Thomas Haweis

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Thomas Haweis
Haweis by Bocquet after Edridge.jpg
Church of England minister and evangelist
Born January 1, 1734 (1734-01)
Redruth, Cornwall, England
Died February 11, 1820(1820-02-11) (aged 86)
Bath, Somerset, England

Thomas Haweis (c.1734–1820), surname pronounced to rhyme with "pause") was born in Redruth, Cornwall, on 1 January 1734, where he was baptised on 20 February 1734.[1] As a Church of England minister he is one of the leading figures of the 18th century evangelical revival and a key figure in the histories of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, the Free Church of England and the London Missionary Society.

Early life and conversion to evangelical Christianity

He was the son of a solicitor, who was able to have him educated at Truro Grammar School, but, after his father's death, his mother was too poor to send him to university and so, after an apprenticeship, he practised for some time as an apothecary and physician. Guided by George Conon, the Master of Truro Grammar School, Haweis was introduced to the doctrines of the evangelical revival.

Sponsored by the Reverend Joseph Jane of St Mary Magdalene Parish Church in Oxford, in 1748 he entered Christ's College. There he organised a prayer group often seen as a successor to the Wesleys' "Holy Club". After graduation, he was ordained into the Church of England by the Bishop of Oxford in 1757 to serve as curate to Joseph Jane.

In 1762, he was appointed to the Lock Hospital, London, under the guidance of the Chaplain, Martin Madan. At this time he met Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon and preached in many of her chapels. Although offered an incumbency in Philadelphia by George Whitefield, he opted instead to become Rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle, in 1764, retaining the living until his death in 1820.

Countess of Huntingdon's connexion

In 1774 he was appointed Chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon. He insisted that no one other than a Church of England clergyman be allowed to preach in any chapel where he ministered. However, once the chapels forming the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection were forced to register as dissenting chapels, Haweis withdrew from her service.

By her will, the Countess of Huntingdon left management of the Connexion to four trustees. The Principal Trustee appointed was, most unexpectedly, Thomas Haweis, who continued to preside over the Connexion, comprising at that time about 120 chapels, even though he continued as a Church of England priest. He made every effort to ensure the Connexion kept as close to the Church of England as was possible and that only the Book of Common Prayer was used. Many of these chapels became part of the Free Church of England in 1863.[2]

Haweis was also one of the founding fathers of the Missionary Society.


Haweis published several prose works, including:

  • Evangelical Principles and Practice (1762)
  • A History of the Church
  • A Translation of the New Testament (1795)[3]
  • A Commentary on the Holy Bible

Haweis' 14 sermons in "Evangelical Principles and Practice" formed part of the standard training materials for Connexion ordinands, akin to John Wesley's 44 sermons.

Haweis' hymns, a few of which are of more than ordinary merit, were published in his "Carmina Christi; or Hymns to the Saviour".[4] This edition consisted of 139 hymns which was enlarged to 256 hymns in 1808. One of the most popular of his hymns is "Behold the Lamb of God". This hymn is included in 'Spiritual Songs' no. 405. It is based on St. John 1:29.[5] "Hark the Glad Sound!The Savior Comes" is another often used Christmas hymn that he wrote when he was 58 years old (1734). It can be found in the Lutheran Hymnal Copyright 1941 by Concordia Publishing House.

Haweis died in Bath on 11 February 1820 and is buried at Bath Abbey.[1]


There is just one biography[6] of Haweis. Summaries of his work are given by Bishop Frank Vaughan[7] and by Bishop John Fenwick in their works on the Free Church of England,[8] used in this article.


  1. ^ a b "[4784] Bath Abbey : Thomas Haweis".
  2. ^ The Reverend Dr John Fenwick, "The Free Church of England", T & T Clark, London, 2004.
  3. ^ Haweis, Thomas (30 March 2010). "A Translation of the New Testament from the original Greek Humbly Attempted with a View to Assist the Unlearned with Clearer and More Explicit Views of the Mind of the Spirit in the Scriptures of Truth" – via Project Gutenberg. line feed character in |title= at position 59 (help)
  4. ^ Thomas Haweis, "Carmina Christi; or Hymns to the Saviour", S. Hayward, Bath, 1792
  5. ^ "Biography of Thomas Haweis, 1732-1820. (Spiritual Songsters)".
  6. ^ Arthur Skevington Wood, Thomas Haweis 1734-1820, SPCK, 1957
  7. ^ The Right Reverend Frank Vaughan, A History of the Free Church of England, FCE Publications, Second edition, 1960
  8. ^ The Right Reverend Dr John Fenwick, The Free Church of England, T & T Clark, London, 2004.

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