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Newbon Family History
The family of Richard Newbon of Blackfriars

With the appearance of Richard Newbon of Blackfriars in London in 1734 the basis of the Newbons’ story in the capital moves from conjecture to hard evidence. Moreover, a number of different sources corroborate the story (the parish records of King’s Cliffe, the manorial court records of King’s Cliffe, PCC and Peterborough wills, Peterborough marriage licences, the freedom records of the City of London, the parish records of St Ann, Blackfriars, Chancery records).

The importance of Richard Newbon of Blackfriars’s arrival in London cannot be overestimated: without him, it is extremely unlikely that the Newbon family would have developed a permanent branch in the capital and there may well be far fewer Newbons and related families alive today. Richard, however, seems to have had no descendants alive beyond the early 1770s. Similarly, the last descendant of Richard Newbon of Westminster (the first Newbon to arrive in London and most likely the uncle of Richard Newbon of Blackfriars) died in 1834.  

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The links between the Newbons of London and Northamptonshire
Because of the sheer number of records relating to this period, it is perhaps easiest to get a sense of the family story in table format, thus clearly separating events in Northamptonshire from those taking place in London:

King’s Cliffe, Northamptonshire

Blackfriars, City of London


Richard Newbon of Blackfriars (son of James Newbon the Elder) born.


William Newbon the Miller (son of Richard’s first cousin James Newbon the Younger) born.


James Newbon the Younger (Richard’s first cousin) dies.


James Newbon the Elder (Richard’s father) dies.

Richard Newbon of Blackfriars is possibly already resident in London by this time, given his scant appearance in his father’s will.


Richard Newbon becomes a member of the Musician’s Company of the City of London by redemption.


Richard Newbon of Blackfriars marries Mary Spire at Stamford.

Richard and Mary’s son William born at Blackfriars, followed by four other children during the next five years.


William Newbon the Miller marries Ann Swepston.


William Spire writes his will, leaving two houses in King’s Cliffe to his daughter and son-in-law Mary and Richard Newbon of Blackfriars) that will pass to their son William at their death.


A later Chancery document reveals that Thomas Newbon, Richard’s younger brother, was a prisoner in the King’s Bench Prison at this time.


Mrs Elizabeth Newbon, Richard’s mother dies.


Chancery document concerning the purchase of Richard’s freedom and his mother’s coming to live with him.


January 10th

Walter Newbon (son of William Newbon the Miller) born.

November 18th

Richard Newbon dies and is buried at King’s Cliffe.

The fact that Richard Newbon seems to have died intestate possibly suggests his death was unexpected.


Walter Newbon’s maternal great-uncle Richard Goodyer dies at King’s Cliffe, leaving a legacy of £100 to Walter and each of his older siblings upon their reaching the age of 21.



William Newbon of Blackfriars, son of Richard Newbon, becomes a member of the Baker’s Company by patrimony.

Richard Newbon’s widow Mary marries Benjamin Prior, baker of Blackfriars.

Before 1764

Mary Prior, widow of Richard Newbon, dies. The two houses at King’s Cliffe left to her by her father pass to her son William.


Benjamin Prior writes his will, leaving his business to his stepson William Newbon of Blackfriars along with a legacy to William’s younger brother John.


April 7th

Walter Newbon, having moved to London, is officially apprenticed to Benjamin Prior, who had been married to the widow of William the Miller’s second cousin.

Michaelmas (September?)

William Newbon of Blackfriars present at the manorial court sitting in King’s Cliffe.

The manorial court records of King’s Cliffe reveal that William Newbon of Blackfriars was living at Barnes at this time.


The manorial court records of King’s Cliffe reveal that William Newbon was once again living at Blackfriars.


Benjamin Prior dies and his stepson William Newbon of Blackfriars takes over his business at Blackfriars. Walter presumably becomes the unofficial apprentice of William, his distant cousin, at this time.


Walter Newbon comes into his inheritance of £100.


July 11th

William Newbon of Blackfriars marries Ann Dixon at St Ann’s, Blackfriars.


William Newbon of Blackfriars is buried at King’s Cliffe (March 3rd), having presumably died there. His will leaves his two properties at King’s Cliffe (formerly belonging to his grandfather William Spire) along with the residue of his estate to his widow Ann.

William Newbon of Blackfriars dies, aged 36. His widow Ann takes over her husband’s business, presumably assisted by her husband’s distant cousin Walter Newbon, still an apprentice at this stage. William’s will had been witnessed by his aunt Barbara Stonehill, thus showing that the feud between Richard Newbon and his siblings from the 1740s had been healed by this stage.


The manorial court records of King’s Cliffe reveal that William Newbon’s younger brother John had died ‘beyond the seas without issue’ by this date.


Walter Newbon finally achieves his City freedom and presumably takes over William’s business officially.


