John Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807) was an English clergyman, slaveship master and author who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace" after converting to Christianity and abandoning his participation in the slave trade.
Newton was born in London, the son of a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service. His mother died when he was a child, and he sailed with his father on a total of six voyages until 1742 when his father died. In 1743 he was pressed into naval service, became a midshipman aboard the HMS Harwich, deserted, was recaptured and reduced to the rank of a common seaman, exchanged to a ship in the African station, became a servant to a slave trader, and was rescued in 1748 by a friend of his father's, being converted to Christianity on the way home in a storm at sea. The date was May 10, 1748, an anniversary he observed for the rest of his life. From that point on, he avoided profanity, gambling, and drinking.
He continued at sea till 1754, meanwhile studying Latin and the Bible. It was after much soul searching and Bible reading that Newton saw the horrors of slavery and the hypocrisy it made him feel as a Christian. H...