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Newbon Family History
James Shelton Newbon became one of the most prosperous members of the Newbon family. He had the natural advantage of being the eldest son of an eldest son but clearly also inherited his father’s sharp mind and business acumen. By the middle of 19th century he had become every inch the Victorian gentleman, heading a successful firm and holding a string of public offices. A number of his children evidently inherited his interests and qualities, but only 2 of his 6 sons had families of their own and none of his 4 grandchildren went on to have children. He thus has no descendants alive today.

Early years
The eldest child of the solicitor James Newbon and his wife Jane, James Shelton Newbon took his unusual middle name from the married surname of his father’s elder sister Susannah - there was clearly a special bond between aunt and nephew, for in her will made in 1856 Susannah Shelton left several legacies to her nephew, the very first that is mentioned in the will being: ‘I give unto my nephew James Shelton Newbon my silver tea pot and my best silver milk pot for his own absolute use and benefit’. In the event, James Shelton Newbon died the year before his aunt.

James Shelton Newbon was clearly well educated, although it is not known where he received his schooling. He followed his father into the law, becoming his apprentice in 1822, and then after James’s early death in 1830 took over his law firm.
Family life
James Shelton Newbon married Ann Brockelbank on January 23rd 1831 at Greenwich, Ann’s home town. The couple had 8 children, 7 sons and a daughter: James Thomas Peter, Thomas, Henry George, Annie, Charles Evans (whose middle name was the surname of his father’s business partner, John Llewellyn Evans), Joseph, Clarence Brockelbank (whose middle name was his mother’s maiden surname) and Septimus Baily (Septimus presumably because he was the couple’s 7th son). Two of the children died in infancy: Annie (the only daughter) and Clarence. The eldest child James was born in the parish of Christchurch, Surrey (in Southwark); the next 4 were born in the City of London (possibly at 1 Wardrobe Place); the 3 youngest children were born at Blackheath in Kent, which is situated very close to Greenwich. Some time after the birth of Septimus in 1846, James Shelton Newbon and his family moved to Elms House, High Road, Hammersmith, where they can be found on the 1851 and 1861 censuses. Nothing now remains of Elms House, seemingly not even a photograph. One photograph of the neighbouring property, dating from around the turn of the century, shows what must be the top left-hand window of Elms House, but that is all. From that, it looks to be a large and grand building, rather gothic in style. The surviving 19th-century maps of the area (two of which are shown here to the right) also suggest it was a grand and spacious house.

James Shelton Newbon on the census
In 1841 James Shelton Newbon’s family can be found living on the south coast, at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings. 3 servants are listed, as well as James’s 20-year-old sister Elizabeth. It is not known what James Shelton Newbon’s connection with Sussex was - he can be found in Brighton in 1861 and his sons Joseph and      
Septimus Baily Newbon were there in 1881. The censuses for 1851 and 1861 show James Shelton Newbon’s to have been a well-to-do household, with all his sons having good positions. In 1851 James Thomas Peter was an articled clerk to an auctioneer, Thomas an articled clerk to an attorney (possibly his father), and the other sons ‘scholars at home’. By 1861 James Thomas Peter and Thomas had left home. James died of yellow fever on July 21st 1864, aged 32, in Nassau in the West Indies. Thomas was living in 1861 at Clifton Cottage, Stockwell Park Road South, although his first wife Jane (who died in 1862) was not at home on census night. Thomas died of phthisis (i.e. consumption/tuberculosis) on April 1st 1871, a year after marrying his 2nd wife Jessie, at 6 Buckingham Street, just off the Strand (a large, elegant and presumably expensive house, which would most likely have been divided into flats); he was aged 37. James Shelton Newbon’s other children were all at home in Hammersmith in 1861: Henry George was listed on the census as a solicitor’s son, Charles Evans as a B.A. student of law and Joseph as an articled clerk to a solicitor (again, possibly his father); 16-year-old Septimus Baily was still a scholar. In 1851, 4 servants (a nurse and 3 house servants) were employed by the family; in 1861, 2 servants (a cook and a footman) were listed.

