Thomas Haweis

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 cleric he was 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.

Thomas Haweis
Haweis by Bocquet after Edridge.jpg
Church of England cleric and evangelist
Born1 January 1734 (1734-01)
Redruth, Cornwall, England
Died11 February 1820(1820-02-11) (aged 86)
Bath, Somerset, England

Early life and conversion to evangelical ChristianityEdit

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 in 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 Church, Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, in 1764, retaining the living until his death in 1820.

Countess of Huntingdon's connexionEdit

In 1774 he was appointed chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon. He insisted that no one other than a Church of England cleric 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
  • The Communicant's Spiritual Companion[4]

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.

In the early 1790s, Haweis published two books with the same title: 'Carmina Christo, or Hymns to the Saviour.

  • A book of music,[5] probably published in 1791,[6] with seventeen hymn tunes composed by Haweis with words apparently written by Haweis. However one exception was the hymn written by Samuel Johnson, 'City of God, how broad and far' for which Haweis composed the music at Richmond.
  • A book of the words to hymns, published in 1792,[7] consisting of 139 hymns, which was enlarged to 256 hymns in a second edition[8] in 1808.

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


There is just one biography[9] of Haweis. Summaries of his work are given by Bishop Frank Vaughan[10] and by Bishop John Fenwick in their works on the Free Church of England,[11] used in this article.


  1. ^ "[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.
  4. ^ Haweis, Thomas (28 November 2019). "The Communicant's Spiritual Companion" – via Reformation Heritage Books.
  5. ^ Thomas Haweis, "Carmina Christo, or Hymns to the Savior", undated, 27 pp.[1]
  6. ^ Nicholas Temperley. "The Hymn Tune Index"
  7. ^ Thomas Haweis, "Carmina Christo; or Hymns to the Saviour", S. Hazard, Bath, 1792, 182 pp.[2]
  8. ^ Thomas Haweis. "Carmina Christo, or Hymns to the Saviour … New edition, very considerably enlarged." S. and C. McDowall, London, 341 pp.[3]
  9. ^ Arthur Skevington Wood, Thomas Haweis 1734–1820, SPCK, 1957
  10. ^ The Right Reverend Frank Vaughan, A History of the Free Church of England, FCE Publications, Second edition, 1960
  11. ^ The Right Reverend Dr John Fenwick, The Free Church of England, T & T Clark, London, 2004.

External linksEdit