John Newton was born in London in 1725. His mother, a pious woman, died when he was only seven years of age. His only “schooling” was from his eighth to his tenth year. He was engaged in the African slave trade for several years and was even himself held as a slave at one time in Sierra Leone. He bragged of his sinful nature but was converted in a storm at sea while returning from Africa. He married a devout Christian in 1750 and became a minister in the Established Church in 1758, preaching at a church in Olney, near Cambridge.