Francis (Frank) Newman of North Cadbury
1717 - 1796

Relationship to me: Great Great Great Great Great Uncle Gen -6
Francis Newman (undated)
Portrait of Francis Newman of North Cadbury, 18th century English School, Oil on canvas, Unsigned 30 x 25ins
Born Baptised in Sherborne, Dorset, 23 Aug 1717 (from  
Died 1796, buried at Piddletrenthide, Dorset (will proved May 1797)  
Age 78  
Father:      Charles Newman 1694 - 1734
Mother: Hannah Sandys  d. 1736
Brothers: Charles Newman bap Jun 1724 - 1794
  Henry Newman bap Jan 1726 - 1798
Sisters: Ann  bap Jan 1718 - ????
  Hannah Sandys bap Sep 1722 - 1724
Married: Jane Sampson, daughter of Henry Sampson of Wells - m. Sherborne 19th June 1752; buried North Cadbury 2 Aug 1794 (see below) 1729 - 1784 (or 1794)
Children: Frances Charlotte who married her cousin Francis 1758 - 1834
  Jane, married William Walter Yea at N.Cadbury 1st May 1783 (see Debrett's Baronetage of England) 1760 - 1829
  Catherine, married James Rogers of Rainscombe, in 1788 - see Access Genealogy 1762 - 1832

Note: Two undated paintings of Francis Newman were kindly sent to me by Alex Newman-Rogers, Francis's descendant through his daughter Catherine. The earlier one (above) is by an unknown artist. The later one below is from a miniature. Larger images can be seen by clicking on each of the two pictures.

Frank Newman Chronology (including dates of historical importance):


King George I comes to the throne of Great Britain

  Aug: Frank Newman baptized in Sherborne

King George I dies. George II succeeds to the throne

Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, comes to power.
Jan: Frank's father Charles Newman dies when Frank is aged 17.
Frank's mother Hannah Sandys dies when Frank is 19.
  Aged 23, Frank joins his siblings and grandmother Eleanor in a Chancery dispute brought against them by his aunts and uncles in relation to the administration of his father's estate
Francis's grandmother Eleanor Newman dies when Frank is 24.
  Chancery case continues with Frank taking the place of his deceased grandmother as executor of his father's will
  Frank, aged 35, marries Jane Sampson, daughter of Henry Sampson of Wells
Start of the Seven Years War between England and France (later joined by others).
  Rev. William Baily granted the "living" of South Cadbury by Frank's uncle Francis Newman.
William Pitt (the elder) forms government in partnership with Duke of Newcastle
  Frank's eldest surviving daughter, Frances, is born. Frank is aged 41.
  Frank's second surviving daughter Jane is born.
King George III succeeds to the throne
October: William Pitt resigns from leadership of the British government
  Frank's second surviving daughter Catherine is born.
First Newcomen steam engine introduced, marking the start of the industrial revolution
  Frank, aged 47, defends himself in Chancery Court (Proceedings C12/31/16) against a complaint by Lord Francis Seymour that he had taken over Seymour's grandfather's estate.
  Frank's uncle Francis dies, leaving his various estates to Frank (now aged 51), to be passed on through the family "in tail male" (i.e. through the male line).
Captain Cook discovers Australia and claims it for the British crown.
  Aged 54, Frank takes up the duties of Justice of the Peace (JP).
Dec 16: Boston Tea Party brought about by Britain imposing taxes on tea exported to the American colonies
  Frank convicts his cousin, William Baily, for uttering blasphemies and profane oaths.
  Frank is convicted of perverting the course of justice and sent to prison pending payment of heavy fines and securities. His name is removed from the roll of JPs.
July 4: United States of America declares independence from Britain.
  Frank encourages the marriage of his eldest daughter Frances to her first cousin Francis, promising his nephew title to South Cadbury and Sparkford estates
  Frank postpones transfer of title to South Cadbury and Sparkford estates to his nephew on his reaching the age of 21.
  Nephew Francis claims he is in distressed financial circumstances because Frank has still failed to honour his dowry commitment.
Apr 15: The Treaty of Paris ends the American Revolution.
Mar: 24 year old William Pitt the Younger becomes Britain's youngest and second-longest-serving Prime Minister
  Frank's nephew Francis leaves his wife and absconds with Lydia Sheridan
  Frank joins his daughter Frances in lodging a bill of complaint against his nephew Francis for failing to pay a £100 annuity to Francis - ref C12/629/31.
June 14: Storming of the Bastille in Paris marks beginning of the French Revolution.
  Francis Newman the younger borrows money against his inheritance of Cadbury and Sparkford properties.
21 Jan: Louis XVI, King of France, is executed.
1 Feb: France declares war on Great Britain.
  Aged 76, Frank is convicted of riding his horse through a turnpike gate without paying the toll.
  Frank makes his will, leaving his possessions (now limited to his house in Piddletrenthide) to his wife
  March: Frank writes a letter stating that he had moved to "Westhouse" near the village of Cerne, Dorset (next door to Piddletrenthide) - ref C12/204/33
  October: Frank signed an indenture with James Rogers describing himself as "Francis Newman of North Cadbury [and] Lord of the Manor of Sparkford.
  Frank dies aged 78. His will is proven in May 1797
  Frank's executors respond to a complaint by his nephew Francis (now in America) relating to agreements made in 1783.

