Francis Newman
1759 - 1818

 Relationship to me: Great Great Great Great Uncle Gen -5

Portrait of Francis Newman
as Colonel John Francis Newman
from Jerry Gandoflo (USA)
(see note below)
 Born 7th March 1759, at Hinckley in Leicestershire  
 Died March 1818; buried in Port Tobacco, Maryland, USA
 Age 58 or 59  
 Father:      Henry Newman c1726-1798
 Mother: Ann Underwood  
 Brothers: Edwin Sandys Newman c1762-1836
 Sisters:   None  
 Married: (1) Frances Charlotte Newman, his first cousin, eldest daughter of his uncle Francis b.1758;
d.Piddletrenthide Dorset 1834
  (2) Lydia Sheridan (née Ferguson) c1754 - 1796 died in USA
  (3) Elizabeth Hannah Friers c1780 - 1855
 Children: (1) Francis, born May 1779, died June 1779. Buried North Cadbury (see note below)
  Henry, stillborn December 1780. Buried North Cadbury 26th Dec 1780.
  Frances Charlotte married Robert Albion Cox c.1805 1784 - c.1846
  Augusta Catherine, born Nov. 1785. Buried at North Cadbury Church May 28th 1786. Francis claimed that Augusta was not his. 1785 - 1786
  (2) Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman 
alias (Captain) Francis Newman
1786 - 1851
  (3) Elizabeth Rachel Newman m. Woodyear & Larnded (had no children) 1799 - 1855
  John Francis Newman (# had children) c.1800
  Francis Hollis Newman (# had children) c 1805 - c1870
  Emily Newman married Dr. James Thomas Johnson (had 2 or 3 children) died between 1850 and 1856
  Susan Bird Newman married McClintock Young died suddenly before 1850
  Francis Olis (or Hollis) Newman (not mention his in mother's will) may have died before 1850

Introductory Notes

This page is in the process of a complete and long overdue reconstruction.

Francis Newman

Francis Newman and his disreputable uncle Frank are, with little doubt, the two most colourful (if disreputable) characters in this family tree.

Francis’s life can be divided into two distinct parts – the first 35 or 36 years spent in England, and the second 20 years in the newly established United States of America. He has left a legacy of wives, children, wills, court and other records that form a complex tapestry that is only gradually revealing the outline of a coherent story.
A chronology of Francis’s life is laid out below, interspersed with some important historical events:

Francis Newman Chronology (including some dates of historical importance):

Background Chronology


Francis's grandfather Charles Newman dies.
Charles's widow Hannah Sandys dies leaving her 10 year old son Henry orphaned. Henry is then raised by his paternal grandmother, Eleanor Newman, (née Mompesson), widow of Francis Holles Newman [unsourced information].
Francis's great-grandfather Eleanor Newman dies. Henry is now 15 years old.
28 Apr
Lydia Ferguson born. Baptised 3rd May in Corstorphine, Scotland (see record)
Start of the Seven Years War between England and France (later joined by others).
12 Oct
Henry Newman and Ann Underwood, parents of Francis Newman are married at Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset and/or Hinkley, Leicestershire.
William Pitt (the elder) forms government in partnership with Duke of Newcastle
The Siege of Louisboug in Canada in which the Commodore Marquis des Gouttes was taken prisoner, possibly, by the British naval commander, Edward Boscawen. During this engagement, the British ship, "Prince of Orange," was commanded by Captain John Ferguson.
  Birth of Frances Charlotte Newman, eldest daughter of Jane and Francis (Frank) Newman.
England: 1759 – 1785
7 Mar
Francis Newman born at Hinckley in Leicestershire, where his mother's family lived. Baptised in St. Mary’s Church, Hinkley 24th July 1760. [May also have been christened at Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, where his father Henry was vicar.]
King George III comes to the throne
William Pitt resigns from leadership of the British government
Edwin Sandys Newman born: younger brother to Francis Newman.
10 Feb
Treaty of Paris: France gives up eastern half of Louisiana, Canada, and the Ohio Valley. Spain trades all the Floridas to Britain for the return of Havana.
  First Newcomen steam engine introduced, marking the start of the industrial revolution
  Francis‘s uncle Frank inherits various estates from his childless uncle Francis.
  Captain Cook discovers Australia and claims it for the British crown.
  1770 - 1772 (aged 11 to 13): Francis attended Rugby School, England
16 Dec
Boston Tea Party brought about by Britain imposing taxes on tea exported to the American colonies
Battles of Lexington and Concord mark a de facto state of war between the American colonies and Britain.
4 Jul
United States of America declares independence from Britain.
18 year-old Francis transfers from Rugby School to Cambridge University (England) - unverified information
6 Feb
The United States and France sign a treaty making them allies against Britain.
9 Feb
Francis, aged 19, marries his 20 year-old cousin Frances Newman
Francis Newman (Francis and Frances's first son) is baptized. He is buried in Cadbury church a month later.
21 Jun

Spain, allied to France, declares war on Britain.

Henry Newman, Frances's second son, is baptized. Died and buried shortly after.
15 Apr
The Treaty of Paris ends the American Revolution.
Cliff Ranson reports that Francis was jailed for debt and released when his wife Frances raised money by mortgaging the (Cadbury?) property. Never verified
24 year old William Pitt the Younger becomes Britain's youngest and second-longest-serving Prime Minister
7 Apr

Birth of Francis's fourth child Frances Charlotte Newman. Baptized 9th May (see Newman-Rogers' Bible). At the time of the birth, her parents were living at Fursdon House in the Parish of Cadbury, Devonshire (not be confused with the village of Cadbury in Somerset).

Francis abandons his wife Frances and begins his affair with Lydia Sheridan (see Chancery Proceedings C12/629/31 page 24)
Francis and Lydia living together (with a servant) in Lowerbank’s Hotel in St. James’s Street, London.
Francis and Lydia they rented rooms at the house of Mrs Barker in Green’s Row Chelsea. Francis meets his wife Frances in London around this time - see Chancery Proceedings C12/629/31.
Francis and Lydia moved into Osborne’s Hotel at the Adelphi (not far from the Strand) .
Francis and Lydia moved back to Mrs Barker in Green’s Row Chelsea.
France: 1785 – 1787
29 Apr
Francis and Lydia move to France as man and wife, settling into Château le Riau near Dornes, (see summary of the trial of Lydia Sheridan).
Augusta Catherine Newman was born to Frances Newman, and baptized 17 Nov at North Cadbury and died May 1786. Francis claimed that the child was not his.
16 Aug
Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman was born to Lydia Ferguson at Château le Riau, with Mrs Barker in attendance (or was it at the Palace of Godfather High Lord John Anthony deCharyin?)
Frances travelled to Wales to settle her husband's affairs, claiming expenses of £16/13/11 (see Chancery Proceedings C12/629/31).
23 Nov

A Bill of Complaint (amended 24 Jan 1789 and 14 Jan 1790) against Francis was lodged by his Frances, her daughter Frances Charlotte and her father Francis. It concerns the Lease and Release of parts of the South Cadbury and Sparkford estates and non-payment of £100 annuity - ref C12/629/31.

10 Feb
Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman is baptized at Moulins, France with Marquis des Gouttes acting as godfather.
Mr William Loveridge, solicitor acting on behalf of her husband Henry Sheridan, hands a summons to Lydia to initiate divorce proceedings.
Francis, Lydia and child returned to England (date given in C12/629/31), taking lodgings at a house in Brompton Row, Hyde Park.
England: 1787 – c.1795
Francis and Lydia's presence in London was "discovered" by a Mr Brewer acting on behalf of Henry Sheridan.
Lydia attends court to answer a charge of adultery. Henry Sheridan granted a divorce plus damages of £2000 against Francis Newman .
7 Aug
Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman baptised into the Church of England (location unknown) - see copy of entry (supplied by Harold Biggs, Aug 2019).
House of Lords confirms Lydia's divorce - see British History OnLine's website.
14 Jun
Storming of the Bastille in Paris marks beginning of the French Revolution.
16 Sep

Francis was in Bath, Somerset, answering his wife's Bill of Complaint to the Chancery court - ref C12/629/31.

