NEWTON, John (1626-99), of Culverthorpe, Haydor, Lincs. and Baronscourt, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 9 June 1626, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Newton of Gonerby, nr. Grantham, Lincs. by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Parker of Kibworth, Leics. m. by 1645, Mary (d. 23 Nov. 1712), da. of Sir Gervase Eyre of Rampton, Notts., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 13da. suc. fa. 1640, Sir John Newton of Barrscourt as 2nd Bt. 14 Feb. 1662.1
Freeman, Grantham 1660; j.p. Lincs. (Kesteven and Holland) July 1660-?86, Glos. 1669-bef. 1680; commr. for sewers, Lincs. Aug. 1660, assessment, Kesteven and Glos. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-4, Lincs. 1661-3, Glos. and Lincs. 1664-80, 1689-90, Som. 1665-9, Notts. 1677-80; col. of militia ft. Lincs. c. Aug. 1660, dep. lt. Lincs. 1661-bef. 1680, Glos. 1669-Feb. 1688; commr. for corporations, Lincs. 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662, appeals, Bedford level 1663, enclosures, Deeping fen 1665, recusants, Glos. and Lincs. 1675.2
Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) July 1660.3
Newton’s great-grandfather, a husbandman, acquired an estate at Woolsthorpe about the middle of the 16th century, and his father served as high constable, even though the heralds recorded his pedigree at their visitation of 1634. Newton left school at the age of 16 to rescue his mother, who had been robbed and taken prisoner by the royalist forces. By so doing he became a delinquent, and in 1646 he was fined £3,000 by Parliament. His wife’s uncle was in arms in the second Civil War; it was alleged that Newton had assisted him and concealed him after the fall of Colchester, and he paid a further £750. But his financial position was eased when he came of age by a legacy of £8,400 with interest from his uncle, an usurer called Hickson.4
Newton stood for Grantham, six miles from Culverthorpe, at the general election of 1660, although ineligible under the last ordinance of the Long Parliament. He was involved in a double return with William Ellys, solicitor-general under the Protectorate, and seated on the merits of the election, the first of the family to enter Parliament. An inactive Member of the Convention, though doubtless a court supporter, he was named to nine committees, of which the most important was for settling ministers in their livings. He was also appointed to two committees of local interest, those for the estate bill of (Sir) William Wray and the drainage of the fens. He was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estate of £3,000 p.a., but his family was too obscure to qualify him for the grant of a baronetcy. Accordingly he procured the honour for a childless Gloucestershire gentleman of the same name, with a special remainder to himself, which fell in, together with the estate, some 18 months later.5
Newton was re-elected in 1661 and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. In the opening session there is some possibility of confusion with Henry Puckering, but he was probably appointed to 143 committees, including those for the restoration of bishops to the House of Lords, the prevention of mischief from Quakers, the uniformity bill, and the bill of pains and penalties. He acted for the Axholme villagers in introducing provisos into the drainage bill promoted by (Sir) John Monson. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges in six sessions, and to several local drainage measures, and acted as teller in five divisions, the first on 24 Mar. 1662 being intended to expedite the consideration of the Lindsey level bill. He supported the unsuccessful proposal for extending the duration of the hemp and flax bill to 21 years. In 1663 he opposed the bill to increase the stipends of the urban clergy, but supported the bill against sectaries and was named to the committee for hindering the growth of Popery. On 21 Feb. 1665 he was given leave to attend the House of Lords about a private bill promoted by Sir Robert Carr, with whom he was later to be closely associated. In the autumn of 1669 Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the independent Members who had usually voted for supply, but it may be significant that his name does not appear among the lists drawn up by the Opposition in 1671. He was among those appointed to consider the bills to relieve dissenters (7 Mar. 1673), to prevent illegal exactions (9 Feb. 1674), and to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament (21 May 1675). He received the whip for the autumn session, and on the working lists he was assigned to Carr’s management with several other Lincolnshire Members. But he must have gone over to the Opposition, for after the adjournment Sir Richard Wiseman wrote of him: ‘I suspect he has been corrupted by Sir Robert Carr, for the gentleman, I think, has gone very well formerly’. It was to Carr that Newton and Sir William Yorke transmitted a deposition by a Lincolnshire clergyman against Sir Philip Monckton during the recess. After his daughter had married William Sacheverell, Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677, and on 7 June 1678 he was teller for the Opposition on a motion on the disbandment of the army.6
Newton was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, and classed as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. In 1679 he was appointed only to the committee to review expiring laws, but he voted for the exclusion bill, and joined Carr in snubbing the Duke of York on his visit to Lincolnshire in November. He was moderately active in the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was named to nine committees. On 19 Nov. 1680 he was added to the inquiry into the proclamation against petitioning. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament and in 1685 stood down in favour of his son as Whig candidate for Grantham. He may have taken up residence on the Gloucestershire property which he had inherited from the first baronet, for it was in that county that he recorded negative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws in December 1687. He was removed from the lieutenancy two months later.7
Newton never stood again, although before the general election of 1689 he was advised from Lincolnshire that:
It is the hopes and wishes of your friends here that you would continue your former endeavours of promoting the good of the country by serving in Parliament, not questioning but that you will be chosen in these parts if you please [to] accept.
Newton died on 31 Aug. 1699 and was buried at Bitton. His monument mistakenly describes him as only ‘thrice burgess of Parliament’. His son was twice defeated at Grantham, but his grandson represented Beverley from 1722 to 1727 and Grantham from 1727 to his death in 1743, voting consistently with the Opposition.8