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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

William Johnson Fox (1786–1864)

IN strong contrast to the sentimental school of religious poetry come the hymns of William Johnson Fox, who was born at Wrentham on the 1st of March, 1786. Educated at a chapel school in Norwich, he worked his way from the position of an errand boy to that of a clerk in a bank, employing all his leisure in self-culture and studying mathematics, Latin, and Greek. In 1806 he entered the Independent College at Homerton under Dr. Pye Smith, and in 1810 became pastor of a Church at Fareham. Two years later, having declared for Unitarianism, he became pastor of the Unitarian Church, Chichester, whence he removed to Parliament Court Chapel, London, in 1817. In 1824 he migrated with his Church to a new building erected for him at South Place, Finsbury, with which his name became permanently associated. Here he gave much time to literature and politics; became editor, and afterwards proprietor, of the Monthly Repository, in connection with which he gathered round him a staff of writers, which included John Stuart Mill, Harriet Martineau, Crabb Robinson, Robert Browning, Sarah Flower Adams, and others. For the details of his literary and political career the reader is referred to an article by Dr. Garnett in “The Dictionary of National Biography,” from which these facts are taken. Suffice it to say here that he became a regular contributor to the Morning Chronicle and later to the Daily News, a leader of the anti-Corn-Law movement 1840, and Member of Parliament for Oldham 1847. He died on the 3rd of June, 1864.

For the use of his congregation at South Place, he prepared and published a book of hymns and anthems, which contained a number of original hymns, of which the following are examples.