27 Oct
James and Catherine Rogers lodge a Bill of Complaint against Francis Newman relating to the purchase of Francis’s inheritance expectant on the death of Francis Newman the elder (including North and South Cadbury, Sparkford etc.) for a price of £6,922 – ref C12/171/26.
Francis mortgages the manors of North Cadbury and Sparkford and the advowson of Sparkford through a deed of arrangement arising out of his inheritance Ref DD\SOG/177
5 Feb
Francis Newman answers Bill of Complaint from James and Catherine Rogers – ref C12/171/26..
Town and Country Magazine published an article about Francis and Lydia titled "The Female Deserter and the Chemical Lover".
29 Jan

Francis answered a bill of Complaint by James and Catherine Rogers (see C 12/178/26) relating to deeds for South Cadbury Manor. It appears that James Rogers refused to pay Francis an amount of £6,922 for the properties of Sparkford and Cadbury that Francis would inherit on the death of his uncle Frank because of fraudulent misrepresentation by Francis Newman relating to concealment of encumbrances on the properties!

8 Aug
Thomas Alves published a statement in the London Gazette dissolving a partnership with a Francis Newman which had traded as Francis Newman and Co.
26 Nov
Francis lodged a Bill of Complaint against James Rogers (see C12/184/20). Francis was living at Shudy Camps, Cambridge, "late of Broad Street, London"
Francis (of Shudy Camps, Cambridge. ) signs a 1 year lease of manors of North and South Cadbury and Sparkford, the advowsons of South Cadbury and Sparkford etc. Ref DD\SOG/178
21 Jan
Louis XVI, King of France, is executed.
1 Feb
France declares war on Great Britain.
5 Feb
Francis makes out a Will, signed and witnessed in London, presumably in anticipation of his forthcoming voyage to America.

Francis, Lydia and Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges set sail for the USA.

USA: 1795 – 1818
29 Jan

Francis and Lydia arrive in the US (ref U.S. Naturalization Records Indexes 1794-1995 - see email from Harold Biggs 20 Dec 2019.

7 May

Francis Newman granted U. S. Citizenship having been resident for more than one year within the state of Maryland - see email from Harold Biggs 20 Dec 2019.

14 Jun
Francis purchased his first parcel of land: from William Cox, 21 Acres at Port Tobacco, MD, for 107 pounds 10 shillings 1 penny.
4 Nov

Francis Newman purchased his second parcel of land: from Alexander Hamilton also at Port Tobacco, MD.

8 Aug
Lydia Sheridan buried in Baltimore, Maryland

date unknown: Frank Newman dies at West House, Piddletrenthide (or Cerne Abbot - ref C12/204/33) in Dorset. Francis's ex-wife Frances lives on at the house until her death in 1834.

Francis purchased three additional parcels from tobacco merchant Alexander Hamilton, bringing his (four) landholdings to approximately 250 acres.
1 Mar
Francis's father, Henry Newman, died.
39 y.o. Francis married 18 y.o. Elizabeth Hannah Friers of Rhode Island. [Note: Cliff Ranson had the date as 1799 and the spelling of his wife's name as 'Fryers']
Oct ¶
Charles County tax dept assessed Francis Newman as owning 1,019 acres of land.
10 Nov ¶

Francis purchased a several-hundred acre tract from William Craik, son of James Craik who had built La Grange, James Craik having signed La Grange over to his son William Craik three months earlier on 08 July 1796 (see email from Harold Biggs 20 Dec 2019). The Grange would become Francis's dwelling plantation. [He may have been living on this property, perhaps in the plantation house originally built by James Craik.] He owns 24 slaves including (supposedly) Josiah Henson and his parents - see below.

9 Nov
Napoleon Bonaparte comes to power in France.
The U.S. Census of 1800 shows Newman’s Port Tobacco household as: four white males under 10, one white male between 10 and 16 and two white males 26 to 45; one white female under 10 , one white female between 16 and 26 years old, two white females between 26 and 45 years old; and twenty-six slaves.
Treaty of Amiens brings temporary peace between Great Britain and France
25 Jan
16 y.o. Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman is commissioned a Second Lieutenant in artillery of the U.S. Army.
18 May
War renewed between France and Britain. Britain fights alone.
30 Dec
17 y.o. Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman is among the American military contingent, commanded by General James Wilkinson, that formally receives the Colony of Louisiana from the French Republic at New Orleans, Louisiana.
Start of the War of the Third Coalition - Austria, Portugal, Russia, and others join Britain in war against France
21 Oct
French and Spanish fleets destroyed at Battle of Trafalgar removing risk of a French invasion of Britain.
2 Dec
Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz ends the War of the Third Coalition.
Britain's Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, dies.
25 Mar
William Wilberforce finally achieves abolishion of the Slave Trade
Francis becomes involved in a criminal hearing in which he gave surety for a John Campbell . The case dragged on till 1820 or beyond - see Reports of cases argued and adjudged in the Court of Appeals ..., Volumes 9-10 pages 62 - 65.
20 Jan
Served on Charles Co. Maryland agricultural board with a Mr. Robert Ferguson formed on 20 Jan 1808.
Francis initiated Chancery Court hearing complaining against actions of Frank Newman dating back to 1783.
The 1810 U.S. census shows Newman’s household having a total of five free white males, five free white women, three other free persons and 62 slaves, making him one of the larger slaveholders in Charles County.
Francis wins part of his Chancery Court case against the estate of his uncle Frank Newman to the extent of having the rectory of Queen Camel reconveyed to him. However, despite the successful claim, the rectory estate (with 53 a. of Newman family land) remained in the Rogers family (Francis's cousins).
1811 or 1812
Newman was appointed to the position of colonel of cavalry in the Maryland militia by Governor Robert Bowie. In a letter of thanks, Newman explained that he had recently received word from England that the Chancery Court had awarded him “a very considerable property in that kingdom”, and noted that, should he hold a military commission in Maryland during a war against Britain, this property would be confiscated. As such, Newman accepted the commission with the proviso that should war with England occur, he be permitted to resign.
19 Jun
War of 1812: United States Declaration of War against Britain.
Newman sat on a commission of prominent Charles County residents at Port Tobacco to draft a series of resolutions condemning violent rioters in Baltimore who attacked a pro-Britain newspaper office. Newman is described in the account as a Democratic-Republican.
13 Dec ¶
Francis Newman appointed tax collector for the 6th Collection District of Maryland.
21 Aug
British Army units land in Maryland and attack Washington, DC, burning the White House. Francis Newman may have gained his rank or title of "colonel" from serving in this war. When the British marched through Maryland, they may have gone through area of Port Tobacco where Francis Newman might have participated in the campaign to deny them access to Baltimore.
Jun ¶
The Maryland Gazette and Political Intelligencer recounts: “the enemy approaches the Patuxent in June 1814; a detachment of the militia capture some of the enemy; Colonel Newman resigns the next day!! …. So ardent was the attachment of governor Bowie to this political friend that he consented to retain him in commission, notwithstanding the candour of the colonel in reserving his right to resign, whenever the war shall take place”. Despite the resignation of his commission, Newman retained the title of colonel for the rest of his life and is almost invariably referred to as Colonel Francis Newman.
Aug  ¶
Francis Newman was appointed a federal tax collector for Maryland’s sixth district.
14 Oct
28 y.o. Captain Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman is put in command of Fort Petite Coquilles (until 13 March 1815).
8 Jan
The British Army is routed at Chalmette, La. (The Battle of New Orleans), causing the British Navy and Army withdraw from Louisiana. Capt Francis Newman participates in the battle against the British.
15 Feb
Treaty of Ghent is ratified, ending the War of 1812.
18 Jun
Napoleon defeated at Waterloo, ending the Napoleonic Wars.
Newman either failed to collect the taxes due or collected them and failed to turn the money over to the government. Either way, he amassed a substantial debt to the U.S. Treasury Department, which issued warrants for a marshal’s sale of his Charles County property (including the Grange).
date unknown: Charles Bird King, a portrait painter and Francis's brother-in-law produced the portrait of "Colonel" Francis Newman above.
Francis instructs his son, Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman, to purchase land in Huntsville, Alabama on his behalf. He died before moving there, but his widow Elizabeth, and Jean Francois Newman moved onto onto the property which eventually became Oaklawn Plantation.
13 Jan ¶
La Grange and Benfield Estates sold under government auction pursuant to an act of Congress passed on the 9th day of January, 1815 (for the recovery of taxes collected by Francis Newman). [Note: In Search of Josiah Henson's Birthplace states: "It is unclear whether the marshal’s sale of Newman’s properties ever occurred or whether an arrangement was worked out. Newman’s will, recorded in September 1817, leaves his estate, including the Grange, to his wife Elizabeth and offers his sister a place in the dwelling house for the duration of her single life. Shortly thereafter, however, Newman added a codicil to the will instructing his wife to sell the Grange to Wilfred Manning of Charles County pursuant to an agreement Newman had made with the said Manning. He also instructed her to sell his other Charles County property “and to apply the purchase money first to the extinguishment of any claim the United States might have against me” (CC Reg. of Wills HB 14/8-13). The sale of the Grange to Manning was recorded December 16, 1817 (CCLR IB 12/182-185). Newman died some time before March 18, 1818.]
21 Jan
Francis (at his special instance and request) signs a 12 month $250 lease with Mr Stoddert over the Mont Bleak estate. The lease payment was never paid. See here
Francis dies sometime before 18th March, leaving substantial debts (including $5,004.94 owed to Alexander Scott). He was buried at Stone Street Newman Cemetery, Port Tobacco, Maryland, near Washington, DC.
Posthumus Events 1818 - 1855
Mr Stoddert sues Elizabeth Newman for non-payment of lease over Mont Bleak estate - see here.
Frances Charlotte Cox sues her father's widow, Elizabeth Hannah Newman, for a share of her father's estate. She lost the case - see her page for details.
$5,302.89 Judgment against Elizabeth Newman in relation to taxes collected by Francis Newman.
Elizabeth Newman sought an abatement of interest due on tax payments withheld by Francis Newman
Secretary of the Treasury abatement of interest owed by Elizabeth Newman on tax payments withheld by Francis Newman
23 Jun
London Gazette reported on the case of Newman vs Newman which involved five creditors of Francis Newman including C.H. Payne and representatives of the late Thomas Alves.
Elizabeth Newman died in Washington D.C.

