Benjamin Randall was born at New Castle, New Hampshire. He was converted at age 21 under the ministry of George Whitefield. Ordained ten years later, he abandoned the doctrine of sovereign election and adopted Baptist views. He wrote the covenant which became the basis of the Free Will Baptist Church and preached for 25 years throughout northeastern United States. When he died, Oct. 22, 1808 at Durham, New Hampshire, there were about 6,000 followers of his new denomination.
Hannah Whitall was born in Philadelphia. The daughter of well-to-do Quaker parents, she had a tendency toward deep religious introspection as a child, which found no relief until she married Robert Piersall Smith. They were both converted under Plymouth Brethren influence in 1858 and in 1867 they had a new experience which propelled them into a speaking tour of the United States and Europe. Their "Higher Christian Life" meetings in England were exceedingly popular, partly because of D. L. Moody's success there. They remained in England due to Robert's declining health and observed the founding of the Keswick Convention in 1874, an outgrowth of their conferences. In 1875 she published her most famous book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life (which is still in print in several languages), a guide to practicing a complete personal surrender to God's will. In her final days she suffered greatly from arthritis, and was confined to a wheelchair. In much pain, she maintained an optimistic spiritual outlook until her death in 1911.