I first came across the connection between the Newbon family and the United Wards’ Club of the City of London in the The London Encyclopaedia (edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert, Macmillan, London 1983, revised 1993), an invaluable reference work. The entry for the the United Wards Club reads as follows:
The United Wards Club of the City of London was founded in 1877 by Joseph Newbon, a Common Councilman of the City, as a general and central ward club for the discussion of public matters affecting imperial, civic, guild, and general interests, the promotion of the spirit of citizenship and maintenance of the high traditions of the City of London and the furtherance of unity between the motherland and overseas dominions and goodwill with foreign countries. Its membership consists of freemen, liverymen and members of City of London clubs, and others who are interested in preserving the traditions of the City of London.
The United Wards’ Club remains a thriving City institution to this day, boasting the Lord Mayor of London as its patron, although its role has changed somewhat: whereas today the club’s principal roles are social and charitable, its original function was political. The founding members were some two dozen gentlemen resident or with businesses in the area of Blackfriars known as Doctors’ Commons, which had been home to the Newbon family since the late 1700s. Because the busy thoroughfare of Carter Lane (just south of St Paul’s Cathedral) was split between two City wards (i.e. administrative districts) - those of Castle Baynard to the East and Farringdon Within to the West - it was felt that having a single club at which local matters could be discussed would be advantageous. Joseph Newbon was prominent among the citizens of Blackfriars at the time, having secured a place on the Common Council to represent the ward of Castle Baynard in 1875, and he was the driving force behind the club’s founding. The club met for the first time at 6pm on Wednesday 31st October 1877 at The Bell tavern in Carter Lane. Among those present in addition to Joseph Newbon were his brother Septimus Baily Newbon and John Edward Murray, the widower of his father’s cousin Diana Nancy Newbon.
Within only a few years the club grew to incoroprate all the wards of the City of London. It is, perhaps, worthy of note that Joseph never became President of the club he founded – this honour initially fell to one Major Wieland – and thus one can sense a certain magnanimity in Joseph’s character, happy to acknowledge the seniority of an older and more experienced man although always keen to engage in clear-purposed debate. For the past few decades, each year at the end of October a Founders’ Day Banquet, in honour of Joseph and the other original members, is held at one of the fine City of London livery halls, at which the minutes of the first meeting are read out. I have twice been honoured to be invited to talk to the club about its founding at this event.
The earliest known photograph of the United Wards’ Club, dating from 1891.
Joseph Newbon can be seen with a striking beard, seated in the 2nd row, 4th from the right.
The caption (printed many years later in 1929) is incorrect in giving his initial as H!
THE UNITED WARDS CLUB.
A Tribute to the Founder.
The President (Mr. W. Mann Cross, C.C.) occupying
the chair, a meeting of the United Wards’ Club was held
At the Cannon-street Hotel on Wednesday evening.
Among those present were: Mr. T. B. Parry, Mr. W. H.
Pitman, C.C., Mr E. W. Brown, Mr. G. T. Thornes,
C.C., Mr. S. Alderton, C.C., Mr. T. P. Warwick, Mr. G.
Briggs, C.C., Mr. W. Robbins, Mr. G. Haysom, Mr.
A. Gill, Mr. George H. Heilburth, C.C., Mr. F. E. Bathurst,
Mr. G. Fuller, Mr. Lane, Mr. Howland, Mr. S. H.
Valentine, Mr. G. Alexander, Mr. J. P. Dixon, Mr. W. G.
Britton, Mr. W. H. Latham, Mr. Milton Smith, Mr. G. E.
Hammond, Mr. J. A. Cave, Mr. J. Grosi, Mr. F. W.
Hembry, C.C., Mr. J. E. Murray, Mr. E. Boddington,
Mr. S. Beal, and Mr. Ponsford J. Haselgrove (hon. Secretary).
The Hon. Secretary reported with regret the death of
Mr. Joseph Newbon, the founder of the club. Mr.
Howland proposed that a vote of condolence should be
Forwarded to the relatives of the deceased. Twenty-five
years back, he said, Mr. Newbon took a deep interest in
the club, which he founded, and at the meetings of
Which he was a regular attendant. His idea was that the
Club should grow into a large concern, and prove of use to
the City. That it certainly was to-day. Mr. Thrornes.,
C.C., seconded. Mr. E. W. Brown, in support, endorsed
These remarks, and added that Mr. Newbon served the
Ward of Castle Baynard on the Court of Common Council
Until called away on business. He (the speaker) and Mr.
Howland were the only original members of the club now
On the roll, and they sympathized with the deceased’s
Daughter, to whom Mr. Newbon was deeply attached.
The vote was agreed to in silence.