Townsend, John an English Dissenting minister, was born March 24, 1757, in the parish of Whitechapel, County of Middlesex. He was educated for five sears at Christ's Hospital, and was then apprenticed to his father. Having received some religious impressions from the preaching of the Rev. Henry Peckwsell, he offered himself as a member at the Tabernacle, and commenced public teaching in some of the villages around London but soon received an invitation to supply the Independent meeting at Kingston, where he was ordained, June 1, 1781. After three years Mr. Townsend quitted Kingston and settled at Bermondsey, where he commenced his official duties at midsummer, 1784, and in which situation he continued to labor in his Master's vineyard till the period of his death, Feb. 7,1826.
Mr. Townsend was one of the founders of the London Missionary Society. He also aided in the formation of the Tract Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the London Female Penitentiary, the Irish Evangelical, the Society for the Conversion of the Jews, the Congregational School (raised entirely by his influence), the Fund for the Relief of Aged Ministers, and especially the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, which, if we are not mistaken, owed its establishment chiefly to his exertions. His sober, solid, judicious hints and observations were always listened to with profound 'attention, and his advice, which was never officially obtruded, was always acceptable. As a preacher he was distinguished by good sense and sound doctrine, commending himself to the conscience and the heart by a clear and judicious exhibition of divine truth. His principal works are, Three Sermons (1797, 8vo): — Nine Discourses on Prayer (2nd ed. Lond. 1799, 8vo): — Hints on Sunday schools and Itinerant Preaching (1801, 8vo): single Sermons (1786-1808). See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.