Francis Newman (undated)Introduction

Francis (known as Frank Newman according to the evidence of his 1776 trial) was baptized in Sherborne, Dorset, in August 1717. Little is known about his early life, other than that he trained in the law and at some stage practiced as an attorney and solicitor (see Chancery Proceedings C 12/204/33) and Justice of the Peace, while his youngest brother Henry trained for the cloth.

For some years, Frank lived in Sherborne where he married Jane Sampson in June 1752. There are also record of Francis Newman of Sherborne signing leases in 1748 and 1751 - see ref Nos A\AHT/151, DD\AH/1/3/10 and others.

Frank inherited the Sparkford and Cadbury estates on the death of his uncle Francis Newman in 1768.  He was the last of the Newmans to possess large estates, the other Newman estates of Fifehead and Evercreech having been sold in the 1770s after the death of Frank's second cousin Frances Newman.

1776 Prosecution for Perverting the Course of Justice

It appears that Frank and his brother Charles were both somewhat disreputable characters who brought the Newman name into disrepute. In 1776 Frank was convicted by the Court of King's Bench of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to imprisonment in custody pending payment of a fine of £200 and the presentation of £500 security of for his good behaviour for a period of three years, plus two sureties of £250 each. His name was also struck from all Commissions of the Peace. [According to, "in 2014, the relative value of £500 0s 0d from 1776 ranges from £59,330.00 to £5,490,000.00."]

The case was an extraordinary one in which it was claimed that in May 1774 Frank, in pursuing a grudge against his cousinWilliam Baily, vicar of South Cadbury, arranged for his brother Charles to being an action accusing Bailey of assault and of uttering blasphemous oaths. Baily was summoned to appear before the local court where, in Frank's absence, he was acquitted. On later hearing of this, Frank issued a new summons calling Baily to appear before him (as Justice of the Peace in the local court) to answer the same charges for which he had already been acquitted.

Frank held court in the Sun Inn in North Cadbury, a pub that he owned and which he was able to rent out at twice the normal rate on the strength of the business that his court brought in. After being forced to wait for over an hour in the crowded pub, Baily was finally brought before Frank who instantly convicted him of the offenses for which he had previously been acquitted, refusing to hear his witnesses, and imposing a fine of one guinea. Baily subsequently appealed to a higher court, as a consequence of which Frank was brought before the Court of King's Bench at the Taunton Assizes where he was convicted and fined and barred for life from practicing again as a JP.

The case is also summarised in "The Office, Powers, and Jurisdiction, of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of Supply" by Robert Boyd (published 1787 and available through Google Books). A PDF copy of the relevant text can be downloaded here.

