Houghton was born, probably in London, the son of an apothecary. A tentative birth date of 1640 has been assigned to him, but that may not be reliable. He died in London in September or October 1705. He studied for a year at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, but then discontinued his studies and returned to London. He became an apothecary, opening a shop in Gracechurch Street and doing a thriving business in luxury goods such as coffee and chocolate. He appears to have become quite prosperous, and devoted his leisure time to science, particularly the improvement of agriculture and husbandry. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1680, and was for several years a member of the Royal Society's committee on improving agriculture.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.