Horatio Orton's Childhood Richard Standing June 2023
In your article about Horatio Orton I saw that he was baptised at St Mary Woolnoth Church in 1801. It is likely that he was baptised by the anti-slavery campaigner and writer of Amazing Grace, John Newton, who was rector there from 1779 until his death in 1807. Because I am a London Underground enthusiast, I am aware that at one time the City and South London Railway had wanted to purchase and demolish the church to make way for their underground station at Bank. However, there was an outcry at the prospect of the church being demolished and instead the railway bought just the crypt, reinterred the bodies elsewhere, and was converted into a ticket hall! One of the bodies that was reinterred was that of John Newton
John Newton (1725-1807) was a most complicated man. He was an ex-sailor, captain of slave ships and owner of slavery assets. He had an epiphany when his ship was nearly wrecked and he converted to Christianity. He became a Church of England cleric and a staunch supporter of abolition. He became an inspiration to several others. His preaching influenced Thomas Scott, founder of the Church Missionary Society, and he became confidante and friend to William Wilberforce. John Newton was renowned in his lifetime and Horatio’s baptism may have been a statement about the Orton family’s beliefs.