Items marked with ¶ are referenced in "In Search of Josiah Henson's Birthplace".

    If his biography is to be believed, Josiah Henson plays a small but significant role in the story of Francis Newman. According to his account, he was" born on 15th Jun 1789 in Charles County, Maryland on a farm belonging to Mr Francis N. about a mile from Port Tobacco. The only incident I can remember was the appearance of my father one day, with his head bloody and his back lacerated. He was in a state of great excitement, and though it was all a mystery to me at the age of three or four years, it was explained at a later period, and I understood that he had suffered the cruel penalty of the Maryland law for beating a white man. His right ear had been cut off near to his head and he had received a hundred lashes on his back. He had beaten the overseer for a brutal assault on my mother and this was his punishment. Furious at such treatement, my father became a different man, and was so morose, disobedient and intractable, that N. determined to sell him. He accordingly parted with him not long after, to his son who lived in Alabama; and neither my mother nor I ever heard of him again".

    There are however doubts about the veracity of Henson's story, the most obvious being his claim that his father suffered his punishment under the ownership of "Francis N." when Josiah was three or four years old. If Josiah was born in 1789, then his father's punishment took place between 1792 and 1793 - i.e. two or three years before Francis Newman set foot on US soil. Furthermore, Francis's eldest son was a child at the time of these events, and Alabama didn't exist as a State. The most likely explanation is that Henson's father received his punished under an earlier owner - probably James Craik - and was sold on to Craik's son to a place in the south that became incorporated into Alabama after it was granted statehood in 1819.

    By the time Henson dictated his biography in 1849, more than 50 years had passed since these early childhood events - so early in his childhood that he could not have known who was the owner of the plantation at the time of his father's punishment. It’s more likely that he made enquiries later in life when those he questioned would have remembered that Francis Newman had been the owner of the Grange plantation for many years before his death in 1818. Henson would have deduced (incorrectly) that it was Francis N. who had been his father's owner back in the early 1790s.

    Henson went on to have a long and colourful - and controvertial - life, that took him to through the northern states of America and on to Canada where he claimed to have established a negros' settlement. He also claimed that his biography was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Late in life he visited England where he was introduced to various dignitaries including Queen Victoria with whom he conversed for some time. Questions have been raised about his honesty both in his financial dealings and in relating his life-story - see a collection of articles from Harold Biggs and The Salt of America genealogy blog. The library of University of North Carolina also contains a memoir about Josiah Henson.

Until Feb 2002 my knowledge of Francis Newman was encapsulated in a single sentence handed down from my father: Francis Newman had been "committed for crime to the High Court, found guilty and migrated to America where he died in 1817 without male issue". Thanks to many of Francis's descendants who have contacted me, it's become clear that the only truth in it was that Francis migrated to America. Given that Francis's English relatives knew something of the truth - not least his affair with Lydia Fergusson and the birth of their son - one must deduce that a deliberate family cover-up was orchestrated - probably by Francis's brother, Rev Edwin Sandys Newman, or his nephew Edwin Newman. G iven their strict protestant beliefs, both are likely to have been scandalised by Francis's colourful life.

Early Life: 1759 - 1779

Francis Newman was born in 1759 at Hinckley in Leicestershire, England, at the home of his mother's family. His father Henry was rector of Shepton Beauchamp and Sparkford, both villages in South Somerset. Francis was the eldest of two sons, his brother Edwin Sandys Newman being born three years later in 1762.

Francis was sent to the famous Rugby School in Warwickshire, probably starting there around 1770. It has been suggested that he went up to Cambridge University in 1777, but there is no confirmed source for this. Nothing more is known of his early life, however the scurrilous story published in the Sept 1790 Town and Country Magazine describes Francis as being "well known among the medical tribe for his for his extraordinary improvements to the science of chemistry". It sounds improbable, but it can't be altogether disregarded given that the rest of the article was close to the truth.

An event of great significance to Francis’s life occurred in 1767, when his Uncle Francis (Frank) Newman inherited the Newman estates of Cadbury, Sparkford and other places, from his childless uncle, another Francis Newman. In his will, this uncle Francis left his estates to his nephew Frank on condition that they be passed down through the family “in tail male” (i.e. through the senior male line), though the conditions of his will allowed each of his inheritors to grant any part of the estates not exceeding the value of £200 a year to his wife for life. Frank took the opportunity to grant the Rectory of Queen Camel to his wife Jane for her life. (In fact she happened to die before him, either in 1784 or 1794). In the meantime she produced for him three daughters and no sons, which meant that on Frank’s death the entailed estates would pass to his brother Henry and, on Henry’s death, to his elder son, the young Francis.

Marriage: 1779 - 1784

On 9th Nov 1778, at the age of 19, Francis married his first cousin Frances, daughter of his uncle Frank. The marriage was performed in Sparkford Church, presumably officiated over by Francis’s father, Henry Newman who was vicar there from 1758 until his death in 1798.

It appears that the marriage got off to a bad start in that it was necessitated by Frances’s pregnancy. This was made worse by her father Frank promising a dowry that he subsequently reneged on. .

Frank appears to have been a disreputable character, judging by a court judgment made against him in 1776 when he was convicted of perverting the course of justice while acting as a Justice of the Peace in a case involving his (even less reputable) brother Charles and his rather more reputable cousin, Rev. William Baily.

Uncle Frank’s questionable character is of relevance when reviewing the claims and counterclaims made by him and his daughter Frances that feature subsequently in several Chancery Court hearings. Of these, the longest and most revealing is recorded is Chancery Court Proceedings C12-629-31 relating to a case that ran between 1786 and 1789. Most of the story of Francis’s marriage is derived from this source.

