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Newbon Family History
James Newbon, the eldest son and 3rd child of Walter and Ann Newbon, was the first lawyer in the Newbon family. Like his father Walter, he did not live a long life, despite being a prosperous man, nor does he have a large number of descendants alive today. Of his 5 sons and 2 daughters, only James Shelton, Henry and Sarah Jane Newbon married, all three going on to have children of their own. James’s grandchildren kept in close contact into the 20th century. It is known that Henry still has descendants alive today and highly probable that Sarah Jane does also. James Shelton Newbon’s branch of the family died out, however, with his grandchildren.

Early years
James Newbon was most likely born in the house in Water Lane, Blackfriars in which his father Walter can be found on the taxation records of 1780-81. James grew up with his two elder sisters and four younger siblings partly in Water Lane and thereafter in St Andrew’s Hill. He is the only one of Walter and Ann Newbon’s children about whose schooling we know anything, for he is listed in the records of St Paul’s School. At this time the school was still situated in the City and so it would have been just a few minutes’ walk from the Newbons’ family home. It is not known, however, where James received his professional training.

Professional life and civic duties
James Newbon’s solicitor’s firm can be found in the London trade directories and the Law Lists of the early 1800s as follows: at Water Lane in 1802 (when he would have been 24), Wardrobe Terrace in 1808, 38 St Andrew’s Hill 1813-21 and at 2 Great Carter Lane from 1822. All these addresses are close to each other in Blackfriars. We know that by 1818 James and his family no longer lived in the area, although his business continued to be based there.

For a brief time James Newbon would have been a close neighbour of the young Charles Dickens, who was employed for 3 years (from November 1828) as a freelance reporter at the Court of Doctors’ Commons in Blackfriars. Dickens rented a small office in Bell Yard, a narrow courtyard leading off Carter Lane, where James Newbon's law firm had its premises at the time. Dickens used his experience at Doctors’ Commons in his later career as an author. The workings of the court itself are described in detail in David Copperfield, while Knightrider Street (which runs parallel to Great Carter Lane) is visited by Mr Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers. Dickens’s novel Bleak House gives a vivid account of the legal profession in Victorian London, a claustrophobic world with which the Newbon family would have been intimately familiar.

James Newbon clearly felt strongly about the area in which he worked and grew up, for he became a member of the Common Council of the City of London, representing the ward of Castle Baynard between 1821 and 1829. We can thus conclude that he was a well-respected local figure, and he was clearly a popular councillor, given that he held the post for so many years. Many years later two of James’s grandsons, Joseph and Charles Evans Newbon, followed in his footsteps on the Common Council. Joseph certainly was proud of this family tradition, mentioning his grandfather's public service in a letter to the City Press in 1875 while promoting his own candidature.

Family life and later years
James Newbon married Jane Cobbett on January 24th 1805 at the church of St Clement Danes (at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand). Jane, a spinster of the same age as James (at that time 26), came from Walton-on-Thames - it is not obvious how they met. The couple had 7 children; 5 were sons: James Shelton (who took his middle name from the married surname of his father’s elder sister, Susanna), Walter William, Henry, John and Daniel, while their 2 daughters were named Sarah Jane and Elizabeth. Only Daniel died young, in 1839, aged 22.

James’s family lived in Blackfriars until around 1818, after which time they moved to Kentish Town, although Blackfriars continued to be James’s business address. James himself died in 1830 at the age of only 52 and his death was noted in The Gentleman’s Magazine. Few male members of this branch of the family lived to any great age – indeed, James’s father Walter was only 48 when he died in 1798. James’s widow Jane, on the other hand, lived to be 83.
James Newbon (1778-1830)


1778 (Blackfriars)


1830 (Kentish Town)


Walter Newbon (1750-1798)


Ann Newbon, formerly Dixon (c.1743-1829)


Jane Cobbett (1777-1861)




James Shelton Newbon (1806-63), Walter William Newbon (1808-59),

Sarah Jane Newbon (1810-93), Henry Newbon(1813-62), John Newbon (1815-76),

Daniel Newbon (1817-39), Elizabeth Newbon (1819-80)

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Jane Newbon (in her early 60s) was once again in Blackfriars, (having moved to Islington with James in the 1820s), living with her fourth son John (a warehouseman) in Great Carter Lane. She is listed as ‘of independent means’. Her daughter Elizabeth can be found living with her elder brother James Shelton Newbon and his family in Sussex.



