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Newbon Family History
Joseph Newbon is in many ways the most important member of the Newbon family. He left the strongest mark of any Newbon behind him and his influence can still be felt in the City of London today in various forms: books and letters he published, a memorial he erected and, most importantly, a club he founded. He is also the only member of James Shelton Newbon’s family of whom a photograph has so far come to light.

Early years and professional life
The 5th surviving son of James Shelton Newbon and his wife Ann, Joseph Newbon was born at Blackheath Terrace, Greenwich on November 30th 1840 and grew up in Hammersmith with his brothers James Thomas Peter, Thomas, Henry George, Charles Evans and Septimus Baily. He received his education at King’s College School, London, and then, like his father and grandfather before him, became a solicitor. While only in his early 30s (following the deaths of his father in 1863 and his elder brother         
Thomas in 1871), he took over the family law firm, which had been based in the area of Blackfriars known as Doctors’ Commons since the early 19th century.

Civic duties and local affairs
In 1873 Joseph became vestry clerk to the parish of St Ann, Blackfriars and soon afterwards wrote A History of the Parish of St Ann, Blackfriars, in the Ward of Farringdon Within, in the City of London, which was published in 1876 by Judd & Co. of St Andrew’s Hill (the street in which Joseph’s great-grandfather Walter had lived nearly a century before). A slim volume, dedicated to ‘the vicar, churchwardens, overseers, and inhabitants of the parish’, it is a detailed and vivid account of the history of the area, copies of which are kept by both the British and Guildhall Libraries. Joseph’s closing comments convey a strong sense of his commitment to his subject and also of a rather self-deprecating character:

In concluding this feeble attempt at a history of the parish of St Ann, Blackfriars, the writer leaves the subject with regret, the contents of this little work being the result of pleasurable research, and if the interest of the inhabitants of  St Ann, Blackfriars, in their parish has been increased by anything that has been here written, the writer is amply rewarded.

From the mid-1870s we can sense Joseph’s already strong interest in local affairs developing apace. In 1875, by which time he had become a liveryman of the Bakers’ Company, Joseph was elected a Common Councilman of the City of London for the Ward of Castle Baynard, a post he held until 1878 - he was here following in the footsteps of his grandfather James, who had sat on the Common Council in the 1820s. Joseph was always ready to express his opinions, especially when he felt the traditions of the City were in jeopardy or when a decision was not in fact in the best interests of the citizens of London, and his neighbours in Blackfriars clearly felt he was ideally suited to represent them. His views were printed frequently in the City Press and also on three occasions in The Times: he felt moved to comment in 1881 on municipal reform, in 1883 on the election of the Lord Mayor and in 1896 to attack the suggestion that Wardrobe Place, the home of Newbon & Co., be demolished. Whether or not as a direct result of Joseph’s pleas, Wardrobe Place was spared and survives to this day as an oasis of calm in the bustle of the City.

In 1877 Joseph Newbon founded the United Wards’ Club of the City of London, his most important legacy to the City of London. This began as a group of prominent citizens of Blackfriars but soon grew into a prestigious organisation covering the whole of the City of London; it continues to this day. Each October, at their Founders’ Day banquet (held at one of the City livery halls), the club pays tribute to Joseph and the other men present at that inaugural meeting. who were responsible for founding the club. Again, we sense the                 
magnanimous side of Joseph’s character in the fact that he never became president of the club he founded - instead he seems to have been content to serve and support, and to focus on his business and council work.

In 1899 Joseph was again busy fighting another cause – this time for the erection of a plaque to mark the site of The Old Bell Inn in Carter Lane. It had been at a later Bell Tavern on the same site that the United Wards’ Club had first met in 1877, but the plaque commemorated the fact that, several centuries earlier, The Bell was given as Richard Quiney’s address when he wrote the only surviving letter to William Shakespeare.

Guildhall Library now houses a large folder of correspondence from and to Joseph Newbon concerning this memorial, which was duly erected on the wall of the Post Office building in Carter Lane. Among his correspondents were the Duke of Norfolk (then Postmaster General) and the Librarian  
Joseph Newbon’s obituary in the City Press April 1901. He in fact represented the ward of Castle Baynard on the Common Council - the United Wards’ Club originally comprised inhabitants of the wards of Castle Baynard and Faringdon Within, rather than as stated
Joseph Newbon at the age of 50 in 1891
The grave (above) of Joseph Newbon’s two children in West Brompton Cemetery, with a detail below
Joseph Newbon (1840-1901)


November 30th 1840 (Blackheath)


April  23rd 1901 (Putney)


James Shelton Newbon (1806-63)


Ann Newbon, formerly Brockelbank



Laura Edith Daniel (1848-80)