This Chancery case was initiated in 1786, some two years after the breakup of the marriage, when Frances, together with her father Frank and her daughter (another Frances), lodged a combined complaint against Francis for failing to pay her a £100 annuity from 400 acres of land at Sparkford and 200 acres at South Cadbury that Frank Newman had given to young Francis in February 1783 specifically for the purpose of providing an annuity for his wife. It was a complex case involving several individuals, mortgages and loans, and is described elsewhere in greater detail.

Francis’s response to his wife’s accusations offers some interesting insights into the circumstances of their marriage. For instance, Francis claimed that he had for some time beforehand lived with Frank Newman who had “encouraged and approved” his approaches to his daughter and the resulting marriage. He also gives the year of the marriage as 1779 (the actual date being left blank) observing that he was then “still under the age of 21 (viz the age of 20 years)”. [In fact the marriage took place on 9th November 1778 in Sparkford Church where Francis’s father Henry was vicar. Francis would have been 19 at the time.] Given that Frances’s first child was born in May 1779, it's highly likely that the marriage was necessitated by her pregnancy. Furthermore, Francis’s evidence hints that his uncle Frank’s “encouragement and approval” could have been associated with Francis’s anticipated inheritance of (the then) 72-year-old Frank’s estates.

At any rate, the marriage suffered its first blow when the baby boy that Frances had been carrying, died within a month. Baby Francis was buried in North Cadbury in June 1779, and it is said that his is the only Newman memorial that was not expunged from the church when the Bennetts took possession of the house and lands in (or around) 1795.

On top of this loss, it seems that Francis was soon encountering problems with his father-in-law. In his response to his wife’s accusations, he concurred that his uncle had agreed to give him land as part of the marriage settlement, but only 200 acres rather than the 600 acres claimed by his wife. However shortly after the marriage Frank had postponed the settlement until Francis reached the age of 21 (i.e. May 1780), but even then the deeds had not been completed, and Francis's subsequent appeals to his uncle were fobbed off with promises and excuses.

Later that year, the couple suffered a second blow with the birth of a stillborn son, Henry, in December 1780. He too was buried at North Cadbury, on 26th Dec.

By the beginning of 1783, Francis (now 23) found himself “greatly distressed in his circumstances” and in need of money. His uncle therefore agreed (finally) to release to him Sparkford and South Cadbury lands, the necessary indentures of Lease and Release being signed on 14th and 15th February 1783. However Francis claimed that even then he was denied possession of 40 acres of Sparkford land because of a private agreement that Frank had made with a tenant, and that it had cost him (Francis) £30 to resolve the matter. And because of this and various other omissions inflicted by his uncle, he was not left with enough income to extricate himself from his debts or to “live in a proper style”. As a result he had continued to be “much embarrassed and distressed in his circumstances”.

It was around this time that Francis and Frances moved away from Cadbury in Somerset to take up residence in Fursdon House located on the edge of another village called Cadbury in the neighbouring county of Devon, some 50 miles to the west of Cadbury in Somerset and six miles from the town of Tiverton. Perhaps the move was prompted by Frances becoming pregnant for the third time in mid-to-late 1783. Or perhaps Francis was attempting to escape from his creditors since he claimed that at the time he was “experiencing such disappointments from [his uncle] and not having money to pay several debts which he had contracted” and that he had been subsequently “arrested by two or three of his creditors for several considerable sums” - see Chancery Proceedings C12-629-31. According to Cliff Ranson (one of Francis’s American descendants), Francis was imprisoned at this time and only released when his wife raised money by mortgaging the property, but no evidence of his imprisonment has been found , so Francis’s imprisonment may have been erroneously inferred from of Francis’s statement about his arrest. [Note: In 2004/5 Susan Moore undertook a thorough search of all available debtors’ prison records, but found no record of Francis Newman being incarcerated in any of them.]

In fact, Francis went on to claim that he and his wife jointly obtained a loan of £500 on the security of his lands, which served to discharge his debts, but it had left him unable to pay his wife’s £100 annuity – a circumstance that he claimed both she and her father had been aware of at the time. Indeed, he and Frances had subsequently transferred the loan to another lender who had increased its value to £1,200, being used to pay off the original loan, with Francis keeping the balance, an action that they repeated again in raising the loan value to £1,400.

In 1784, Frances gave birth to her only surviving child, a daughter Frances, born on 5th April and baptized on 9th May. By then, it seems, the marriage was already past saving because in the same month that his daughter was born, Francis abandoned his wife and child to live with Lydia Sheridan - a married lady, five or more years his senior, living in Tiverton.

Perhaps it was the financial stresses that caused the breakdown of the marriage, or perhaps it was the antagonism between Francis and Frances’s father that set them apart. Either way, there can have been little love left between the cousins for Francis to seek solace in another woman. At any rate, Francis and Lydia headed for London, leaving Frances to head home to her father in Somerset, where (it would appear) she soon found a new lover of her own. She was to give birth to another short-lived child in November 1785, which Francis could not have fathered.

Estrangement: 1784 - c1795

The story of the romance between Francis and Lydia and their escape to France in April 1785, the birth of their child in August 1786, their return to London in October 1787 and Lydia’s divorce hearing in 1788, are told elsewhere. However, whilst their affair spelled the end of Francis’s marriage, it did not spell the end of his disputes with Frances and her father.

Francis’s failure to pay his wife’s £100 annuity came to a head in November 1786 when she and her father (and her daughter) lodged their above-mentioned complaint with the Chancery court. According to Frances’s evidence, Francis had employed an agent by the name of Simon Payne to act on his behalf in looking after his affairs during his absence in France. Payne was supposed to collect the rents from the lands from which he was supposed to pay her annuity, but instead he claimed that the rents were not sufficient to pay the full amount. She further claimed that it was Simon Payne who had arranged the mortgages on the properties that Francis had used to pay his creditors, but that the mortgage arrangements had been conducted with Payne’s friends and relatives, and were a fraudulent attempt to deny her the annuity whilst at the same time to giving Payne and his associates a chance of procuring the estates for a trifling amount through Francis’s dire need for money.

Just how dire his needs were remains conjectural. He had sufficient funds to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, renting rooms for himself and Lydia in Chelsea, then a semi-rural but wealthy retreat just outside of London, and later moving to Osborne’s Hotel at the Adelphi. He could afford a manservant to answer the door and to help maintain the pretence that he and Lydia were married. Once their unmarried status was discovered, he could also afford to escape to France and take up residence in a chateau near Moulins, and to maintain a pretence (and presence) amongst the local dignitaries - not only claiming Lydia to be his wife, but that he himself was a member of the English peerage, viz: “High Lord Francis Newman, Knight, Baron and Lord of Cadbury, Sparkford and Lord and Sovereign of Fullen, besides his other lands”, as recorded on the certificate of baptism dated 10th Feb 1787 for his and Lydia’s son, Francis, who had been born the previous year.

Within days of the baptism, Francis and Lydia were “discovered” by a lawyer sent out from England by Lydia’s husband Major Sheridan. The lawyer's arrival on their doorstep ended their French idyll. Francis attempted to prevent the lawyer serving Sheridan’s warrant on Lydia being cut short when he threatened to reveal the nature of their relationship to the local township dignitaries. Having accepted the lawyer's warrant, the couple were generous enough to accept him into their home where they entertained him to dinner and introduced him to their new baby.

How long they lingered in France after this is not revealed, but by October 1787 Francis and his new family were back in London, lodging in rooms either in Brompton Row in Hyde Park – or perhaps Brompton Road near Hyde Park. Their presence there was confirmed by an acquaintance of Lydia’s husband who promptly served divorce papers on her in order to set proceedings in motion. The hearing was held in the Bishop of London’s Court in the Doctor’s Commons in May 1788 and a divorce was granted to Henry Sheridan followed in November by his being granted £2000 in damages (a very considerable sum) plus costs against Francis Newman for “criminal conversation” with his wife. The House of Lords passed a bill confirming the divorce early the following year - see The Trials of Lydia Sheridan.pdf.

