Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Augustus Montague Toplady (4 November 1740 – 11 August 1778)

 Augustus Montague Toplady was an Anglican cleric and hymn writer. He was born in Farnham, Surrey, England in November 1740. His father, Richard Toplady, was probably from Enniscorthy, County Wexford in Ireland and his mother was Catherine, the daughter of Richard Bate, who was the incumbent of Chilham from 1711 until his death in 1736. Augustus Toplady was a major Calvinist opponent of John Wesley. He is best remembered as the author of the hymn "Rock of Ages". Three of his other hymns – "A Debtor to Mercy Alone", "Deathless Principle, Arise" and "Object of My First Desire" – are still occasionally sung today, though all three are far less popular than "Rock of Ages".

Augustus Toplady had his education in Trinity College, Dublin. Toplady received his calling from God after he attended a sermon preached by James Morris, a follower of John Wesley in a barn in Codymain, co. Wexford. In 1762, Edward Willes, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, ordained Toplady as an Anglican deacon, appointing him curate of Blagdon, located in the Mendip Hills of Somerset. In 1764, he was ordained a priest. Toplady returned to London briefly, and then served as curate of Farleigh Hungerford for a little over a year (1764–65). He then returned to stay with friends in London for 1765–66.

Toplady spent his last three years mainly in London, preaching regularly in a French Calvinist chapel, most spectacularly in 1778. He died of tuberculosis on 11 August 1778. He was buried at Whitefield's Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road.

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