A fuller account of the case is published by ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) under the curious title "The Trial of an Information Issuing Out of the Court of King's-Bench, on the Prosecution of William Baily, Clerk, Against Francis Newman, and John Hunt, Esqrs. ... for Certain Trespasses and Misdemeanors at the Assizes at Taunton" - ISBN 9781171472117 (image at right). Pertinent paragraphs from this document can be downloaded by clicking here. It offers a clear, if ugly, picture of a man who appears to have lost all sense of propriety. In his introduction, Mr Gould for the prosecution passed several scathing observations, including:

Frank was in his late 50s when these charges were laid against him, and Gould's comment that "the fame of [Francis Newman's] proceedings has made him known throughout this county, almost as well as in the courts of Westminster Hall", could imply that this case was not the first instance that he had abused his office and status.

Two records relating to the case were found in the Somerset Records Office in 2012. One is a conviction record against William Baily, signed by Frank, stating "Be it remembered that on the first day of August in the fourteenth year of his Majesty's Reign, William Baily of South Cadbury ... was convicted before his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Somerset of swearing four profane oaths often with(?) God Damn You. Given under the hand and seal the day and year aforesaid." (See here for scanned image).

The other record is an extract from the Sherborne Mercury of July 1776 advertising an account of the trial of Frank Newman at the Taunton Assizes on 1st April 1776 (price 1/6d) - see attached scanned copy.

Further notes on the above case:

  1. The Newmans of Cadbury held the advowson rights over the parish of South Cadbury, giving them the rights to appoint its rectors. William Baily was granted the "living" of South Cadbury in 1757 following on from his father who held it before him. It must therefore have been Frank's uncle Francis who had made the appointment.
  2. Prosecutions relating to swearing and uttering profanities were not uncommon in the licentious climate of the late 18th Century. A search for the words "swearing profane oaths" in the on-line catalogue of the Somerset Records Office (SRO), produces a list of 760 records between 1701 and 1798.
  3. A search of SRO's records for the words "Francis Newman JP" lists 37 records dating from 1693 to 1793. The first four are dated 1693 to 1709 (and therefore nothing to do with Frank). The 37th record is to with a conviction against Frank Newman as described below. The other 32 records are dated between 1771 and 1776 and may therefore be assumed to be cases that Frank adjudicated over, and quite probably they indicate the period over which he acted as a JP. The last record is dated 3rd Feb 1776 and involved the conviction of Joan Yerbury of North Cadbury for selling cider without being duly licensed; presumably this was Frank's last case before being disbarred.
  4. It may be of relevance that in the 20 years between 1769 and 1789, the date of the last case of "swearing profane oaths", the highest incidence of cases occcured between 1771 and 1776, the same years when Frank was sitting as a JP (see plot at right). It might be wondered if this high rate of conviction was associated with Frank's influence on the other JPs in the district. The period between the months of June and September 1774 saw 11 convictions (including William Baily's), giving it one of the highest incidences of blasphemy prosecutions. William Baily's conviction was unusual only in respect of his being a cleric.
  5. There is one SRO record of a case in May 1773 in which a William Pitman of North Cadbury, Labourer, was convicted of cutting down and taking part of a quick hedge belonging to Francis Newman, Esquire. JPs: John Hunt, Ja[me]s Melliar (three of the JPs involved in William Baily's hearings). This may indicate that the three of them were neighbours.

Intra-Family Disputes

It had long been thought (by Cliff Ranson and other researchers) that Frank's nephew Francis had been imprisoned for debt and that his wife Frances (Frank's daughter) had come to his rescue. Whilst the young Francis certainly had financial problems and admitted to being arrested by his creditors, there is no firm evidence that he was imprisoned. It is therefore possible that the story derived from a confusion between names and that it was Frank Newman who ended up in Taunton jail while he waited for his wife and/or daughters to bring the funds needed to secure his release. The court record of Frank Newman's reprehensible behaviour also lends credence to Campbell Newman's characterization of him as recounted below.