Despite these setbacks Francis still seems to have had sufficient funds to maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle with Lydia in or around London. Yet, in September 1789, as revolution began to spread across France, Francis travelled to Bath to respond to the complaint made by his wife in the Chancery Court three years earlier. He presented 25 pages of explanation (see C12/629/31) as to how he had given money to his agent Simon Payne and authorized him to pay the annuity to his wife up to 1785, but that he had stopped further payments as from 6th Oct 1786 because his circumstances were so distressed. At the same time, he implied that his wife did not deserve and should not have expected further payments from him because since their separation she had contracted considerable debts of her own, some of which he had been sued for, and because (he had been informed) she had “conducted herself in a very improper manner and had a connection with one or more person or persons while this defendant and the said Frances were separated and apart from each other and that she was actually delivered of one or more child or children”. How the case was resolved is not known (or perhaps it never was).

The following year, in Sep 1790, Francis and Lydia suffered one more indignity with the publication of a scurrilous article (or cartoon) in the Town and Country Magazine titled "The Female Deserter and The Chemical Lover" which describes Lydia as "having more than a moderate portion of personal charms [but] no pecuniary allurements to attract prudent or mercenary lovers", and portraying her as a temptress who beguiled Francis into beginning their affair.

Towards the end of 1789, Francis had been served another complaint through the Chancery Court, this time by his sister-in-law Catherine and her husband the Rev. James Rogers (see C12/178/26). It is not clear precisely what the complaint was, but it related to Francis’s mortgaging of the estates of South Cadbury Manor for around £1,000. Francis responded in January 1791 saying that the mortgage deeds were in the hands of his erstwhile agent Simon Payne and that he was not bound to explain how he had mortgaged his other estates.

Later in the same year, 1791, Francis “late of Broad Street, City of London but now of Shudy Camps, Cambridge” lodged a complaint of his own against his brother-in-law James Rogers (see C12/184/20). On this occasion, he was joined by three of his creditors, viz: Thomas Jones of Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, Middx; Samuel Rashford of Cannon Street, London, turner and John Laycock Hill of Austin Friars, London, merchant. The dispute related to an agreement that Francis had signed in December 1788 whereby his creditors would sell his (mortgaged) title to the “several manors and estates called North Cadbury and Sparkford” to James Rogers for the sum of £6,922, presumably in order to clear his debts. [Note: This is the first mention of the North Cadbury estates being mortgaged. The earlier court hearings referred to the mortgaging of the South Cadbury and Sparkford estates.}

Francis’s complaint was based on his assertion that he had been deceived by James Rogers into signing this agreement. The dispute was messy and available records are difficult to interpret, but at some stage it seems to have been agreed that the previous bills of complaints would be dismissed, and that an earlier agreement of 3 December 1788 should be put into effect, except for the lands known as Sparkford Farm, at a price to be agreed. James Rogers also agreed to buy the inheritance of all lands within the manor of North Cadbury and Sparkford within two years of the death of Francis (Frank) Newman. James Rogers also agreed to make payments of £50 per year to the guardian of Francis’s daughter, Francis Charlotte, for her maintenance and education before the age of 21, and then £1000 for her own use on reaching the age of 21 or earlier if she were to marry with her father’s consent.

It seems that this agreement was to be executed in May 1791 but James Rogers put it off, giving "frivolous excuses", whereupon on 19th and 20th September 1791 Francis entered into a “lease and release” with his creditors showing that he was entitled to Sparkford Farm and South Cadbury Farm for life with "remainder" to Frances, his wife, for life with "remainder" to their child or children. This also showed that Francis was entitled to the reversion in fee simple and inheritance of the manors of North Cadbury and South Cadbury and other lands subject to the estate for life of Francis (Frank) Newman his uncle, and subject to Frank not having any sons. Francis then sold the lands in Sparkford and South Cadbury to his creditors Thomas Rashfield, Thomas Jones and John Laycock Hill subject to the estate for life of his wife Frances Newman and their children upon trust that they sell the interest at auction. The trustees thus became entitled to the purchase money promised by James Rogers. However James Rogers now refused to comply.

In May 1792, James Rogers responded by saying that when he had discovered that some of the manor lands of South Cadbury were encumbered to an amount of £2,300 and that the manor of Sparkford was mortgaged to Simon Payne by way of payment of £7,000 to his Francis’s father, Rev Henry Newman, even though Francis had told Simon Payne that this mortgage was on Queen Camel Rectory which Francis pretended to have an interest in after the death of his father-in-law Frank. He held Francis Newman guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation which was why he had refused to proceed with the agreement. However two months later, in July 1792, James Rogers conceded by agreeing to continue along the lines of the earlier agreement provided he was indemnified against any claim by Simon Payne.

Whilst this offers insights into some of the means by which Francis managed to maintain himself and Lydia, and to pay for his considerable travel, accommodation and legal costs, it seems doubtful that the sums raised from mortgages (whether through misrepresentation or otherwise) would have been enough to cover outgoings, especially since the purpose of raising the mortgages was to pay of debts that had previously incurred. It therefore seems likely that he must have either borrowed more to finance his living costs or earned money in some other way.

One means by which he might have done this was through business deals using an entity called Francis Newman and Co. References can be found to a Thomas Alves, a London merchant in Harley Street in the late eighteenth century, whose main claim to fame was failing to win election for the notoriously corrupt borough of Seaford in 1784 . In August 1791, this Thomas Alves published a statement in the London Gazette dissolving a partnership with a Francis Newman which had traded as Francis Newman and Co. From there the trail seems to lead to a Chancery suit active in 1802, known as Mangin v Alves, but including among the defendants, Alves, John Thomson Tempest, Francis Newman and Aquila Brown, Brown being was a Maryland merchant who went bankrupt 1803, thereby providing the first link between Francis and his future home of Maryland. [Information relating to Thomas Alves comes from Jim Brennan – see email correspondences dated Jan 2011.]

America: c1795 - 1818

Much information about Francis's life in America can be found in "In Search of Josiah Henson's Birthplace".

to be continued (hopefully)

Remnants of the old Francis Newman page follow. These will be gradually be deleted as they are absorbed into the above narrative.

Francis Newman was born in 1759 at Hinckley in Leicestershire, England where his mother's family lived. His father Henry was rector of Shepton Beauchamp and Sparkford, both villages in South Somerset. His father's elder brother Francis had inherited the Newman estates and advowson rights at Cadbury and Sparkford.


This was the man that lost the Newman family's fortune and its North Cadbury estate. I don't know much more than what is said on earlier family trees - that he was "committed for crime to the High Court, found guilty and migrated to America where he died in 1817 without male issue". The North Cadbury estate was sold in 1799 to James Bennett of London to pay Francis's debts. Bennett subsequently caused all Newman memorials in North Cadbury church to be expunged, and I believe he also had all traces of the Newman family removed from Cadbury Court.

However in Feb 2002, Jerry Gandolfo from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA provided me with a much fuller and more interesting story about Francis as follows:

Francis and Lydia's first home in the USA: Le Grange Estate, MarylandSpeaking of Francis Newman, (brother of Edwin Sandys Newman), you state, he “migrated to America where he died in 1817 without male issue.” No doubt, this Francis Newman was colorful character. In 1786 he appeared in France with a Nioman Furgusson [or Lydia Ferguson ] where the two did have a son, Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges Newman! Francis Newman, with Lydia, moved to, and purchased, the La Grange Estate, Maryland, USA around 1796 (photo right). She died shortly thereafter. [Note: the words of his Will indicate that Francis continued to live at The Grange until his own death in 1817.]

Francis Newman then married Elizabeth Hannah Friers with whom he had eight more children, including four more males (including one named Francis Hollis Newman).

