John Thornton (1720-90)
John Thornton was a wealthy philanthropist and supporter of the early evangelicals. Thornton inherited a substantial fortune that he increased through wise investment. He was very frugal in his personal life and gave away between £2000 and £3000 per year to good causes. He was particularly noted for buying church livings in order to appoint deserving clergymen. He presented John Newton to the parish of St Mary Woolnoth and was a generous friend of the poet William Cowper.
His son Henry was a close friend and political ally of William Wilberforce.
Source: Dictionary of National Biography