Select Newton Surname Genealogy

Newton, from the Old English neowa meaning new and tun a settlement, is the most common English place name.  There are said to be 83 different places called Newton or Newtown in the British Isles.  For this reason Newton as a surname has a highly fragmented origin.

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England.   Early Newtons came from Somerset and Lincolnshire.

Somerset  Sir Richard Cradock had assumed the surname of Newton in 1424.  He died in 1448 and was buried in the Wyke chapel of Yatton church in Somerset.  An entry in the churchwarden’s books there for 1451 recorded a receipt of 20s.  The receipt read:

“From the Domina de Wyke, being the widow of Sir Richard and living at the manor of Wyke which Richard had partially built.” 

His family owned the East Harptree manor in Somerset and subsequently, in the 1500’s,
Barr's Court near Bristol, which they later had to sell because of indebtedness.  The male line then ran out.

Lincolnshire  The buyers of Barr's Court were another Newton family, from Lincolnshire.  These Lincolnshire Newtons, originally from Haydour, had made their money in Grantham and made enough of it to mix in the 17th century with the wealthy Cokes of Norfolk.  A related family were the Newtons of Woolsthorpe Manor, whose numbers included the famous mathematician Isaac Newton.  

There were also Newtons in Hull from the early 1600’s who may have crossed over from Lincolnshire.  John Newton departed from Hull for Virginia in the 1670’s.

Newtons and Slavery  The next prominent Newtons had much to do with slavery, on one side or the other.   Samuel Newton from Wingfield in Derbyshire went out to Barbados in the 1660's and started up the Newton plantation in Christ Church which ran on slave labor.  The profits on this business enabled him to buy the Kings Bromley manor in Staffordshire. 

Then came John Newton, in his early life a slave trader.  However, during a stormy sea voyage in 1748, John Newton underwent a conversion, became an Anglican priest, wrote Amazing Grace, and took up the abolition cause. 

Newtons in Sheffield  The Newton name can be found in Staindrop parish registers in Durham from the 1660's. George Newton, the son of a wool manufacturer there, made his mark in Sheffield.  In 1789 he entered into a partnership with Thomas Chambers, the outcome of which was the company Newton Chambers.  This company became one of the largest industrial enterprises of the 19th century, operating a number of coal mines in and around Sheffield and ironworks at Thorncliffe.  

   Early arrivals to America included a number of Newtons, mainly into New England. 

New England..  Richard Newton from Suffolk came in the 1630's and lived to see the new century.  His son Moses Newton was one of the founders of the town of Marlborough.  A branch of this family settled in Vermont and upstate New York and later moved onto Ohio and Wisconsin.  Ermina Newton Leonard's 1915 book Newton Genealogy covered this history.

Thomas Newton first appeared in public records in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1639.  He fled to New York in the 1650's after having been tried for adultery and his extradition was said to be a grievance in the petition that began the Anglo-Dutch war. 

These and other immigrant histories were recounted in Ermina Newton Leonard's 1915 book Newton Genealogies

Later Newtons.  In the fiction of Parson Weems, Sergeant John Newton was - with his compatriot William Jasper - a soldier of the Revolutionary War, serving under Brigadier General Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox."  Although these stories are no longer read, Newton place names across the United States attest to his popularity in the early 19th century.

More Newtons fought on the Union side than on the Confederate side during the Civil War:
  • John Newton was a Union general from Norfolk, Virginia. 
  • Thomas Newton, a private with the 6th Wisconsin, has handed down his reminiscences of the conflict; as has James Newton from another Wisconsin regiment. 
  • there are also letters left by Thomas Newton, a private with the 8th Louisiana Infantry, who fought on the Confederate side.
John and Annie Newton emigrated from Cornwall to America in 1872, finally settling in Golden, Colorado.  John came from a Cornish family of miners.

Canada.  Arnold Newton arrived in Quebec in 1840 and sent his two sons out into the wilderness to search out new land.  They staked out land at Big White Fish Lake, near the Mont Ste. Marie ski area today. Elizabeth Newton, a descendant, still lives on the original land grant.  Her house looks out on what is now called Baie Newton.

Newtons Out West.  William Newton was an early settler from England in British Columbia, arriving there in 1856 and marrying Emmaline Tod, the daughter of a local trader, at the First English Church on Victoria island.  He subsequently worked as a clerk at Fort Langley.  EJ Newton and his family came to Surrey near Vancouver in 1886.  They had a large orchard there and raised horses. 

The Rev. William Newton left Toronto in 1875 to become an Anglican missionary in what was then called "the far Northwest."  In 1897 he published an account of his missionary work there, Twenty Years on the Saskatchewan. 

Australia.  One Newton family in Australia traces itself back to two Newton brothers, James and John, who left the grime of Lancashire in the mid 19th century for Rockhampton in Queensland.  The descendants of James Newton, spread across Australia, are now very numerous.  

Another two Newton brothers, George and Harold, left their families in 1929 to start a new life in Manjimup, Western Australia.  The fruits of their enterprise became the Newton Brothers Orchard, still running and still family owned.

Select Newton Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Sir Isaac Newton
, born in Lincolnshire, published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687. This is considered by many as the most influential book in the history of science ever written.
John Newton was the 18th century clergyman and author of many hymns, including Amazing Grace.  He was a former slave ship master who later spoke out against the slave trade.
John Newton started the family business of globe makers and map engravers in London in 1780.
George Newton was the co-founder of Newton Chambers, one of the largest industrial enterprises in England in the 19th century.
Sergeant John Newton was a fictionalized hero of the American Revolutionary War.
Helmut Newton, born Helmut Neustadter, was a noted German-Australian fashion photographer of the 20th century.
Huey Newton was co-founder of the Black Panther movement in California in the 1960's.
Juice Newton
, who was born Judith Cohen, is a very successful American pop and country singer.

Select Newtons Today
  • 32,000 in the UK (most numerous in Durham)
  • 29,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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