Men of Kent and Kentishmen/William Huntington

William Huntington


William Huntington, or Hunt, as he was originally called, was the son of a farm labourer, and born in a house between Cranbrook and Goudhurst, in 1744. He was first an errand boy, then a day labourer, then a cobbler. He was for several years given to dissipation; but, according to his own account, being converted, he took to the study of the Bible, and became a preacher. He lived for some time at Thames Ditton, but removed to London, where his followers built for him a chapel in Titch-field, and afterwards a larger one in Grays-Inn Road. Here, though, as he confesses, an ignorant man, he attracted large congregations by a colloquial and homely style of eloquence popular with the vulgar. He died at Tunbridge Wells in 1813. He was a singular personage, "singular in his outset and career, singular in his opinions, singular in his appearance, singular in his chapel and style of preaching," and to this singularity he doubtless owed such success as attended him. He signed himself W. Huntington, S.S. (Sinner Saved), and caused the same letters to be engraved on bis belongings, and, when he became wealthy, on the panels of his carriage and the harness of his horses. He wrote, as he himself tells us, "more than a hundred little books, calculated," as he thinks, "to suit the earnest enquirer, the soul in bondage, in the furnace, in the path of tribulation, or in the stronghold of Satan." These works were edited by his son, Ebenezer, in 1838, and they were reviewed, with an account of the Author, by Robert Southey in the "Quarterly Review," vol. xxiv, (q. v.)