The Newbon family in local records
Another series of family snapshots can be found among the archives of the Turnham Green Devonshire Cricket Club, West London. Two surviving match reports from 1856 and 1857 mention members of the Newbon family, presumably all sons of James Shelton Newbon. On Saturday 6th September 1856 the Turnham Green Club played the Gentlemen of Chiswick and the archives record that ‘J.Newbon Esq. made some brilliant hits’ and ‘G.H.Newbon Esq. [presumably in fact Henry George Newbon?] also displayed a fine style of batting.’ On June 15th the following year the team played a match against Kilburn in which ‘T.Newbon Esq. played extremely free and contributed 21 to the score’ and ‘H.Newbon Esq. played well for 16.’ The title of ‘esquire’ is worthy of note, since it was accorded to almost no other players in any of the match reports during the whole of those two years, and is thus evidence of the Newbons’ high social standing.

The local newspaper of the day, the West London Observer, contains one interesting little article, which throws some light on the sort of lifestyle the Newbons must have enjoyed at Hammersmith:
March 9th 1861 - Hammersmith Police Court
A Mr Walter Tyler was summoned for refusing to pay the toll at the gate at Hammersmith while driving his carriage. He pleaded not guilty. The defence was that the toll had already been paid and that the defendant was not driving but a man named Newbon.
Surely this must have been James Shelton Newbon – what fun to imagine him at the reins, sweeping up the grand driveway of Elms House! [see the earlier map above]

The Newbon family in other records
James Shelton Newbon’s family seems to have acquired somewhat literary tastes during the 19th century. His son Joseph, so concerned with the preservation of heritage, published A History of the Parish of St Ann, Blackfriars, in the Ward of Farringdon Within, in the City of London in 1876. Other family publications do not have quite the same original content as Joseph’s history: his elder brother Charles Evans Newbon translated a French legal text, which was issued in London in 1870, and Charles Evans Newbon’s son Herbert Alexander compiled a series of parliamentary proceedings which were published in 1896. All of these works can now be found in the British Library.

Several members of James Shelton Newbon’s family also had letters and articles published in the national press, expressing their views on various topical matters. The following, for example, appeared in The Times:

The second 1896 reference is an impassioned letter that Joseph wrote, prompted by a proposal to demolish Wardrobe Place – proof of how attached the Newbons were to the home of their ancestors. History and the preservation of tradition were obviously of great importance to him.

Later years
James Shelton Newbon died on February 3rd 1863 at Elms House, Hammersmith of ‘Disease of the liver and Congestion of the brain’, leaving the large sum of £25,000 in his will. His death was reported in the deaths column of The Times. His widow Ann died 3 years later on December 1st 1866, leaving a complicated will to provide for all her younger children and for the families of 2 of her own brothers. James and Ann were buried in West Brompton Cemetery, London SW10, where their grave can still be found today. It is in the shape of a raised tomb, with an inscription in an elaborate gothic script around the sides that is now very hard to read. On the top is an intricate cross. The style is far more decorative than that of any of the neighbouring graves and would suggest that the Newbons had a taste for the Victorian gothic style. The one tantalisingly small view of Elms House we have backs this up.

The lives of James Shelton Newbon’s children
At least 4 of James Shelton Newbon’s sons followed him into the legal profession, with two (Thomas and Joseph) joining their father’s firm:

Having been listed an articled clerk to an auctioneer on the 1851 census (when he was 18), James Thomas Peter Newbon went on to become a naval architect. He was listed as such on the census 10 years later, while The Times listed the dissolution of the partnership of J. T. P. Newbon and T. Smith, naval architects of Fenchurch Street the year before that. He died in 1864 at the age of only 32 at Nassau, New Providence in the Bahamas, having contracted yellow fever. It is not known when or why he travelled to the West Indies. He never married and little else is known of his life.

