Select Newton Miscellany

Here are some Newton stories and accounts over the years:

The Newtons at Barr's Court

Barr's Court near Bristol was first under the Barr family and then passed through two different Newton families, one from nearby Yatton and the other from Lincolnshire.  The place was referred to as a "fayre old manor place of stone" in 1540.  By the 1650's, when Sir John Newton was in residence, it was probably in its heyday.  Sir John had demolished the old castle nearby and reused the stone on his house.

There are tombs and monuments of the Newton family from Yatton, East Harptree in nearby Bitton church. Sir John, who died in 1699 and was buried there, was described as follows: "a most loving husband, careful father, faithful friend, pious, just, prudent, charitable, salient, and beloved of all."

In the 1700's Barr's Court passed into the hands of Sir Michael Newton who had married a certain Margaret, Countess of Coningsby from Herefordshire.   They had one son John who died when an infant.  There are several rather extravagant stories about his death.  One version is that he was dropped from the roof of the manor house after having been carried there by an ape.  Another says that he was dropped down a stairway by his nurse when she was surprised by the sight of an ape.  Whatever the truth of the matter, upon the death of Sir Michael Newton in 1743, the baronetcy became extinct.

It was at the time of the death of his wife in 1746 that the manor house of Barr's Court was destroyed.  The explanation appears to be that it was decreed in the will that, as there were no heirs, then the house was to be razed to the ground.  And so it was.  It is said that from the air the outlines of the foundations are to be seen and that in a dry period it is possible to make out the contours of the moat.

Woolsthorpe Manor

A small plain limestone manor house in Lincolnshire was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton.  His family had taken possession of Woolsthorpe Manor in 1623 and Isaac was born prematurely and sickly on Christmas Day in 1642.  Isaac's father, a prosperous Lincolnshire farmer, had died two months before his son's birth.  His mother went on to raise a second family nearby.  But Isaac remained at Woolsthorpe and spent an introverted and isolated childhood in the care of his grandmothers.

His genius soon became obvious and an uncle declared that it would be wrong "to bury so extraordinary a talent in rustic business."  In 1661 Isaac Newton left Lincolnshire to continue his studies at Cambridge. However in 1665 and 1666 he was forced to return to Woolsthorpe to escape the plague.

It was at Woolsthorpe Manor that Isaac Newton formulated three great discoveries - the principle of differential calculus, the composition of white light and the law of gravitation.  He later observed: "In the two plague years I was in the prime of my age for invention and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since."

Woolsthorpe, with its simple T-shaped plan and mullioned windows, is a typical early-17th century manor house.  The house, suitable for a well-to-do gentleman farmer of James I's reign, was built on the site of an earlier building sometime after 1623.

The Newton Plantation and Slave Burial Ground

Samuel Newton started up his sugar plantation at Christ Church parish in Barbados in the 1660's.  It ran on slave labor for the next 170 years until emancipation in 1834.  The slaves were initially supplied by slave traders. Later they were creolized, in other words born in Barbados.  The numbers ran around two to three hundred, generally more women than men.

It is estimated that a thousand slaves died on the Newton plantation over its 170 years of existence, of which 570 were buried in the cemetery (some in low earthen mounds, some in non-mound burials). Excavation of these mounds has allowed researchers a glimpse into their lives. 

This is the only communal excavated slave burial ground that exists.  A sign near Sunbury marks the place. But there is little evidence that anyone has been taking notice.

John Newton in the Eye of the Storm

The Greyhound had been thrashing about in the north Atlantic storm for over a week.  Its canvas sails were ripped and the wood on one side of the ship had been torn away and splintered.  The sailors had little hope of survival but they mechanically worked the pumps, trying to keep the vessel afloat.  On the eleventh day of the storm, sailor John Newton was too exhausted to pump.  So he tied himself to the helm and tried to hold the ship to its course.  From one o'clock until midnight he was at the helm.

With the storm raging fiercely, Newton had time to think.  His life seemed as ruined and wrecked as the battered ship he was trying to steer through the storm.  Since the age of eleven he had lived a life at sea. Sailors were not noted for the refinement of their manners.  But Newton had a reputation for profanity, coarseness, and debauchery which even shocked many a sailor.

He was known as "The Great Blasphemer."  He sank so low at one point that he was even a servant to slaves in Africa for a brief period.  His mother had prayed he would become a minister and had early taught him the Scriptures and Isaac Watts' Divine Songs for Children.  Some of those early childhood teachings came to mind now.  He remembered Proverbs 1:24-31 and, in the midst of that storm, those verses seemed to confirm Newton in his despair:

"Because I have called, and ye refused . . . ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also laughed at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh: when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer."

