John was born in Wigan, Lancashire, son of Joseph Prince and his wife Nancy. He received some little formal education at a Baptist Sunday School and at nine years of age began work with his father as a 'reed-maker' - a 'reed' being a tool used by hand-loom weavers to separate threads.
John published his first poetry collection, "Hours with the Muses" in 1841. It sold well, running to five editions and attracting attention in London. Other collections followed, some published and sold privately by the author.
But now his little hands relax'd their pow'r—
Yet, urg'd by curses or severer blows,
Without one moment's brief, but sweet, repose,
From frame to frame the exhausted sufferer crept,
Piec'd the frail threads, and, uncomplaining, wept.
John Critchley Prince died at Hyde, in 1866, almost blind and partially paralysed by a stroke suffered shortly after his second marriage. He is buried there in St George's churchyard,with a memorial to him in the local church.
Fellow poets penned tributes to him including the following:
Have charmed the ears of thousands in our land:
He stands—a Prince by nature, as by name;