Thomas Newbon seemed destined for a successful legal career and a lifetime of civic duty, very much following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, but he unfortunately died of consumption at the age of only 37 in 1871. By this time he was a partner in the family law firm and had also held the post of Vestry Clerk to the parish of St Ann, Blackfriars between 1859 and 1866. He married twice, his first wife Jane having died at the age of only 28. He married his second wife, Jessie, less than a year before his own death.

Little is known of Henry George Newbon – indeed, his will (dated 1895) tells us almost all we do know about him: ‘this is the last will and testament of me Henry George Newbon of Marine House Milford South Wales Gentleman I appoint my dear wife Alice Newbon sole executrix of this my will’. He probably married Alice Wade in 1863 but it does not seem that the couple had any children. Henry died in 1895 at Greenwich, at the age of 59, and his widow most likely re-married (there is no record of her death, but a widow Alice Newbon did marry at Marylebone in 1904). Henry’s death certificate tells us that his profession was that of ‘ship-owner’. Three vessels were registered at Milford, South Wales to Messrs Newbon and Brockelbank in the 1890s: the Commodore (1891–94), the Hypatia (1893–1894) and Westward Ho (1892–94). This was most likely Henry George Newbon, although his brother Charles Evans Newbon was for some time chairman of the Milford Docks Company and there is also a reference in The Times in 1892 to Mr C. E. Newbon, deputy chairman of the Milford Docks Company, and to Mr M. Brockelbank, secretary - Brockelbank was the maiden name of Henry and Charles’s mother Ann, so this man (presumably the same gentleman as the ship owner) may well have been a cousin.

Charles Evans Newbon chose a career as a barrister rather than as a solicitor, practising at 3 North King’s-Bench-Walk in the Temple. He lived one of the youngest lives of any member of the Newbon family, dying in 1929 at the age of 90. This is particularly noteworthy since none of his brothers lived beyond the age of 60, his father and grandfather died in their 50s and his great-grandfather in his 40s!

It is likely that Joseph Newbon became a partner in the family firm while still in his 20s, or, if not, his early 30s. This may have happened immediately after the death of his brother Thomas in 1871, or, more likely, earlier still, soon after the death of James Shelton Newbon in 1863. In 1864 Joseph was one of the witnesses of the will of his maternal uncle Lemuel Brockelbank, and at Lemuel’s death in 1869 Joseph acted as one of the executors. In the 1864 will Joseph’s address is given as 28 Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street. Interestingly, the other witness was George Berry of the same address, ‘clerk to Messrs Newbon, Evans & Co.’ - unless they were still using the old name from before James Shelton Newbon’s death the previous year, this would suggest that Joseph had already become a partner with Thomas by 1864; it may also suggest that the firm was based for a time off Lombard Street, although this may have been merely where Joseph was living at the time, and that he shared living accommodation with George Berry. By 1869 (when probate was granted on Lemuel’s estate), the family firm, if it had moved at all, was again based in Wardrobe Place, where it remained thereafter. Within a short space of time Joseph became the head of the firm, which had been re-named simply Newbon & Co. later in the century. He is one of the most interesting members of the Newbon family and left a strong mark behind him in the City of London. He died in 1901 at the age of 60.

Septimus Baily Newbon worked as a legal clerk, failing to achieve the same sort of career success as any of his elder brothers. He got off to a good start, however, by matriculating at Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1864, at the age of 18, 8 years after his brother Charles Evans Newbon. The Cambridge records show that he was educated privately in Paris before this and they also reveal that he never completed his degree course – one wonders why! For at least part of his life he worked for his brother Joseph. He died unmarried in 1900 at Greenwich.

Two of James Shelton Newbon's children died young: a son, Clarence Brockelbank Newbon (1843-1847), and the only daughter of the family, Annie Newbon (1837-41). Annie’s birth was listed in the births section of The Times of June 1837 in the following rather grand manner: on the 6th inst. the lady of Mr J. S. Newbon, Doctors’ Commons, of a daughter.

