Newman Estates

Copied from a circular letter received from "Charter Gallant & Co, Researchers & Purveyors of Ancestral Title Assets, Genealogical Researchers since 1996":

History: William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, introduced feudalism into England following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After the Conquest the King alone owned all the land of England except for that which he gave to Earls, Barons and others in return for their liability for military service. The person holding feudal land directly off the King was known as a Tenant-in-chief. To obtain Knights for the King's service the Tenants-in-chief sub-infeuded some of their land and this process produced a level of authority know as the Lords of the Manors.

The Manor: The Manor was a unit of estate administration and typically contained a village church and a Manor house that was built on land near a river or stream. Agricultural land consisted of numerous arable fields in which the inhabitants held scattered strips. An important part of manorial administration was the manor court, a periodic meeting of the tenants, presided over by the Lord of the Manor or his steward. The purpose of the court was to administer the agriculture of the manor, the Lord's and tenant's rights and duties, and disputes between tenants.

The Newmans owned several estates of significance in the West Country: one at Fifehead Magdalen is located in Dorset; the others at Evercreech Park, Sparkford Manor, North Cadbury,South Cadbury and Queen Camel are all located in Somerset. Fifehead was leased by the Newmans from the early 16th century and was bought by Col. Richard Newman in 1660. However Sparkford the Cadbury estates were the first to have been owned by the family, both having been purchased in 1610 by Col. Richard's father Richard Newman of Fifehead, who later went on to purchase Evercreech Park in 1657, and perhaps took up residence there. Little is currently known about the Queen Camel estate.

The locality of five of these estates is highlighted in yellow on the map below. Queen Camel can be found a mile or two southwest of South Cadbury.

It appears that Col. Richard Newman left the Fifehead and Evercreech estates to his eldest son Richard Newman of Evercreech Park, while the Sparkford and Cadbury estates were left to his youngest son, Francis Holles Newman. Fifehead Manor was passed down to Col. Richard Newman's great grandson Sir Samwell Newman and was sold to the incumbent vicar when Sir Samwell died (without issue) in 1747. Evercreech Park seems to have been retained in the family until 1773 (26 years after Sir Samwell's death). On the other side of the family, Sparkford Manor was sold by Francis Newman of North Cadbury in 1793 to the Bennett family who also bought the Cadbury estates. It seems that these were sold to pay the debts of Francis's nephew and son-in-law also called Francis Newman.

The Newmans also held estates at Thornbury Park in Gloucestershire and Preston Deanery in Northamptonshire, together with (seemingly) innumerable other lands and farms in the counties of Somerset and Dorset and probably beyond. These I have not yet attempted to catalogue.

In addition to these estates, I have prepared separate pages for several other buildings and locations which were owned or named after the Newmans, including the houses and locations in Somerset in which I grew up.

Page created 6th August 2002; last updated 4th Dec 2003