Engraving of The Revd. Dr. Robert Newton (1780-1854). He was the son of a farmer, and was converted to Methodism in 1798. After becoming a minister, he served primarily in northern circuits and raised large sums for overseas missionary work. Apparently he was handsome, and a persuasive preacher with a powerful voice, described by Benjamin Gregory in 1841 as 'the grandest figure and the best-loved preacher in the whole Connexion'.
Over the years, Newton opened numerous chapels and became repeatedly secretary of the Methodist Conference. Unusually, he served as President of the Conference four times (in 1824, 1832, 1840 and 1848).
The following description by a contemporary provides an interesting perspective:
'He was not a statesman like Dr. Bunting, nor a man of high culture like W.M. Bunting, nor a theologian like Hannah, Farrar and Jackson, nor a teacher of wisdom and a cyclopaedia of knowledge like Osborn. Newton had the advantage of them all in this way, that he was nobly handsome and an orator by nature. Tall, with good features, grizzled hair, fine eyes, and very dark arched eyebrows, he was impressive even before he spoke, and when he rolled out his rich organ notes, he was irresistible.
I have listened to orators at the bar and in the pulpit for half a century, and have never met with such a magnificent voice as that of Robert Newton. He was not great in conversation, nor did his sermons and speeches, when examined, show original power. He had simply the great gift of being able to present commonplaces in the most attractive and forcible way.'
R. Denny Urlin, Father Reece, the Old Methodist Minister (1901), pp.61-2
See also the oil paintings by W. Gush (1993/1610) and J. Jackson, R.A. (1997/6631) in the Online Collection.