The Newbon family obviously felt a strong attachment to the area of Doctors’ Commons, where James Shelton Newbon had been born. Joseph Newbon 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 road in which the Newbon family had lived earlier in the century).
James Shelton Newbon (1806-1863)


1806 (Blackfriars)


February 3rd 1863 (Hammersmith)


James Newbon (1778-1830)


Jane Newbon (formerly Cobbett)


Ann Brockelbank (c.1813-1866)




James Thomas Peter Newbon (1832-64), Thomas Newbon (1834-71),

Henry George Newbon (1836-95), Annie Newbon (1837-41), Charles Evans Newbon (1839-1929), Joseph Newbon (1840-1901), Clarence Brockelbank Newbon (1843-47),

Septimus Baily Newbon (1846-1900)

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January 3rd  

James Shelton Newbon on the Watermen’s and Lightermen’s Company

January 30th        

James Shelton Newbon on the Watermen’s Steampacket Company [of which he was secretary at the time]


August 24th

Newbon and Starkey on the removal of Law cases


June 22nd     

Joseph Newbon on municipal reform


October 1st

Charles Evans Newbon – letter on the injustice to Alderman Hadley by the Court of Aldermen

November 6th

Joseph Newbon on the election of the Lord Mayor


May 16th

Charles Evans Newbon on Sir Robert Peel and the House of Lords


May 26th

Charles Evans Newbon on the American Mail Service

November 26th

Joseph Newbon on an ancient landmark threatened


August 27th

Charles Evans Newbon on Sir Walter Raleigh


June 10th

Herbert Newbon on the preservation of Crystal Palace


February 13th

Charles Evans Newbon on Shakespeare and the Davenants



St Mary in the Castle, Sussex, with his family



at home with family and 4 servants (including one manservant) at Elms House, Hammersmith



in Brighton with eldest son (his wife and 4 youngest sons were at home in Hammersmith

All contents of this website © 2008 Stephen Willis
also left his son-in-law ‘fifty three general steam navigation shares’, while to his son George he left ‘all my stock of barges or craft’; James Shelton Newbon's son Henry George Newbon was a ship-owner, while Charles Evans Newbon was chairman of the Milford Docks Company.

Civic duties
In the London trade directory of 1851 James Shelton Newbon is listed as vestry clerk of both St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe and St Ann, Blackfriars, and as clerk of the municipal ward of Castle Baynard. St Ann’s ceased to be a parish in its own right in the mid-1800s and its parishioners were transferred to St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. James Shelton Newbon took up his post as vestry clerk in 1840 (taking over from one George Pritchard, who had held the post for 42 years) and gave it up in 1859 to his 2nd son Thomas, possibly on account of ill health. Thomas held the post until 1866; his younger brother Joseph later took over the post in 1873. The Law List for 1844 also states that James Shelton Newbon was the solicitor and secretary of the Eagle Steam Packet Company and the Watermen’s Steam Packet Company, the honorary secretary to the Hotel and Tavern-keepers’ Provident Institution and joint solicitor to the National Mercantile Life Assurance Society.

Professional life
James Shelton Newbon first appears in the Law Lists in 1829, the year he completed his apprenticeship with his father’s firm and shortly before he took over the business. By 1840 James Shelton Newbon had gone into partnership with welsh-born John Llewellyn Evans and the family firm had become Newbon and Evans, being based at 1 Wardrobe Place. By 1861 it had expanded further to become Newbon, Evans, Newbon and Heritage, with James Shelton Newbon’s son Thomas becoming a partner while still in his mid-20s, along with Frederick Heritage.

James Shelton Newbon in fact inherited 1 Wardrobe Place from his father-in-law, Thomas Brockelbank, who died in 1843. It has been suggested that the Brockelbank family is connected with the Brockelbanks who were in partnership with the ship-owning Cunard family, but this has yet to proved conclusively. Certainly ships do feature in the Newbon and Brockelbank families - for example, Thomas Brockelbank
James Shelton Newbon’s home, Elms House, High Road, Hammersmith, on an 1863-5 Ordnance Survey map at exactly the time the Newbon family were living there (above), and on an 1894-6 Ordnance Survey map (below). The house was demolished in the mid-20th century.