William Dunn Longstaff was born on Nov. 26, 1822, in Sunderland, England.
William was a business man, and the son of a wealthy English ship owner.
In 1861, William D. Longstaff was 38 and married to Joice who was 33. They were living at 27 Cambridge Terrace (Tatham Street) in Bishopwearmouth (now Sunderland), England. He was living as the house proprietor. Their children were: William L., 7; Hannah M., 5; Rhoda, T., 2; and Amelia, 10 months. Others that were living there included the unmarried sister of Joice, Mary T. Burlinson, who was 32 and a cook, nurse, nurse maid, and a chair woman.
In June, 1873, D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey came to England to hold evangelistic meetings. They arrived broke, and were hoping their sponsors would have things ready for them, but instead the fellow they counted on had died, and nothing had been done to prepare for the evangelistic team’s arrival. Moody and Sankey scrounged around desperately to have a meeting and had a very meager group of about 50 that showed up. Soon afterwards, William Longstaff used his financial resources and influence to support them, and the small gatherings increased to 20,000 people in London, and was able to go on to Scotland.
In 1881, he was widowed, 58, and living off the income of land shares at 5 Cambridge Terrace in Bishopwearmouth (now 5 Tatham Street, Sunderland). His six children at home were: Hannah M., 24; Rhoda T., 22; Amelia M., 20; Earnest A., 18; Nora G., 16; Marnia L., 12; and a domestic servant, Martha Watson who was 20.
In 1891, he was 68, and living off his own income. They were living at 5 Cambridge Terrace in Bishopwearmouth (5 Tatham Street, Sunderland). At his house were two daughters: Rhoda T., 33; and Amelia M., 31; and Minnie L.
Only one poem has remained and it has had a wide impact and influence:
He died April 2, 1894, at 5 Cambridge Terrace, Sunderland, England.
Ernest K. Emurian, Forty Stories of Famous Gospel Songs (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977), pp. 128-131.
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 2 Co 3:18.
William J. Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1976), pp. 435-436.
Ira David Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns and of Sacred Songs and Solos, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Sunday School Times Company, 1907), pp. 381-382. Stebbins portrait on page 157.
Warren Shiver, 104 of My Favorite Hymn Stories, (Biscoe, North Carolina: Springmaid Publishing House), Vol. 2, No. 77.