His first son, also called Francis Newman, became an artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the U.S. purchased the colony of Louisiana from Napoleon (1803), he moved with the army to New Orleans. There he married twice, to cousins, both members of a prominent Spanish Creole family (Ronquillo y Solís). During the War of 1812 he commanded Fort Petit Coquilles and participated in the repulse of the British invasion of Louisiana in 1815. (Family history holds this act, bearing arms against Britain, was the reason the family was cut off from any English inheritances.) He had thirteen daughters and two sons. (He died in New Orleans in 1851.) One son, also named Francis Newman, became a Captain in the rebel (Confederate) army during the American Civil War and was killed in battle at Vicksburg in 1863. Before he died, he married a French Creole, the granddaughter of a French Privateer, Ezilda M. Daubert. They had several children including one named Hollis Louis Newman. Hollis Newman married Elena Ford-Rely and lived in New Orleans where his daughter Norita D. Newman was born. She married Andrew [André] A. Massicot (great-grandson of another French Privateer). Norita Newman became the family historian and wrote a book, “The Beast, The Sheep, and The Chariots,” (semi-factual, semi-fictional) about her great grandfather, Francis Newman (brother to Edwin Sandys Newman). Norita and Andrew Massicot’s daughter, Ynola Lucille married Charles Bradley Gandolfo in 1934. These were my parents. There are related Newmans all over the USA (especially Maryland, Louisiana, Alabama and Ohio).

Jerry wrote to me again in March 2002 with further information relating to Francis Newman as follows:

Alias: Colonel John Francis Newman, Sir John Francis Newman, Francis Newman: (It appears that Francis Newman acquired his titles or rank as well as his estates in England by virtue of the marriage to his cousin, Frances Newman.) In any case, the Newman Baronetcy became extinct in 1747 and was actually associated with Sir Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdalen. The rank of Colonel is more of a mystery. Could it be inherited from Colonel Richard Newman, surveyor-general to King Charles I and II, and veteran of the Battle of Worcester (1651)? Or, was it simply an honorary title often associated with men of social rank in America? Was he a British Colonel, an American Colonel, or maybe even a French Colonel? Or, is there another answer?) [Note: there is another answer - he aggrandized himself by assuming titles that were not his - including "Sir Francis Newman", "Sir John Francis Newman", "F. Newman, Sir and Baronet" etc. Colonel Francis Newman is likely to be similarly fictitious.]

Born: 1759; Christened: 1759 at Shepton Beauchamp [source: Ancestry.Com but not referenced]. Attended: Rugby then Cambridge, 1777 [source: Ancestry.Com but not referenced]

Moved to North America: After some period of time, and/or excursions to France, Newman appears to have migrated to Maryland, USA about 1793*. (This was 10 years after the end of the American Revolution, 1775-1783.) He obtained and lived at two estates or, plantations, called Benfield and La Grange. The latter, located in Port Tobacco, Maryland (a few miles east of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River) is most closely associated with him. The La Grange plantation has two interesting footnotes associated with it. First, the evil overseer of the novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is said to have been based on a real overseer from La Grange. Second, while Admiral Bird is given credit for being the first man to reach the North Pole, many now accept it was a Negro who accompanied him, Matthew Hanson, who was actually first. Matthew Hanson was also originally from the Newman estate at La Grange. Francis Newman may have worked as some sort of tax collector in Maryland and may have had some problems associated with his accounting. (His son, Captain Francis Newman, also worked as a collector in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA). [* The date of Francis' emigration to Maryland must have been later than this, since his first will was signed in London on 5th Feb 1794 (see note below).]

Death and Estate: Francis Newman apparently (sic) died in Maryland in 1817. He is buried in Port Tobacco, Maryland. In 1794 he wrote a will which after his death was probated, amended, nullified and reprobated. The book, "British Roots of Maryland Families," states of his will, "He mentioned estates in Great Britain…" The original will from 1794 essentially recognizes Lydia Ferguson and their son (Captain) Francis Newman as heirs. It starts out, "The last will and testament of me, Francis Newman, of Hoadley Park in the County of S'ants Esquire…" The aforementioned book identifies Colonel Newman of Headley Park, Hampshire, and Cadbury Castle, Devon, but late of La Grange. After directing his estate to settle his debts and funeral expenses, Francis Newman essentially bequeathed the rest to Mrs. Lydia Ferguson and their son, John Elizabeth Francis George Newman. His executors were instructed to invest his liquid holdings and provide an annuity from the dividends and interest derived therefrom. Appointed executors were Lydia Ferguson, Sir Robert Sloper, Thomas Jones and James Meadowcroft. The will is dated 5 February 1794 and witnessed by J. Meadowcroft, Bedford Row, George Owen, Grays Inn Lane and Charles Few, 7 Theobald's Road. [Note - these addresses are all clustered in North London, just north of Chancery Lane.] The will was amended on 12 September 1820 after neither the widow of Francis Newman nor James Meadowcroft responded to a citation to appear for the probate. The amended will granted limited rights to Frances Charlotte Newman Cox, Francis Newman's daughter by his cousin, Frances Newman. Then in August 1822 the will was nullified by a new will produced by attorneys for Francis Newman's 3rd wife, Elizabeth Hannah Friers Newman (presumably the same as the copied version of Francis' Will dated Sept 1817.) The two sources I have seen on this item must be from a common source since there is no further mention in either as to what the estate consisted of, or how its final distribution was allocated.

Subsequently, in July 2002, I received information from Cliff Hanson, another descendant of Francis, who has pieced together another part of Francis's life. He wrote as follows:

Captain Francis Newman was born Jean Elisabeth Francois Georges at the château de Dorne in France in 1780. His father was the notorious Francis Newman in your tree, who was born at Hinckley in Leicestershire, England. His father was Rev Henry Newman who was the Vicar of Sparkford in Somerset. The Vicars brother was Sir Francis Newman of North Cadbury Court. The latter had three daughters - the eldest, Frances Charlotte - married her first cousin, Francis Newman,the notorious. They had four children, three of whom died in infancy, and the fourth, Frances Charlotte, married a surveyor of London.

Francis the notorious deserted his wife and went to France where his son was born. When the French Revolution started, Francis returned to London with his "wife" and child, and later went to live in Cambridgeshire. During this time charges were being brought against the notorious Francis by his uncle, Sir Francis and his wife Frances Charlotte in the Chancery Court, which dealt with squabbles between families where large estates were concerned. I have copies of the proceedings. The problems mainly arose because the young Francis was trying to pre-empt his future inheritance and also used this to borrow money which eventually ended with his incarceration for debt. Strangely enough it was his wife Frances who raised a mortgage on her father's estate which rescued him from debtors prison.

When Francis, the notorious, was free he sailed to America with his "wife" Lydia and his son. He lived firstly in Baltimore and then acquired the plantation at Port Tobacco. where he lived as Colonel Newman until his death on 5th March 1818. Lydia died in Baltimore in 1796.

Frances Charlotte died at Piddletrenthide in Dorset, England in 1834. There is no record of any divorce, and it may have been assumed after a long separation.

Colonel Francis next 'married' Elisabeth Hannah Friers of Virginia in 1799. They had five children - two boys and three girls.

In Jan 2003, Jerry Gandolfo followed up with a good deal of further information which I will quote verbatim as follows (first repeating the statement copied above relating to the military uniform worn in the portrait of Francis:

"I have a couple of interesting details to share with you regarding Francis Newman of Cadbury (who came to Maryland, USA). First of all, using the portrait I sent you, I've finally been able to identify his uniform. It is of a US Army Infantry officer from the War of 1812 (1812-1815). I'm sending an attachment with the portrait inset into a 1898 print from the US Army Ordinance service which illustrates the official US Army officer uniforms for that period. Note the uniform is a match. The silver epaulettes are distinct to the Infantry service. Also, the portrait painter, Charles Bird King was active in the Washington, DC area (La Grange at Port Tobacco, Maryland is on the outskirts of Washington) beginning in 1816. Francis Newman died in 1818. The war, which lasted from 1812 to 1815 was fought mainly in Canada, Maryland and New Orleans. Hence, I now feel safe to conclude that this Colonel Newman was a Colonel in the US Army in the War of 1812 (also lesser known as the Second American Revolution or the War with Great Britain).

