Born: November 14, 1816, Heckmondwike, Yorkshire, England.
Died: May 26, 1880, Heaton Mersey, Stockport, England.
Buried: Possibly in the City of London Cemetery, Ilford, June 1880.
John was from an old Cumberland family, the son of minister Spedding Curwen and Mary Jubb, and husband of Mary Thompson.
He was educated at Wymondley College, Hertfordshire; Coward College (as that institution became known when it moved to London); and University College, London.
In 1838, he became assistant minister in the Independent Church, Basingstoke, Hampshire; co-pastor at Stowmarket, Suffolk, in 1841; and pastor at Plaistow, Essex, in 1844.
He developed the Tonic Sol-fa method of teaching to sing, using it in his own schools and church, and lecturing upon it in various parts of the country.
In 1853, he helped found the Tonic Sol-fa Association to promote the method, and in 1862 the Tonic Sol-fa College.
Resigning his ministry due to ill health in 1867, he established a printing and publishing business to produce Tonic Sol-fa literature.