Frank's antipathy towards his cousin William Baily may have been associated with broader divisions within the family. For instance, thirty years earlier there had been a inter-generational family ruction following the 1734 death of Frank's father, Charles Newman, which involved almost every living member of the Newman family and some of their non-Newman relations. This led to a Chancery Court hearing in 1740 as described in a follow-up hearing in 1742 - see Chancery Proceedings No C 11/625/31. In the first (1740) hearing, all the complainants were brothers, sisters and brothers-in-law of Charles Newman, including:

and the defendants included all the sons and daughter of Charles Newman, plus his elder brother, his sister-in-law and his mother (who was also his executrix), viz:

The year following the initial hearing Eleanor (née Mompesson) Newman died, and Frank Newman who by then would have been a young lawyer, took over administration his father's estate. It seems that the 1742 hearing was held so that legal processes that had been suspended after Eleanor's death could be "revived against Francis Newman [of this page], and be in the plight and condition as the same were in at her death". The 1742 proceedings don't state what the earlier dispute was about, but clearly it was associated with the distribution of Charles Newman's estate, and it may be that this may have resulted in resentment between the Newmans and the Bailys which formed the backdrop to the 1774-76 debacle.

In April 1757 another case was brought to the Chancery Court in which Frank Newman was one of several complainants including a William Yea whose daughter would one day marry Frank's daughter Jane (see C12-765-92). Details of the case are as yet unknown.

Another odd case involving Frank Newman was heard in the Chancery Court in 1764 - see Chancery Proceedings C12/31/16. This case involved the Lord Francis Seymour (who died in 1799 and was fourth son of Edward Seymour, 8th Duke of Somerset) as complainant, while his elder brother Edward Seymour, 9th Duke of Somerset (1717-92) and Frank Newman were defendants. The complaint related to a legacy of £2000 that had not been paid to the complainant from his grandfather's estate, Frank Newman being involved to the extent that "he had possessed himself of, amongst other things, the estate of the complainant’s grandfather".

[Note: The summary of the proceedings doesn't stack up precisely with Wikipedia's records in that it states that the complainant's grandfather was also Edward Duke of Somerset who had made his will in 1745 in his then name of Sir Edward Seymour of Maiden Bradley, whereas it seems to have been Lord Francis's father (the 8th Duke) who had formerly been Sir Edward Seymour of Maiden Bradley, while his grandfather had not been Duke of Somerset at all, but Sir Edward Seymour, of Berry Pomeroy, 5th Baronet, MP who died c.1740. The summary is however correct in stating that the 8th Duke had brothers by the name of Francis and William (plus 8 sisters). At any rate, no indication is given as to how Frank Newman had possessed himself of the estate of the Duke of Somerset, but given his later actions, the implications are not good.]

Long-standing Dispute between Frank Newman and his nephew/son-in-law Francis Newman:

In 1786 Frank became involved in several disputes with his nephew and son-in-law Francis Newman who had married his daughter Frances in 1778. The couple split up in 1784 after which numerous claims and counterclaims were heard in the chancery court. The dispute began when Frank's daughter Frances together with Frank and Frances Charlotte (her baby daughter) took action against her husband Francis in pursuit of (amongst other things) a £100 annuity that she claimed he had failed to pay her (see Chancery Proceedings C12/629/31). In his defence, Francis claimed that Frances's father (Frank) had promised him 400 acres of land in Sparkford and 200 acres in South Cadbury as part of the marriage settlement, but that after the marriage Frank had postponed the settlement until Francis reached the age of 21 (in May 1780). Then when he reached the age of 21, despite subsequent appeals, Frank had continued to put off the young Francis with promises and excuses until 1783 by when Francis had got into "distressed circumstances", presumably by borrowing money against his anticipated marriage settlement. The story of young Francis, his debts and his marriage failure are told on another page, but it seems clear that his problems derived at least in part from to his uncle's dissembling and prevarication.

