Newman Family Connections with Somerset

The following commentary is transcribed from a type-written page written by my father, H.E.M. Newman, dated 1st February 1977, titled:

Resume of the Newman Background and of its Connections with Somerset.

A Newman migrated from Salisbury from Salisbury in 1405 to Fifehead Magdalen, near Gillingham in Dorset, and they remained there connected with the manor and church into the 18th century.

The Rev. Phelps History and Antiquities of Somerset (published 1838) reports that Sparkford Manor was possessed by Richard Newman in 1610. Collison's History of Somerset (published 1791) records that Colonel Richard Newman (son of the previous Richard) bought Evercreech Park from John Caryll and John Trethery in 1657 and the estates of North and South Cadbury at an unspecified date, though there seems to be contradictory evidence to suggest that it was Richard Newman (Col Richard's father) who bought both Evercreech and Cadbury estates. There could be substance in the rumour that one of these gentlemen also held property in London now commemorated by Newman Street [which runs from Oxford Street north towards the Post Office Tower].

Colonel Richard Newman, High Steward of Westminster, fought on the King's side in the civil wars; was present at the Battle of Worcester and assisted young Charles to escape to France. He was indeed imprisoned by Cromwell for his loyalty. Charles II after his restoration, rewarded Richard for his loyalty and for financial help during his exile with a royal augmentation, namely 'gules a portcullis royally crowned' to his coat of arms, viz: quarterly sable and argent: in the first and fourth quarters three mullets argent. [See Postscript for comments.]

Colonel Richard had two sons and one daughter, all at Evercreech Park. The elder son, Richard, M.P. for Milborne Port, was created a Baronet in 1699, four years after his father's death, but this senior branch of the family lapsed when his son, Sir Samuel Newman, died in 1747 without male issue. Sir Richard and Sir Samuel were the last Newmans to be buried at Fifehead and there still exist elaborate memorials to them in the church on which one inscription mythically connects the family with the Newmans of Newman Hall in Essex.

The younger son of Colonel Richard, Francis Holles Newman, baptised at Fifehead on 13th February 1672 inherited the North Cadbury estate and was Sheriff of Somerset in 1745.

After Sir Samuel's death in 1745, Fifehead Manor was sold to the then vicar of the parish, but North Cadbury remained in Newman hands until 1799 when it was sold to James Bennett of London to pay the debts of another Francis Newman, a spendthrift and a gambler, who was committed to the High Court, found guilty and migrated to America where he died in 1817 without male issue. James Bennett caused the erasure of all Newman memorials in North Cadbury church, but a later owner of the man or found a stone replica of the Newman arms and incorporated it on the manor porch.

The miscreant Francis had a younger brother, Edwin Sandys Newman, and he was at one time rector or vicar of Sparkford and of Babcary, where there is a memorial plaque to him in the church. His son, Edwin, a solicitor, founded the firm which became Newman Paynter Co, with an office at his home in Hendford Manor, Yeovil. He died in 1884, leaving 12 children of whom the sixth, Walter, was my grandfather born in 1836. Educated at Rugby# he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery, served one year in the Crimea, shipped to India for mopping up operations after the Mutiny, and his foreign service included Halifax Nova Scotia, Malta, Corfu and Gibralta, and he commanded the artillery at the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 for which he was awarded the Khedive's Star. (At one time, he commanded one of the first Mountain Batteries R.A. which was known as "Newman Nog's Nags"). His eldest son, Edwin Montague Browne Newman, educated at Wellington, was killed in 1885 at the battle of McNeill's Zariba at Tofrek in the Sudan, serving as a sapper subaltern with the F Coy Queen's Own Sappers and Miners (which later became the 14th Fld Coy QVO Madras Sappers and Miners). His younger brother, also at Wellington, was my father, Walter Ernest, (1864 - 1947). He was articled to the family firm of solicitors at the Northumberland branch in Alnwick, which was in charge of Henry Augustus Paynter, married to Edwin Newman's daughter, Henrietta. My father married his first cousin Lilian Jekyll Paynter and became a partner in the firm, spending his working life at their Clements Inn office in London.

There has in fact been at least one member of the family resident in Somerset since 1610.

1 Feb 1977                H.E.M. Newman

Postscript by CJEN: I think my father was wrong on a number of points:

Sad to say, it appears that my father may indeed have been the last of the continuous line of Newmans to reside in Somerset. He certainly seemed to anticipate the possibility that this would happen, which (I suspect) prompted him to write the above.

As of August 2020, the Newmans still retain a small residence in Brent Knoll, Somerset, owned by my sister, but she will never live in it.

There may be Newman descendents of Richard Newman of Charlton Musgrove still living in Somerset, however it seems that no closer branches of the family remain there. Whilst old Edwin Newman had no less than 10 sons, all born in Somerset, I think it is probable that only three of them (Walter, Arthur and Rowland) have Newman descendants still living, none of whom are living in Somerset. Charles Octavius Newman is the only one of Edwin's sons who had a son (Charles Francis Newman b.1885) that I have not yet traced, but since he was born in Essex it seems unlikely that he or his descendants would have moved back to Somerset.