THE UNITED WARDS’ CLUB
OF THE CITY OF LONDON
Joseph Newbon CC (1840–1901), founder of the United Wards’ Club
The early minutes of the United Wards’ Club state on many occasions that the club’s founder was a gentleman named Joseph Newbon. Now largely forgotten in the annals of the City, he was a tireless champion of the traditions of London: whilst the most important of his many good works was undoubtedly the founding of the United Wards’ Club, he was also active in a wide range of other capacities.
The fifth surviving son of James Shelton Newbon and his wife Ann, Joseph was born at Blackheath Terrace, Greenwich on 30 November 1840 and grew up in Hammersmith. He received his education at King’s College School, London and then, like his father and grandfather before him, became a solicitor. While only in his early 30s, he took over the family law firm, which had been based in the area of Blackfriars known as Doctors’ Commons since the early 19th century.
In 1873 Joseph became vestry clerk to the parish of St Ann, Blackfriars and soon afterwards wrote a History of the Parish of St Ann, Blackfriars, in the ward of Faringdon Within, in the City of London, which was published in 1876 by Judd & Co. of St Andrew’s Hill. A slim volume, dedicated ‘to the vicar, churchwardens, overseers, and inhabitants of the parish’, it is a detailed and vivid account of the history of the area, copies of which are kept by both the British and Guildhall Libraries.
In 1875, by which time he had become a liveryman of the Baker’s Company, Joseph became a Common Councilman to the City of London for the Ward of Castle Baynard, a post he held until 1878. He was always ready to express his opinions, especially when he felt the traditions of the City were in jeopardy or when a decision was not in fact in the best interests of the citizens of London. His views were printed frequently in the City Press and also on three occasions in The Times: he felt moved to comment in 1881 on municipal reform; in 1883 on the election of the Lord Mayor; and in 1896 to attack the suggestion that Wardrobe Place, the home of Newbon & Co., be demolished. Wardrobe Place was the venue for committee meetings of the United Ward’s Club throughout the early years of the club’s history. Whether or not it was as a direct result of Joseph’s pleas, it was spared and survives to this day.
THE UNITED WARDS CLUB.
A TRIBUTE TO THE FOUNDER.
THE PRESIDENT (Mr. W. Mann Cross, C.C.) occupying
the chair, a meeting of the United Wards’ Club was held
At the Cannon-
Among those present were: Mr. T. B. Parry, Mr. W. H.
Pitman, C.C., Mr E. W. Brown, Mr. G. T. Thornes,
C.C., Mr. S. Alderton, C.C., Mr. T. P. Warwick, Mr. G.
Briggs, C.C., Mr. W. Robbins, Mr. G. Haysom, Mr.
A. Gill, Mr. George H. Heilburth, C.C., Mr. F. E. Bathurst,
Mr. G. Fuller, Mr. Lane, Mr. Howland, Mr. S. H.
Valentine, Mr. G. Alexander, Mr. J. P. Dixon, Mr. W. G.
Britton, Mr. W. H. Latham, Mr. Milton Smith, Mr. G. E.
Hammond, Mr. J. A. Cave, Mr. J. Grosi, Mr. F. W.
Hembry, C.C., Mr. J. E. Murray, Mr. E. Boddington,
Mr. S. Beal, and Mr. Ponsford J. Haselgrove (hon. Secretary).
The Hon. Secretary reported with regret the death of
Mr. Joseph Newbon, the founder of the club. Mr.
Howland proposed that a vote of condolence should be
Forwarded to the relatives of the deceased. Twenty-
years back, he said, Mr. Newbon took a deep interest in
the club, which he founded, and at the meetings of
Which he was a regular attendant. His idea was that the
Club should grow into a large concern, and prove of use to
the City. That it certainly was to-
C.C., seconded. Mr. E. W. Brown, in support, endorsed
These remarks, and added that Mr. Newbon served the
Ward of Castle Baynard on the Court of Common Council
Until called away on business. He (the speaker) and Mr.
Howland were the only original members of the club now
On the roll, and they sympathized with the deceased’s
Daughter, to whom Mr. Newbon was deeply attached.
The vote was agreed to in silence.
from the City Press (1901)
In 1899 Joseph Newbon was responsible for the erection of a plaque (which can still be seen) to mark the site of The Bell Tavern in Carter Lane. This had been where the United Wards’ Club had first met in 1877 but the plaque commemorates the fact that, several centuries earlier, it was at a previous Bell Tavern on the same site that the only surviving letter addressed to William Shakespeare was written. A folder full of the letters concerning this plaque survives among the City archives.
Joseph Newbon married Laura Edith Daniel in 1870 at Brixton. The couple had two children, a son Douglas Shelton Newbon and a daughter Muriel Undine Newbon. Laura Newbon died at the age of only 33 in 1880 at Margate; Joseph died at his home at 8 Ruvigny Mansions, The Embankment, Putney on 23 April 1901 at the age of 60 appropriately enough, Joseph died on both St George’s Day and the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Joseph and Laura were buried in the same grave as Joseph’s parents and his elder brother Thomas in West Brompton Cemetery, London SW10. Their son Douglas died in 1934, aged 63, and their daughter Muriel died in 1949, aged 74; neither married. Brother and sister are buried together in the same cemetery as their father, in a plot very close to his own grave. With them James Shelton Newbon’s branch of the Newbon family died out.
Joseph Newbon was particularly proud of his family’s long association with the City of London, to which he referred on a number of occasions. When in 1875 he was seeking election onto the Common Council to represent the ward of Castle Baynard he wrote a letter to the ward’s electors, printed in the City Press, in which he stated:
‘I may add that my grandfather was in the year 1821 elected to represent the Ward, and that my father Mr. James Shelton Newbon, whom many of you can remember, was Ward Clerk for upwards of twenty years, and you may rely that these circumstances will stimulate me to use my best endeavours to secure the respect and good wishes of the Ward in which my predecessors were and in which I still am so closely interested.’
Elected at the same time as him was his first cousin Charles James Crickmer. Joseph’s elder brother Charles Evans Newbon later served on the Common Council in 1919-
Similarly, when in 1874 he became Vestry Clerk to the Parish of St Ann, Blackfriars, Joseph was not the first Newbon to have held the post: his father James Shelton Newbon had done so from 1840 to 1859 and his elder brother Thomas did so from 1859 to 1866. Many members of the Newbon family were freemen of the Bakers’ Company and so when Joseph received his City freedom he was the latest in a long line. His brother Charles Evans Newbon went on to serve as Master of the guild. The Newbons were in fact descended from a family of bakers and millers who during the 17th and 18th centuries lived in the village of King’s Cliffe in Northamptonshire. Joseph’s great-
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