This dispute lingered on for years. Sometime before Frank's death his nephew Francis (by then living in America) lodged a bill of complaint against him through the Chancery Court. The case dragged on to the extent that after Frank's death, Francis had to take out a supplementary bill against his executors. The dispute, as finally recorded, was between Francis Newman and his cousin Catherine Rogers and is reviewed in The English Reports, Volume 4; Volume 37 page 997 which sets out both the background to the case and the findings. Of interest is a summary of the earlier disputation between the two Francises (uncle and nephew) relating to the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates and reference to a later dispute relating to the Queen Camel rectory and the North Leaze Park estates. The case is described in legal terminology that is not easy to decipher. What follows is a simplified interpretation of the case, but the original wording can be found here.


  1. Francis Newman of North Cadbury who died in 1768 and left his several properties, including the Queen Camel rectory, North Leaze Park estates, Sparkford, and South Cadbury to his nephew Frank for life, thence to be handed down "in tail male" to his sons or to his brother's sons - i.e. to his nephew Francis. A further provision allowed the possessor of the estates to "settle any part of the estates not exceeding in value £200 a year, upon any woman they might marry for her life".
  2. Shortly after the death of his uncle in 1768, in accordance with his uncle's will, Frank settled the rectory of Queen Camel (having a yearly value of £200) on his wife Jane.
  3. By indentures of "lease and release" dated the 14th and 15th of Feb 1783, the young Francis conveyed his "remainder in fee" in the Queen Camel rectory and in the North Leaze Park estate (which had a yearly value of £120), to Henry Sampson and Simon Payne to the use of Frank Newman for life, with remainder to the use of Jane his wife for life, with remainder to the use of their daughters. In other words, it would appear, the young Francis sold or waived his inheritance rights to the Queen Camel rectory, North Leaze Park estates to Frank and his family.
  4. By other indentures of the same date, Frank and young Francis conveyed the Sparkford and Cadbury estates (having a yearly value of £520) to Thomas Watson, and Simon Payne subject to the remainders to the sons of Frank Newman, and to the remainder to his brother Henry Newman for his life. This appears to suggest that the young Francis sold to his uncle, the title (or his future entitlement?) to the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates which Frank had granted to him as dowry when he married Frances. At any rate, it was agreed that Watson and Payne (presumably acting as agents) would pay an annuity of £100 to Frances out of the rents and any surplus to young Francis.
  5. It was admitted that at the period when the last-mentioned deeds were executed, "Francis Newman the younger was in distressed circumstances", and that Francis Newman the elder, was then of the age of sixty-five years, and Jane Newman his wife, of the age of fifty-four years.

The Original Bill (date not known but sometime before Frank's death)

The original Bill was filed by Francis Newman the younger against Simon Payne and Frank Newman, alleging that:

    1. When nephew Francis married (in 1780), Frank Newman had agreed to transfer to Francis his life interest in the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates as a marriage settlement;
    2. In agreeing to allow the conveyance of the Sparkford and Cadbury estates to Thomas Watson, and Simon Payne, it had been intended that Frank and Francis would jointly share the power to grant leases "and copies of court roll" for their joint benefit, but that by fraud and imposition by Frank Newman the estates "had not been conveyed in any other manner than by the indentures of the 14th and 15th of February 1783" and that the power of granting leases and copies of court roll had been reserved to Frank Newman separately for his own benefit. It appears that Francis was claiming that he signed the indentures of 14th and 15th of February 1783 which he "had been fraudulently induced to execute", not realizing that they did not match what he had agreed to.

In his original submission, Francis asked that Frank be made to account for the rents and profits of the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates from the time of his marriage until the he gained possession of them, and to pay whatever was due to him fromt them. He also asked that the powers that Frank obtained for granting leases of the estates should be set aside "for fraud and imposition" and that Frank be forced to deliver up or cancel all the leases that had been granted by him, or that a proportion of the rents that he had received be paid to Francis. He also asked that that the conveyances of the Queen Camel rectory and North Leaze estates be set aside and reconveying back to Francis - or if Frank had sold the North Leaze Park estate then the proceeds should be given to Francis.

Supplementary Bill (date not known but sometime after Frank's death)

Francis's supplementary bill was filed against Frank's executors and against Catherine Rogers who claimed title to the Rectory of Queen Camel through the powers of her father as granted in the indenture of release of the 15th of February 1783.