John Newbon is the sole member of the family living at 1 Wardrobe Place, Blackfriars, together with a housekeeper. Jane Newbon can be found boarding with her daughter Elizabeth at 27 Lower Phillimore Place, Kensington. Jane’s will, drawn up several months later on July 26th 1851, gives Wardrobe Place as her address, however.



the only occupants of no.1 Wardrobe Place were the same housekeeper as 10 years previously and one other servant, although it continued to be the business address of the family solicitors’ firm. Jane Newbon is listed (shortly before her death on April 17th that year) with her son John (then aged 45) and also her daughter Elizabeth (who was 41), as well as one general servant, at 9 Cambridge Road, Hammersmith. This address (close to the home of Jane’s eldest son James Shelton Newbon) was where Walter William Newbon, Jane’s second son, had been living in 1851, when he was listed as an ‘agent and seer’. Walter died in 1859, aged 50, but whether his mother and sister moved in before or after his death is not known – we know that his younger brother John was still living in Blackfriars after Walter William’s death.



brother and sister John and Elizabeth Newbon are living together, again at 9 Cambridge Road, Hammersmith. John is listed as a ‘clerk in a merchant’s office’. One general domestic servant is also listed. At some point between after 1871 John and Elizabeth Newbon moved the short distance to 20 Cambridge Road, which their wills show was their home at their respective deaths in 1876 and 1881.

All contents of this website © 2008 Stephen Willis

James and Jane Newbon’s children James Shelton Newbon, Henry Newbon and Sarah Jane Crickmer have pages devoted to their lives.
James and Charles. We have no evidence linking James either to his brothers Walter or Benjamin or to his sisters Ann Edge or Sarah Feltham. Susannah was, however, close to her elder sister Ann and also to Ann’s daughter Mary Ann Meredith, nominating her as the residuary legatee of her estate.

On the census / the lives of James’s children
James Newbon died a decade too early to be listed on any of the census returns. His widow Jane can be found, however, on the censuses for 1841, 1851 and 1861:

At his death, James Newbon’s law firm was taken over by his eldest son James Shelton Newbon, who served first as his father’s apprentice and then latterly became his partner. James Shelton Newbon soon moved the business to new premises at 1 Wardrobe Place (another of the courts leading off Great Carter Lane), going into partnership with John Llewellyn Evans; James Shelton Newbon in fact inherited this house from his father-in-law, Thomas Brockelbank, who died in 1843. The family firm was based in Wardrobe Place until the beginning of the 20th century.

We have no direct evidence to indicate how close James Newbon was to his brothers and sisters but much can be inferred from a variety of sources. All of Walter Newbon’s sons became freemen of the Bakers’ Company, which perhaps indicates a certain similarity of mind-set between them, even if there situations differed somewhat. All 7 of Walter’s children (grown up and married by that stage) are mentioned in Mrs Ann Newbon’s will of 1829, with James and Charles being nominated as her executors. Many years later, Charles Newbon’s will was drawn up by his brother’s law firm, which was at that time was run by James’s son James Shelton Newbon and grandson Thomas - it was Thomas who witnessed the will. The will of James’s sister Susannah contains legacies to her nephew James Shelton Newbon, who was given her married surname for a middle name; there was evidently a special bond between aunt and nephew. Susannah also bequeathed a legacy to her brother Charles - she clearly felt a similar affection towards both        
Wardrobe Place - the Newbons’ business premises seems
to have been the house at the entrance