Isaac Watts (1674-1748), Hymn writer
Sitter in 13 portraits
Isaac Watts is recognised as the 'Father of English Hymnody', as he was the first prolific and popular English hymn writer, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages. Watts was brought up in the home of a committed non-conformist - his father had been incarcerated twice for his controversial views. He became the pastor of a large Independent Chapel in London, and he worked as a private tutor, living with two non-conformist families, the Hartopps and the Abney family. Watts had begun writing poetry as a child. The first of his many books of hymns, Horae Lyricae, was published in 1706.