Meanwhile, I've become acquainted with another Francis Newman of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA (another fourth or fifth cousin). He has hired one Charles Dagenais, a genealogist in Paris, to find out what Francis Newman of Cadbury was doing in France in 1786 when Jean Elisabeth Francis Georges Newman was born. Dagenais has noted that the godfather on the younger Newman's French baptismal certificate was Jean-Antoine de Charry, marquis des Gouttes. Des Gouttes was a French Admiral who was defeated by the British Admiral Edwin Boscawen in 1758 at the Battle of Louisbourg in Canada during the Seven Year War. Boscawen would have, as was the custom at the time, have taken des Gouttes as prisoner and put him under house arrest with a family of suitable and equal status in England.  Earlier, Boscawen had been sent to India with a Major John Mompesson (see my notes on the Mompesson family). Also, as Francis Newman of Cadbury's mother died early, I've learned from Lydia Consiglio (another Newman cousin and certified genealogist, deceased) that he was raised by his grandmother, the former Miss Ellinor Mompesson. Francis Newman of Cadbury meanwhile was born in 1759, about the exact time des Gouttes would have been under "gentleman's" arrest in England. Dagenais' theory is that there is a connection here.

Meanwhile, this made me look for Francis Newman's wife "Mrs. Lydia Ferguson." If she was "Mrs." Ferguson, her maiden would have been something else. Thanks to Francis Rivet, another Newman cousin, I've seen papers that suggest Lydia Ferguson was born Lydia Jennings of a very rich family in the colony of Virginia (immediately across the Potomac River from Port Tobacco, Maryland). Turns out, not only was there an English colonial governor of Virginia named Jennings; there were also governors named Sandys and Payne! I haven't had the time to pursue this yet, but these familiar names do add intrigue to the mystery of Francis Newman's relation to Lydia Ferguson and his ultimate immigration to North America.

Jerry followed that up with the following:

There is an adage in the US, a sort of warning about doing geological research; it goes something to the effect, "don’t be surprised if you find a horse thief." Most people who came to America two and three hundred years ago did so under desperation. The popular story is that they were pioneers seeking freedom and opportunity. The truth was, most were running from something. There was really no good reason to leave the relative comfort Europe if you were safe, secure, and innocent in exchange for the unmapped, hostile wildernesses of North America. At least it appears Francis Newman was at worst an adventurer, opportunist, and Casanova with "joire de vivre" (lust for life), rather than merely a fugitive running from a dull and indicted past.

In New Orleans there was a system up until about a hundred years ago called the "placage." This is a French word from the verb placer, meaning to place. In the days when a family’s wealth was split every time a parent died and offspring married, marriage was in itself a financial tool. Marriages were arranged to either obtain replacement wealth and estates from the new brides dowry or inheritance, or marriages were kept with in the family (between cousins) in order to keep the wealth in the family. Gentlemen of mean could expect (as could their unfortunate wives) to be contracted into arranged marriages having nothing to do with any personal attraction. There developed a class of women of mixed African/European descent called "les sirens." There women were world renowned for their beauty and charms. They attended balls where they met the better gentlemen of the city, and if an attraction of the heart ensued, a match was made. Since interracial marriage was at the time illegal, and since these men understood their fate was to become grooms in an arranged marriage, they developed a system whereby the lady was "placed" into an apartment and the two formed a lifelong loving relationship. The system was the "Placage" and the ladies were called "placées." The personal misfortune of arranged marriages of course was not unique to New Orleans and no doubt, I suspect, played a determining role in Francis Newman’s marriage to his cousin Frances Newman. His relation to Lydia Ferguson, while not exactly a "placage" may well have represented the same need to form a union of the heart, in spite of the pre-existing union of the family and the estate.  It often appears throughout history, including the very recent history of persons blessed by fortunes of birth but cursed by the same status, that a more intimate and satisfying, if unofficial, relationship occurs. Perhaps this is some of the things you found to be true in your recent reading about the early genealogical studies and practices of the past centuries.

As far as Francis Newman becoming a Colonel the US Army, given the possibility that Lydia Ferguson, (as well as his third wife Elizabeth Friers), was from a well to do American family, this is very possible. The "regular" American army was not a reality until 1802 with the founding of the US Military Academy at West Point. Even after this event, while the "regulars" provided the cadre for the military, the vast bulk was made of militias and volunteers. Militia units were self-formed in times of war, and elected their own officers. Often rank was determined by an individual's social, or economic, or political status rather than any military reason. Individuals who recruited their own units and outfitted then could often commission themselves to any rank they desired. During times of war, ranks are rapidly elevated. Often the simple skill of literacy was sufficient to earn one an officer’s commission in the militia (as this was would have been a desirable, if not necessary skill among officers). Staff officers, were most likely to achieve higher ranks (such as colonel), and were almost always awarded on the bases of education, social rank and political connections. (Consider when the Marquis de Lafayette arrived during the American Revolution at the age of 19 to support the rebels, George Washington immediately put him on his staff with the rank of Major General. Also, Alexander Hamilton, whose face is on the US ten dollar bill, was made a Major General on Washington’s staff at age 24). Francis Newman’s son, Francis Newman (the one born in France) was commissioned a Lieutenant in the "regular" army in 1800 and by his retirement in 1815, in spite of constant duty and combat service, was only then a Captain. The neighborhood, in which La Grange (the Newman plantation in Maryland) existed, clearly indicates his neighbors, and hence his social circles, were among the most influential in the US at the time.

The War of 1812 (1812-1815) is not well known. The US used the distraction of the Napoleonic wars and the excuse of British impressing US citizens on the high seas into the British navy as an excuse to declare war. This was the second war between the US and Britain; the first having been the American Revolution ( 1776-1783). Most historians now agree the real motivation for the war was a desire to invade and annex Canada. The US attempted the invasion but failed. In the meantime Napoleon and Britain reached a short period of peace leaving the full might of the British army to turn its attention to North America. In 1814 British forces landed in Maryland, marched on Washington, DC and burned the Capital and the White House. Next, they turned towards Baltimore (Maryland) to rid it of its nest of privateers. Attacked by both land and sea, Baltimore held out and the British then deiced to redirect their interest towards the conquest of New Orleans. It is probably during this 1814 campaign in Maryland that Francis Newman obtained his rank. When the British forces came to New Orleans, Newman’s son, Captain Francis Newman, was commander of Fort Petit Coquilles and fought in that campaign. The war ended in 1815 with a return to the status quo in effect before the war.

The Battle of Louisburg in Canada occurred in 1758 in the Seven Years War between England and France. (The US did not exist then.) This was the event in which Admiral Edward Boscawen captured the Marquis des Gouttes. Des Gouttes signed the younger Francis Newman’s baptismal certificate as godfather at Moulins, (about 200 kilometers south of Paris in central France, just north of the infamous town of Vichy (of WWII collaborationist fame) France in 1786.


In January 2005 I received further information from French researcher Charles Dagenais who undertook the original research into Francis's sojourn in France. Charles corrected many spellings and clarified several points including:

Theories and Facts

Charles believes unequivocally that Francis did not meet Lydia in France or live with her there, but that the couple left England with the intention of emigrating to America but were forced to stop in France because the pregnant Lydia became ill. Charles goes on: "This info about the accidental arrival in France of Francis Newman and Lydia Ferguson was handed to me by my client at the very beginning of my research on a photocopied typewritten report done decades earlier by a now deceased American genealogist based on two elements a) an old familial testimony of that interrupted trip (including a mis-transcription of the phonetics of "Caen" which turned into "Cannes", totally misleading me through unexplainable absurd mediterranean itineraries until I cleared it up) and b) an English translation of their son's baptism record.

Besides the unexpected (and mis-transcribed) french port, the ports in UK and New-England were mentionned but my archives are unreachable at the moment, and I rely only on my memory. Lydia fell ill shortly after departure, the captain refused to sail back to England but, instead, consented to sail to the nearest French coast which happened to be the major port of Caen, famous at the time for its trade with England. No exact dates were given, but learning that Lydia Ferguson's ailing pregnancy was the cause of this stop-over and knowing the baby's birthday and discounting the estimate duration of the medical stabilization in Caen and the subsequent weeks of travelling to Moulins, the sum provides us with a fairly plausible speculation for a time frame.

