Born at Wolverhampton of poor parents, he received only a rudimentary education; yet he began writing verses from the age of sixteen. He was apprenticed to a buckle-maker, but soon enlisted as a private in the Buffs and in 1757, while in camp in the Isle of Wight, visited Winchester and met the Wartons, who encouraged him to publish by subscription his Poems on Several Occasions, 1758. His next poem, The Parish Clerk, attracted the notice of Dr. Johnson, who sent a copy to Shenstone. Verses by Vernon in Gentleman's Magazine included lines written in a copy of Young's Night Thoughts at Winchester College (Aug. 1759) and a verse epistle on the capture of Belleisle, in which Vernon took part (July 1762). With the peace he got his discharge from the army, and according to Isaac Reed, was given a post as corrector of the press in London, but died soon after.