January 22nd

Walter Newbon marries Ann Newbon, the widow of his father’s second cousin William Newbon of Blackfriars, at St Ann, Blackfriars. The marriage register reveal that Walter was living at Wapping at this time, but no explanation can yet be put forward for this.

It may seem unlikely to us that such close contact was maintained between relatives in a Northamptonshire village and those in London, but Samuel Pepys’s diaries of the previous century show that this would not in fact have been uncommon. Pepys and his family frequently made the journey from the City of London to Huntingdonshire (one of the counties bordering Northamptonshire), which was a reasonably speedy journey if horses were available. His diaries also show that a letter sent from Brampton, Huntingdonshire could arrive in London the following day, although this may have been delivered by a special courier. This would certainly suggest that it was not nearly as difficult as we might imagine for members of the London Newbon family to have kept in close contact with their relatives back in Northamptonshire.

Richard Newbon of Blackfriars
Richard Newbon was the first member of the family to live in Blackfriars and the first to become a freeman of the City of London. Given that he was a baker, it is, however, a mystery why he became a member of the Musicians’ Company - presumably he was acquainted with other Musicians? We know more of Richard’s character than we do most other members of the family, largely thanks to an extraordinary set of documents that survives at The National Archives (catalogue no.s: C11/562/28 and C11/563/19), dating from 1745 and 1746. Richard’s younger brother Thomas and his two sisters Ann Dixon and Barbara Stonehill brought a case to the Court of Chancery against Richard, following the death of their mother Elizabeth Newbon at King’s Cliffe the previous year.

From these documents emerges a picture of Richard as an enterprising man, not afraid of going it alone and paying to open up business opportunities, or, put more crudely, speculating to accumulate. He certainly did not turn his back on his family, though, providing a home for his mother in London at a time when it would presumably have been easier for her to have stayed with other relatives in King’s Cliffe. Because she had leant him the money with which he bought his City freedom, he presumably felt it to be his duty to provide for her. We also get the impression of a certain jealousy on the part of his sisters (or at least their husbands); their younger brother Thomas, who was far less astute than Richard and somewhat vulnerable, seems to have become caught up in their dissatisfaction. He unfortunately spent six months in the King’s Bench Prison in 1742, probably because of debt. It is unlikely that brothers and sisters were able to patch up their differences before Richard Newbon’s death just a few years later in 1750. We do know, however, that Barbara Stonehill was on good enough terms with her nephew William Newbon by 1773 to witness his will.

William Newbon of Blackfriars
Richard’ Newbon’s son William must have been the great hope of the family. As a child in 1741 he was chosen as the heir of his maternal grandfather William Spire; as heir apparent to his father’s business he was just a little too young to have taken it over straight away at Richard’s death in 1750; at his mothers’ death, probably around 1760, he became a customary tenant of the manor of King’s Cliffe, inheriting his grandfather’s property; at his stepfather’s death around 1770 he inherited his business in Blackfriars. But, ironically, it was actually William’s distant cousin Walter Newbon who, by being in the right place at the right time, was able to sweep the board of all these assets when he married Williams’ widow Ann, then a considerable heiress, in 1775.

William Newbon’s life in some ways mirrors his father Richard’s. Both men died young (Richard in 1750, aged 41, and William in 1773, aged only 36) and both were buried in King’s Cliffe, even though they lived in London. Both seem to have been capable men, at the head of the family business, financially astute and with financial support from relatives. Although Richard had 7 children, no sons seem to have been alive by 1774; nothing at all is known of his 3 daughters. William had no children of his own and this branch of the family thus seems to have died out with his death.

William Newbon was buried in King’s Cliffe on March 3rd 1773. His will states that ‘my soul I recommend to God and my body to the Earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my executrix...’. We can thus infer that William was visiting relatives or attending to business in Northamptonshire when he fell ill, otherwise Ann would surely have buried her husband at the church of St Ann, Blackfriars in London. One wonders whether Ann was with William when he died, and thus whether or not she was present at the funeral.

William left all his estate, including property in Park Street in King’s Cliffe to his widow Ann (with a small bequest to her sister Elizabeth). Ann’s maiden surname was Dixon and at her marriage to William on July 11th 1772 she was described as ‘of the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields’.

When Ann married her second husband Walter Newbon on January 11th 1775 she would have been aged about 32, 7 years Walter’s senior. Walter had become the apprentice of Thomas Prior, William Newbon’s stepfather, in 1766 and the two distant Newbon cousins presumably got to know each other then - Walter may well even have been present when Ann and William married. From the time of Walter and Ann’s marriage the fortunes of the Newbon family took an upward turn. At the same time London seems to have become the family’s principal base for the first time, with no known contact between the capital and Northamptonshire from this date.

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All contents of this website © 2008 Stephen Willis