A coal heaving preacher man

Rouser 2013
Rouser 2013

William Huntington (pictured) was a Sussex Calvinist of great distinction. He received the barest education, yet his writings were to earn him the accolade of ‘amazing genius’.

But Roger Homan, writing in the Sussex Archaeological Collections, says: ‘Though normally fearless in public utterance, he was an emotional person who declined to preach at funerals.’

When he could find work, he laboured as a gardener and unloaded coal barges.

And he could write too. Rouser’s favourite title of his is An Answer to Fools and a Word to the Wise.

He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1813 and a throng of 2,000 followed his hearse the 24 miles from there to the Jireh Chapel in Lewes for his funeral. His epitaph, which he had dictated a little while before his death, opens with his customary irony:

‘Here lies the Coalheaver,

Belovedof his God but abhorred of men....’

Quite a man.