumous Sketch of his life (1870).