Newton Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Newton Meaning
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.

Newton Resources on

Newton Ancestry

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:

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

family owned the East Harptree manor in Somerset and subsequently, in
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
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..
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

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.
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

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

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
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

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,
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

Birth Death
Richard Newton 1603 England 1701 Mass (Marlborough)
Rev. Roger Newton 1608 England 1683 Connecticut (Milford)
John Newton 1639 England 1697 Va (Westmoreland co)
Richard Newton 1710 England 1760 Massachusetts
Ebeneezer Newton 1723 Penn (York co) 1812 North Carolina
Rev. John Newton 1732 Penn (Kent co) 1790 Georgia (Jefferson co)
Giles Newton 1735 Virginia 1804 South Carolina
Isaac Newton 1735 unknown 1799 N. Carolina (Duplin co)
John Newton 1750 Va (Lunenburg co) 1799 South Carolina
Peter Newton 1755 Va (Caroline co) 1823 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

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 (

Addendum: 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

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
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.



Newton Names

  • 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 Newton Numbers 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)


Select Newton and Like Surnames.

The Anglo-Saxon word tun meaning “settlement” gave rise to many place-names with the suffix “-ton.”  And the place-name could become a surname describing someone who came from that place.  Sometimes the name was specific to just one location; but often the place-name could be found in various places and the surname would also crop up in a number of locations.  These are some of these place-name surnames that you can check out here.




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