Meeting Lydia: I'll state my conclusion first, and then defend it afterwards. Both Lydia and Francis were unhappy within their respective couples, Lydia Ferguson née Jennings, born in USA in a family of numerous sisters (or only sisters), returned to England, met Francis, and the couple decided to live their new life together in USA which was familiar to her but new to him. The medical incident on board the ship sailing to America postponed their plans, they returned to England after the French episode, he managed to escape some judicial difficulties and they resumed their original plan to settle in America. The "Lydia is a Jennings from an american family without brothers, settling back in England" statement is an old familial testimonial record brought to my knowledge by Jerry Gandolfo, if my memory is right. However it is my finding, simply on an online genealogical website, of a record showing a chronologically-fitting family Jennings (in Virginia, I think) with many daughters, one of them, Lydia, some brothers although dead in infancy and/or childhood, and documenting only their births, no dates of marriage, no dates of death, a sign of a family that didn't stay long enough in USA to have further administrative processes to record. The judicial difficulties have been documented by other researchers, you have to take into account that all of this pre-France and post-France periods of Francis Newman's life are beyond the scope of my initial mandate with my client, although some crucial answers to questions pertaining to "my" period laid outside those fences.

Accommodation around Moulins: You are right to say "Anyway, it is probably that I've simply misinterpreted its meaning since 'lived at the Chateau Dorne' could simply mean that Francis stayed there while he was visiting France" . It's exactly what happened. In my desperate quest for a valid reason explaining why would a British couple end up in the middle-of-no-where in France (which Moulins still is today, if I may) before I settled for the curative water theory, I checked whereas Lydia had local relatives. In spite of a handful British immigrants involved in either steel or silk pre-industrial workshops, nothing could sustain that hypothesis. The Newmans really arrived unexpected and their accommodation at the château of Dorne (a few miles around Moulins on the way to Nevers, although considerably closer to Moulins) proves it. It belonged to the marquess of Verneuil, who purchased it a few decades earlier (documented by me, National Archives of France) and never cared to reside in it but rather left it to the questionable management of a live-in caretaker (judicial squabbles about his dishonest management are documented). The highly probable picture is that the caretaker turned a wing of the château into a rental gimmick, and the Newmans were his clients at that period of time: needless to say to that they never met the owner, and the owner never saw the color of their money!!! Cliff Ranson's quotation is just his interpretation of the basic info contained in the baptism record of 1787, the château of Dorne is mentionned as the birth place (and a first unreliable christening performed in Dorne is also mentionned, thus this current more formal "second" ritual many months later performed in downtown Moulins); I am not at the source of his info, he just read the same document we all know and which is translated more than once on your website. Another factor sustaining that the Newmans were unexpected in Moulins is that des Gouttes (do I remember that he is something like the governor of the city?) and the Rector of the College, father Berrut, also signing the baptism certificate, are the usual socialites of Moulins, always involved in any administrative act of importance. The same two men also are mentionned in Adam Smith's book on his economics studies on pre-Revolution France, when he stopped for a few nights in Moulins in 1789.

You said: "In any case, why would "owing their status to a catholic king" support your theory that the Newmans were freemasons?" Actually, I don't know either, it is those knowledgeable friends' conviction that there would be a cause-to-effect relationship in being likely an English freemason when one mingles in political/historical areas where both anglican/catholic religions intertwine. This needs further explaining, I have to ask them. About the Newmans owing their status to the favors of a catholic king, I admit you certainly know more on that subject than I do, but I have to get the accurate info in order to validate some aspects pertaining to the Newman's journey in France.

1787, 1789, is France a dangerous place for (foreign, English) aristocrats to travel?  I know that I have a clear opinion expressed by a contemporary on that subject, I have to look up. The answer is yes and no, even my aforementioned English entrepreneurs in steel/silk in Moulins had their fair share of problems (ended up temporarily in prison, managed to save their head...) during Revolution but I can bring some clear documentation on it.

Mompesson-Boscawen-des Gouttes
The link between Mompesson and Boscawen is documented, so is the one between Boscawen and des Gouttes. I think I found them on the net actually, although I also spent some time at the library for details. I can look up what I have in my archives. And, as I mentionned in a recent e-mail, I just found a link between Moulins-Somerset-Boscawen (since he was the grand-son of that british lady who gave birth to a royal bastard in Moulins-BLA).

OAKLAWN PLANTATION: 2709 Meridian Street, Huntsville, Alabama

One of the most outstanding homes in Huntsville is Oaklawn Plantation, located on Meridian Pike. Its spacious rooms, fifty-foot halls, and superb view of the city places it among the most beautiful buildings in Madison County [Alabama].

The property was deeded to John W. Walker, president of the [Alabama] Constitutional Convention which met in Huntsville in 1819. John Robinson is given credit for building the mansion around 1844, although the structure may have been started earlier by John F. Newman**, William Fleming or Lemuel Mead, all previous owners of the property. John Robinson's sister-in-law, Mrs. William Robinson, built neighboring Quietdale.

Bricks for the house are believed to have been made of clay from nearby pits. The floors are of wide boards, and the doors are more than five feet wide. After John Robinson moved into the home with his wife Carolyn J. Otey, the grounds were landscaped with boxwood, holly and other shrubs. He built servant's quarters, stables and carriage sheds, and lived there as one of the wealthiest plantation owners in the country.

During the Civil War, Oaklawn was used as Federal officers' quarters and, therefore, remained undamaged throughout the conflict. Unfortunately, Forest Field, home of Jim Robinson, brother, of John, was destroyed by fire during this period. In his book, Forest Field, Robert Bentley substituted a photograph of Oaklawn because the two houses were so similar in design.

After the death of the Robinson, their children, John J. and Carrie Robinson, continued to live on the plantation. Later, Mary L. Windham acquired the property. After being vacant for a number of years, the house was used as a hospital during the Spanish-American War [1898].

The house was then acquired by Alberta C. Taylor, followed by Elizabeth C. Newman [E.N.H.* hand note, "I don't know."]. Around 1919, after a long period of vacancy and neglect, the house was deeded to Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Dilworth who refurbished the home. The plantation again took on the splendor of former days.

[Hand Note Added] "By sheer coincidence, I breakfasted this morning with a granddaughter of these Dilworths and with the widow of George Newman Robinson, Jr. - E.H.N. 2/9/02."

* E.N.H. = Eleanor Newman Hutchens, of Huntsville, Alabama, (descendant of Dr. Francis Hollis Newman, whose step-niece, Eliza Newman [Francis Newman and Barbara Ronquillo y Solís; parents], married Dr. P.B. Robinson of Huntsville.)

** John F. Newman is the brother of Francis Hollis Newman, and half-brother of Captain Francis Newman. John and Francis Hollis Newman were born, probably, in Port Tobacco, Maryland [Colonel Francis Newman and Elizabeth Hannah Friers; parents]. Captain Francis Newman was born in château de Dorne, France [Colonel Francis Newman and Lydia Ferguson; parents]. Captain Francis Newman appears to have gone to Huntsville, Alabama shortly after the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans [1815] to purchase what may be this property on behalf of his father, Colonel Francis Newman, who was still in Maryland.

Colonel Francis Newman died in 1818 and eventually, John F. Newman assumed the family's role in relation to property in Huntsville. After returning to Louisiana, by 1823, there is a record of Captain Francis Newman selling some slaves he acquired in Alabama. For more details of the Newman's real estate ventures in Huntsville, see the document in the "File" section of the Group for Madison County, Alabama.

Source: Transcribed from a photocopy, page 73, from an unknown publication, provided by the courtesy of Eleanor Newman Hutchens.

Last updated: Nov/Dec 2019 - An updated timeline for Francis Newman (extending into his life in the USA) plus an expanded account of his life in England. Also information about Josiah Henson added.
Updated: 20th Oct 2008 - Information about Elizabeth Rachel Newman added. Also estimated date for Francis Newman's departure to the USA put back to sometime between Feb 1794 and August 1796.
Updated: 14rd Jun 2005 -
Links to a copy of Francis Newman's Will added.
Updated: 27rd Jan 2005 - Charles Dagenais's name corrected and email address added. Spelling of Marquis des Gouttes's name corrected in several places.
10th Feb 2005 - spellings of La Grange and chateau do Dorne corrected.
12th June 2005 - notes added about Newman-Rogers' Bible which includes references to Francis and his (English) family