Image of Augustus M. Toplady


Lifetime: 1740 - 1778 Passed: ≈ 245 years ago





Augustus M. Toplady

Augustus Montague Toplady was an Anglican cleric and hymn writer. He 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.

Augustus Toplady was born in Farnham, Surrey, England in November 1740. His father, Richard Toplady, was probably from Enniscorthy, County Wexford in Ireland. Richard Toplady became a commissioned officer in the Royal Marines in 1739; by the time of his death, he had reached the rank of major. In May 1741, shortly after Augustus' birth, Richard participated in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (1741), the most significant battle of the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739–42), during the course of which he died, most likely of yellow fever, leaving Augustus' mother to raise the boy alone.

Toplady's mother, Catherine, was the daughter of Richard Bate, who was the incumbent of Chilham from 1711 until his death in 1736. Catherine and her son moved from Farnham to Westminster. He attended Westminster School from 1750 to 1755.

Toplady spent his last three years mainly in London, preaching regularly in a French Calvinist chapel at Orange Street (off of Haymarket), most spectacularly in 1778, when he appeared to rebut charges being made by Wesley's followers that he had renounced Calvinism on his deathbed.

Toplady died of tuberculosis on 11 August 1778. He was buried at Whitefield's Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road.

Books by Augustus M. Toplady

Observations and Reflections Cover image

Observations and Reflections

Reflection Christianity Religious Observation

These considerations by Mr. Toplady, and the extracts, are arranged under their respective heads. Diamonds never appear so splendid, as when set in a crown. However, when thrown in confusion, they are still jewels, and therefore worth the gathering....