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Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-78)

Augustus Montague Toplady was born in Farnham, Surrey, son of an army officer. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he was converted by the Methodist preacher James Morris. Upon his return to England he moved to London and attended worship at George Whitefield's Tabernacle chapel.

After ordination into the Anglican Church, Toplady held several curacies in Devon and Somerset. In 1768 he became Rector of Broadhembury in Devon and held the living until his death. Throughout his ministry, Toplady continued to preach in London and was acquainted with the leading evangelicals of the period. The French Huguenot Chapel near Leicester Square was obtained for his use and he also travelled in connection with the Countess of Huntingdon.

Toplady was a noted controversialist whose strong Calvinist beliefs brought him into opposition to the Wesleys. He played a major role in the disputes of the 1770s and his works were appearing in print until shortly before his death from the long-term effects of tuberculosis.

Toplady was also a noted hymn-writer who is best remembered as the author of 'Rock of Ages'.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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