But that day at the helm, March 21, 1748, was a day Newton remembered ever after: "On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters."


Early Newtons in America



Richard Newton
Mass (Marlborough)
Rev. Roger Newton
Connecticut (Milford)
John Newton
Va (Westmoreland co)
Richard Newton
Ebeneezer Newton
Penn (York co)
North Carolina
Rev. John Newton
Penn (Kent co)
Georgia (Jefferson co)
Giles Newton
South Carolina
Isaac Newton
N. Carolina (Duplin co)
John Newton
Va (Lunenburg co)
South Carolina
Peter Newton
Va (Caroline co)
Kentucky (Bullitt co)

Moses Newton Repelling An Indian Attack

On March 26 1676 the Indians attacked Marlborough during King Philip's War.  Moses Newton is generally given credit for being the hero of the day.

"On the Sabbath, when Mr. Brimstead was in sermon, the worshipping assembly was suddenly dispersed by an outcry: 'Indians at the door.'  The confusion of the moment was instantly increased by fire from the enemy.  But the God whom they were worshipping shielded their lives and limbs, with the exception of the arm of one, Moses Newton, who was carrying an elderly and infirm woman to a place of safety.  In a few minutes they were sheltering in their fort with the mutual feelings peculiar to such a scene.

Their meeting house and many dwelling houses, being left without protection, were burnt.  The fruit trees pilled and hacked and the other valuable effects rendered useless perpetuated the barbarity of the savages for many years after the inhabitants had returned.  Many had left their farms until the threat of war was further removed."

Hudson in his history of Marlborough stated that Moses Newton "received a ball in his elbow, the effects of which he never fully recovered from." 

Reader Feedback - John and Annie Newton from Cornwall

My great great grandmother Annie Rowe married John Newton, born in 1854, in Zennor, Cornwall and they migrated to America in 1872.  They had ten children and finally settled in Golden, Colorado.  

I have traced the Newton family back ten generation in Cornwall and most were miners.  Ann Newton, born in 1831, married in 1852 and then migrated to South Australia with her husband.  I found a non-Conformist baptism in Cornwall parish records of Annie Newton born in 1860 with parents William and Ann Newton. 

I inherited the Newton family Bible.   It was like over 120 years old and had all sorts of information on the family - births, marriage, deaths  etc.   I vaguely remember a newspaper clipping about Grandma Rowe and her death in the Midwest.  But the Bible was stolen from my family’s office during a robbery.  

I am 75 years old and still working for USPS here in San Diego, California.  After I retire I plan to go to Cornwall and visit where my ancestors lived and of course have a real genuine Cornish pastie.  

Ruthann Storr (

Reader Feedback - Arnold Newton in Quebec

I am Arnold Newton's great granddaughter.  Arnold Newton who lived in Buckingham, Quebec sent his two sons by water on the Lièvre river because he had learned of two land grants in the area of what became known as Big White Fish Lake.   It was my grandfather Thomas Newton and my grandmother Margaret Skehan from Ryanville who were the first settlers at Big White Fish Lake.

Alice Newton (


Arnold Newton, my great grandfather, was the son of Caleb Newton, who was born at Westfield, Connecticut. 

Yes, it is  true that he sent his two sons up the Lievre River as he had learned of a Land Grant and his 2 sons were under the age of 21  One of those two sons was my grandfather Thomas Newton who married my grandmother, Margaret Skehan, from Ryanville.  Thus my grandfather Thomas Newton was the pioneer of Whitefish Lake.  His children were my father, Raymond, and my uncles Earl, Walter and Andrew.  His sisters were Alice, Elizabeth and Maryanne. 

I am writing this because I feel that it is necessary for me to set the record straight.   Being that my grandfather who opened up Whitefish with the help of his father, Arnold Newton, in helping his sons, is not the one who made Whitefish lake what it is.   It is my grandfather who worked and toiled the land, cut the trees etc.  My great grandfather made it possible, but my grandfather made it what it is today, Big White Fish Lake or Lac Grand Poisson Blanc  The Baie Newton name came to be because of my grandfather, Thomas Newton, and my great grandfather, and my aunt and then my sister Elizabeth.  Not wanting my grandfather to be forgotten and wanting to set the record straight. 

The Fig Newton

The Fig Newton is a brand of fig bar pastry filled with fig jam.  The biscuit was created in 1891 by Charles M. Roser for the Kennedy Biscuit Company, a Massachusetts-based bakery.  This company merged with other regional bakeries in 1898 to form the National Biscuit Company, now Nabisco.  The Fig Newton is now a trademarked product of Nabisco and is sold across the world.    

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