He was born at Broughton in Cheshire, and educated at the Merchant Taylors' School. After graduating from the Cambridge, he became a fellow of Trinity, then studied medicine at Montpellier in France. Having perfected his own method of shorthand, he returned to England in 1716 to teach it. Most of his poems, the best-known of which is My spirit longeth for Thee, were religious in tone, but he is better remembered for the hymn, "Christians awake! Salute the happy morn", for his epigrams, and, above all, his coinage of the phrase Tweedledum and Tweedledee.