NEWTON, Henry (c.1531-99), of East Harptree, Som., Barr's Court and Hanham, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1531, 1st s. of Sir John Newton of East Harptree by his 1st w. Margaret, da. of Sir Anthony Poyntz of Alderley, Glos. educ. ?Christ’s, Camb. 1549. m. of Norf. 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1568. Kntd. 1592.

Offices Held

Freeman, Wells 1571; j.p. Som. from c.1573, sheriff 1581-2.1


When he was two years old Newton’s parents took him to France and Flanders. No other references to his boyhood or youth have been found. His career was that of a country gentleman. He inherited large estates in Gloucestershire and Somerset, and the corporation of Bath paid him rent for property held of his manor of Hanham. The chamberlains’ accounts record a number of presents of wine made to him. In 1577, when he visited St. John’s hospital, Bath, ‘to review the new church’, the authorities paid 13s.4d. for a dinner in his honour.2

Some time after his father’s death, Newton began a series of quarrels with his stepmother, Lady Jane Newton, and her son Thomas Buckland. Lady Jane, who had a life interest in the manor of Netherbadgworth, Somerset, claimed the right to make arrangements about tenancies of the property, but Newton refused to recognize these conveyances, and a Chancery case resulted. By 1580 the Star Chamber, Chancery and the common law courts were trying to settle the family disputes, which now centred mainly on Thomas Buckland’s claims to dig for iron ore in the Mendips, at East Harptree and elsewhere. Newton insisted that the district concerned was under the control of his ‘mynarye’ court, and that Buckland and his accomplices had not only illegally carried off lead ore worth £400, but had caused serious disturbances of the peace by their violence. No judgment in these cases is known.3

Newton’s father had left money to the dean and chapter of Wells to supply a preacher, and the son repeated the terms of the endowment in his own will. He kept up a connexion with the city, and was made a freeman at the time of his election to Parliament. His one mention in the journals shows him sitting, 12 Apr., on the committee for a bill concerned with Bristol.4

In 1577 he again went to London on behalf of the city of Wells, this time as one of the three agents chosen to negotiate for a new charter. A year later he was acting as feoffee for a mansion house in Wells belonging to Thomas Leigh.5

Newton’s daughter Frances was married to Giles Strangways, upon whose death in 1596 the Queen, who had shown favour to Newton some years before this by setting aside a prior agreement so that he should have a coveted wardship, sent him a sympathetic note. Newton wrote to Robert Cecil that he would keep the Queen’s ‘most gracious comfort sent me down by you’ as the most ‘precious thing which I shall ever have, and so leave it to my son’. Daily in his prayers he asked God to ‘increase those most excellent and royal graces in her which never any historians have recorded in any Queen as in our most excellent paragon’. But in a letter sent to the lord treasurer in June 1598, old Lady Young complained of Newton’s behaviour as executor of the will of John Strangways, who was Giles’s father and her son; ‘My son Strangways his daughter’s poor distressed orphans ... are detained from their whole portions by Sir Henry Newton’.6

Newton died at East Harptree on 2 May 1599, leaving as heir his son Theodore, aged 15. A large part of his will made in January and proved in June the same year is given up to the quotation of English and Latin texts concerned with justification and salvation by faith in Christ alone. Newton declared his steadfast hope of ‘life everlasting through the bitter death and passion of Christ’, and his wish to be buried without ‘blacks’ or any unnecessary expense. Among relatives mentioned were his brother John, his ‘base brother’ Theodore and ‘Mary his sister’. The wedding portions of his two unmarried daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, were to be provided by his brother-in-law Edward Paston and others as feoffees of two parts of his lands. Details of these are given in the inquisition taken at Taunton.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. E150/952/4; Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 105; Wells corp. act bk. 1553-1623, f. 80.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, vi, p. 262; Bath Chamberlains’ Accts. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxviii), 3, 30, 63, 122, 194.
  • 3. C3/42/25, 146/3; St. Ch. 5/N2/14, N7/35.
  • 4. PCC 49 Kidd; Wells Charters (Som. Rec. Soc. xlvi), 184; CJ, i. 84.
  • 5. Wells Charters, p. xx; Som. Enrolled Deeds (Som. Rec. Soc. li), 120.
  • 6. HMC Hatfield, iii. 303; vi. 416; viii. 220. For Young-Strangways relationship see YOUNG, John I.
  • 7. PCC 49 Kidd; Wards 7/24/219.