Born Lyme Regis, Dorset, where there is now a commemorative tower. Pioneer in the cause of child welfare.
He became a Captain in the Merchant Navy trading between England and America. For several years he lived in America as a shipwright gaining a great reputation as an expert on all matters concerning the Colonies. As a staunch churchman he realised the importance of the spiritual needs of the settlers and left land in trust for the building of a church in Taunton, Massachusetts. He became a Younger Brother of Trinity House and a trustee of the Colony of Georgia and settled in London in 1720. Here, in 1739, appalled at the number of abandoned children on the streets, he obtained a Royal Charter and established the Foundling Hospital, a "hospital for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children". Buried in the Church of Saint Andrew, Holborn.