NEWMAN, George (c.1562-1627), of St. Margaret's, Canterbury, Kent and Doctors' Commons, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. c.1562, s. of Richard Newman. educ. Trin. Hall, Camb. 1581, LLB 1584, LLD 1589. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Peter Wycliffe of Wycliffe, Yorks., 1s. 1da.; (2) Mary Gough, 1da.; (3) Sybilla, da. of George Wenland of Allensmore, Herefs., 4s. 4da. kntd. 12 Nov. 1616; d. 7 June 1627.1 sig. G[eorge] Newman.

Offices Held

Surrogate commissary-gen. dioc. of Canterbury by 1587-97, commissary-gen. 1597-1617;2 official, Archdeacon’s Ct. Canterbury 1597-d.;3 master in Chancery (extraordinary) 1603-at least 1604;4 member, Coll. of Advocates 1598-1604, 1604-d. (full admiss.),5 official, Ct. of Arches 1607,6 auditor (jt.) 1612,7 dep. dean of Arches 1613-17;8 member, High Commission, Kent by 1599, Canterbury province by 1605-at least 1620;9 judge, Admlty. Ct. of the Cinque Ports 1602-d.,10 Ct. of Delegates by 1613-at least 1618,11 Ct. of Audience, Canterbury province 1617-at least 1620,12 Ct. of Arches by 1619-at least 1621, PCC by 1619-at least 1621, Admty. 1620;13 master/clerk/commissary of Faculties by 1613-18.14

Freeman, Dover, Kent 1601, Canterbury 1608;15 j.p. Kent 1602-at least 1625;16 commr. piracy, Cinque Ports 1612-at least 1616, oyer and terminer, Sandwich, Kent 1614;17 collector, Benevolence, clergy of Canterbury dioc. (sole) and civilians in the Arches (jt.) 1614;18 commr. charitable uses, Kent 1616,19 sewers 1625,20 Forced Loan 1626.21


The principal legal officer of the archbishop and archdeacon of Canterbury, Newman was accused in the spring of 1601 of extortion and accepting bribes. His accuser (and predecessor as commissary-general), Dr. Stephen Lakes, was dissuaded from entering a bill in Star Chamber, however, by Archbishop Whitgift, who promised to investigate the matter personally using 50 articles drafted by Lakes. In October Newman secured a parliamentary seat at Dover, perhaps in the hope of evading prosecution. In the event, Whitgift and Lakes, faced with ‘so many witnesses’ to interview ‘upon so many articles’, had to abandon their investigation as it was impossible to complete it before Parliament issued a general pardon. Far from feeling chastened by his narrow escape, Newman was said to ‘waxen worse and worse’. A second opportunity to destroy Newman was presented in October 1604, when Sir Thomas Roberts mounted a Star Chamber prosecution against him. Roberts was involved in litigation over Cranbrook parsonage, in Kent, and had been incensed when Newman, apparently exploiting inside knowledge as an extraordinary master in Chancery, obtained the lease for himself. Alleging that Newman was notoriously corrupt, Roberts was supported by Lakes, who declared that Whitgift had once described Newman ‘as corrupt a person as ever came into such an office’. However, Newman, who was nephew of the new archbishop, Richard Bancroft, again escaped punishment.22

In 1608 Newman was made a freeman of his native Canterbury ‘for divers loves and kindnesses shown to the city’, which included lending the corporation £40 towards a new charter.23 In June 1611 he was granted the right to bear arms, although at the heraldic visitation of 1619 his ancestry was not ascertained.24 Returned by Canterbury to the second Jacobean Parliament, he was appointed to bill committees for the repeal and continuance of expiring statutes (8 Apr.) and a Chancery decree (18 May). Moreover, as a member of High Commission, he was not surprisingly named to consider Nicholas Fuller’s bill against the ex officio oath (31 May).25

Early in 1617 John Chamberlain reported that Newman had been appointed chancellor by his friend Archbishop Abbot, but the claim is apparently unfounded.26 Later that year Newman was certainly passed over as dean of the Arches in favour of (Sir) William Byrd*, even though he held a reversion and had acted as suffragan to the previous dean, Sir Daniel Dunne*, for the past four years. As consolation Abbot appointed him judge of the Court of Audience. In 1620 Newman refused the treasurership of Doctors’ Commons.27