Douglas Shelton Newbon (1872-1934), Muriel Undine Newbon (1875-1949)

Joseph Newbon on the census
and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Committee in Stratford-upon-Avon. The provenance of this folder is something of a mystery. It was presented to the library a few years ago by a private donor, along with a single page from Joseph Newbon’s scrapbook. It is a total mystery what became of this scrapbook after the death of Joseph’s daughter (who would presumably have kept it until her death in 1949), and how it came to     
The plaque to Shakespeare in Carter Lane, Blackfriars,
which Joseph Newbon arranged to be put up in 1899
turn up so many years later. Joseph made sure that the unveiling of the plaque received coverage in the local London newspaper the City Press. The plaque could still be seen until recently, although the site is currently being redeveloped; it should find a home on the new building, on the same spot as before in Carter Lane.

Family life and final years
Joseph Newbon married Laura Edith Daniel in 1870 at Brixton. The couple had two children, a son Douglas Shleton Newbon and a daughter Muriel Undine Newbon. Laura Newbon died at the age of only 33 in 1880 at Margate; Joseph outlived her by 21 years, dying at his home at 8 Ruvigny mansions, The Embankment, Putney on April 23rd 1901 at the age of 60 - he would no doubt have approved of this being both St George's Day and the day on which Shakespeare both was born and died! Joseph’s death certificate shows that he died of cardiac failure as a result of broncho-pneumonia. The obituary that appeared in the City Press (left) concurs that he had been ill for just a few days, so his death must have come as quite a shock.

Joseph and Laura Newbon were buried in the same grave as Joseph’s parents and his elder brother Thomas in West Brompton Cemetery, London SW10. Their son Douglas died in 1934, aged 63, and their daughter Muriel died in 1949, aged 74; neither married. They are buried together in a plot (shown right) in the same cemetery bought by their father, very close to his own grave.
A detail (below) of the grave of Joseph Newbon’s two children. The inscription to Douglas Shelton Newbon can be read clearly; that to
his sister Muriel Undine Newbon, at the base, has weathered less well.

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All contents of this website © 2008 Stephen Willis


Many of our readers – and the members of the United
Wards Club in particular – will learn with regret of the
death on Tuesday last, after only four days’ illness, of Mr.
Joseph Newbon, the founder of the club. The deceased,
who at one time represented the Ward of Farringdon
Within on the Court of Common Council, retiring after
a few years’ service on account of pressure of business,
was in the early days of the club’s career one of the most
regular of attendants at the meetings, and practically its
moving spirit. It was founded with the idea more
especially of combining in a local association the principal
inhabitants of the wards of Farringdon Within and
Without, and for a long while its membership was to all
intents and purposes thus confined. Of late years, how-
ever, a forward movement has been entered upon, and
now the club is representative of the City at large, and in
that way justifies its title. Mr. Newbon was a solicitor
by profession, and enjoyed a large practice. He was a
keen antiquarian, and many readers will remember that
it was on his initiative that a few years ago a tablet was
erected in Wardrobe-place to commemorate the associa-
tion of Shakespeare with that district. The funeral will
take place to-day at Brompton cemetery at half-past
eleven, and will be attended by a deputation of the mem-
bers of the United Wards’ Club. A wreath will also be
placed on the coffin as a mark of the club’s affectionate



St Mary in the Castle, Sussex, with his parents and elder brothers



at home with his family at Elms House, Hammersmith



at home with his mother and 3 brothers in Hammersmith (his father was in Brighton



at home at Firbow Road, Kensington (listed as Newborn), with his wife Laura



in Brighton with his daughter Muriel Undine Newbon and his youngest brother Septimus Baily Newbon, who was working as his clerk. 3 servants lived with the family (a chambermaid, a cook and a nurse, Maria Lott, who was to stay in service with Joseph’s family for many years). In 1881 Joseph’s son Douglas Shelton Newbon can be found as a 9-year-old boarder at Osborne House School in Margate (Laura had died at Margate the previous year).



at home at ‘Utica’, Barrowgate Road, Chiswick with his children and 2 servants (Maria Lott, who by this time had become the housekeeper, and Eliza Ellen Lott, presumably her younger sister, who was the cook). Douglas Shelton Newbon is listed as a ‘solicitor’s clerk’, so he was presumably working for his father. Joseph’s younger brother Septimus Baily Newbon was living in Deptford at this time but was still listed as a ‘solicitor’s clerk’.



at his final home, 8 Ruvigny Mansions, on the Embankment at Putney with his daughter Muriel Undine Newbon and their housekeeper Maria Lott. Douglas Shelton Newbon can be found working in Leicester; he became a newspaper representative.