Newman again represented Canterbury in the 1621 Parliament, but played only a minor role at Westminster. On 27 Feb. he claimed, against a backdrop of some confusion, that he had received communion at the beginning of the Parliament even though he had been unwell.28 At the second reading of a bill to unite two Dover parishes (18 Apr.), Newman, a former Member for Dover, pointed out that one of the affected areas actually consisted of five separate parishes. He also observed that the bill was unpopular, that another parish church was needed and that ‘the most necessary thing [is] left out, viz. residency of the incumbent’. Despite these reservations, he felt the measure was ‘ fit to pass if it be well drawn’, and was accordingly named to the committee.29 He did not hold the same view, however, in respect of the bill to protect subjects from wrongful imprisonment, observing on 28 May that he and his fellow judges ‘have oft times cause to commit for contempt in the court, and that is by this bill barred’. As a member of High Commission he was also concerned that the bill ‘overthroweth the High Commission Court’, and that any judge or magistrate who ordered a commitment could be sued for wrongful imprisonment years later after key witnesses were dead.30 Newman’s remaining committee appointments were to consider the Oldbury tenants’ bill (20 Apr.) and a bill regarding probate (16 May), in which he undoubtedly had a professional interest. During the course of the Parliament, Canterbury’s corporation sent Newman a letter regarding ‘hospital business at the Parliament’.31 This probably related to the hospitals’ bill, which originated in the Lords on 25 May but was lost in the Commons after it was belatedly introduced there on 5 December.32

Newman contributed £40 to the Palatinate Benevolence of 1622, but only after being summoned before the Privy Council.33 In 1624 he was threatened with outlawry by the sheriff of Sussex after imprisoning the servant of (Sir) Thomas Pelham*.34 The following year he was nominated for election to Parliament by several Canterbury voters in preference to the corporation’s candidates, John Fisher* and Sir Thomas Wilsford*, but was not returned.35 By the time he drew up his will on 21 Jan. 1627 he had already ‘disposed [of] that estate which God in his mercy hath blessed me withal to my wife and all my children by several deeds in writing’, including his lease of Cranbrook parsonage, which he had obtained from Canterbury’s dean and chapter. It only remained for him to bequeath £10 to Doctors’ Commons.36 He died six months later and was buried in his parish church of St. Margaret’s, Canterbury, where a monument was erected near the altar.37 His effigy, which depicts him wearing the undress gown of a doctor of laws, has been described as ‘stiff and unconvincing’.38

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/22(2), f. 424v.

  • 1. P. Parsons, Monuments and Painted Glass in Kent, 259-60; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. liv), 119; Al. Cant.; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 160; C142/435/122.
  • 2. Arch. Cant. lvi. 1; xxi. 103; J.M. Potter, ‘Eccles. Ct. in Dioc. of Canterbury’ (London Univ. M.Phil. thesis, 1973), p. 134.
  • 3. Potter, 133.
  • 4. C216/1/24; STAC 8/252/26, f. 58.
  • 5. PRO 30/26/8, ff. 80v, 132; G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 167; B.P. Levack, Civil Lawyers in Eng. 258.
  • 6. D.M. Owen, Cat. of Lambeth Mss, 24.
  • 7. PRO30/26/8, f. 99.
  • 8. Cott. Cleopatra F.II, f. 169r-v; Levack, 258.
  • 9. Arch. Cant. lxxxix. 188; R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 355; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 383.
  • 10. HMC 5th Rep. 139; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 47; APC, 1626, p. 261; 1627, p. 393.
  • 11. DEL 5/5, ff. 3, 169.
  • 12. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 105; Usher, 355.
  • 13. DEL 8/70, ff. 16r-v, 18, 22v-3.
  • 14. Cott. Cleopatra F.II, f. 169; Lansd. 156, f. 326; Levack, 258.
  • 15. Add. 29625, f. 37; Roll of Freemen of City of Canterbury comp. J.M. Cowper, 321.
  • 16. C231/1, f. 146; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 158.
  • 17. C181/2, ff. 185, 198, 245.
  • 18. E351/1950, unfol.
  • 19. C93/7/7.
  • 20. C181/3, f. 157v.
  • 21. Harl. 6846, f. 37.
  • 22. STAC 8/252/26, esp. ff. 53, 58; Potter, 135-9; S.B. Babbage, Puritanism and Richard Bancroft, 387; PRO, T.G. Barnes, ‘Fines in Star Chamber’ (unpub. index).
  • 23. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/21, f. 284v.
  • 24. Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 181; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. liv), 119.
  • 25. CJ, i. 457a, 489a, 503a.
  • 26. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 48, 52. For his friendship with Abbot, see P. Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 55.
  • 27. Squibb, 49.
  • 28. CJ, i. 529a.
  • 29. Ibid. 579b; CD, 1621, ii. 298.
  • 30. CJ, i. 628b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 109.
  • 31. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 34.
  • 32. HLRO, main pprs. (Parchment collection), box 2B; CJ, i. 658b.
  • 33. SP14/127/48, 82; 14/156/14.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 194, 597.
  • 35. Cent. Kent. Stud. U66, f. 4.
  • 36. PROB 11/152, f. 42v; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, DCc/CA3, f. 245v.
  • 37. Parsons, 259-60.
  • 38. Hist. of Canterbury Cathedral ed. P. Collinson, N. Ramsay and M. Sparks, 519.