Franks Defence:

In response Frank's executors pleaded the "Statute of Frauds in bar of the discovery" - i.e. that the marriage dowry agreements had never been committed to writing and could therefore not be enforced - and that the other claims described in the Bill had never been agreed upon. Furthermore they claimed that the sum that Frank had paid to Francis for the for "the conveyance of the reversions" of the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates was fair and reasonable. And as for the North Lease Park estate, this had been settled upon the marriage of Jane Yea, Frank's second daughter. [Note: ref DD\PM/16/1/1-2 confirms that in April 1783, Frank negotiated a Lease and release comprising Northleaze Park estate in North Cadbury and Sparkford manors, by way of a marriage settlement between William Walter Yea and Jane.]


The case was heard in June 1809 and judgment was handed down on 1st of August 181l (and subsequently confirmed on appeal in Nov 1822, four years after Francis's death). The judgment is summarized as follows:

  1. The court found against Francis's claim of fraud against Frank and his claim for the recovery of rents and profits from the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates from the time of his marriage. [Presumably the judgment rejected Francis's claim that he was deceived by his uncle on the grounds Francis's signature on the indentures was the only evidence on which to base a verdict.]
  2. The court found in favour of Francis's claim that he was entitled to have the rectory at Queen Camel transferred back to him, and to have the rents and profits from it that had accrued since Frank's death paid to him. [It is not clear why the court accepted this claim, when it appears that Francis had signed away his entitlement to these estates.]
  3. The court also found in favour of Francis to the extent that the value of the North Lease Park estate should be taken out of Frank's estate and paid to Francis along with the rents and profits from it that had accrued since Frank's death.
  4. The court then directed that the value of the rents and profits from the Sparkford and South Cadbury estates received by Francis during his uncle's lifetime be deducted from the value of the North Lease Park estate and the rents and profits from it, that were payable to Francis under the judgment.
  5. The court further directed that the amount payable to Francis under the judgment, plus his costs associated with his claim to the Queen Camel rectory rectory and the North Lease Park estate, be paid to him out of Frank’s estate, and that title to the Queen Camel rectory be transferred back to Francis.

It may be that the court found that Frank had no legal right to transfer title to the Queen Camel rectory rectory and the North Lease Park estate to his daughters because of the conditions of his uncle's will required that they be passed down through the male line.

Later Cases

Late in his life, Frank was still making appearances in the Chancery Court. His name appears in Proceedings C12/204/33 dated 1795, in which he claimed the right to appoint the Rector to the parish for which he had taken part payment for the sale of the rights and then reneged on the sale because he wanted to appoint his son-in-law James Rogers to the living.

SRO's records include one dated 11 Sep 1793 described as a "Memorandum of conviction of Francis Newman of North Cadbury, Esq. for riding a horse through Sparkford Lowerside turnpike gate without paying the toll. JP: James Grenville, William Dickinson, William Howe".

Loss of Sparkford and Cadbury Estates

Around about this time, it is believed that Frank was forced to sell the remaining Newman estates to the Bennett family. Some evidence suggests that Sparkford was sold around 1794 and Cadbury in 1794 or 1795, but these sales may have taken place earlier. The precise circumstances that forced the sale remain unknown, but it is likely to be associated with the mortgaging of the Newman properties in 1789 by young Francis Newman. In September of that year, an agreement was drawn up between Francis and a London businessman by the name of Alexander Higginson in which Higginson loaned £7,000 against the surety of the Cadbury and Sparkford properties under which the loan was to be repaid at twice the starting value (i.e. £14,000) following the death of Frank Newman, when Francis expected to inherit the properties - see transcriptions of the relevant indenture and mortgage agreement. It remains unknown what became of this agreement, but it is not unlikely that after Francis emigrated to the USA, Frank may have been forced by Higginson to sell the properties which appear to have passed into the hands of James Bennett around 1793 or 1794 - which appears to have been the time when Francis made his departure. The date of the sale of the properties has not yet been determined, but on 25 Oct 1794 Frank signed his will (see below) in which he stated that had by then moved with his wife and daughter Frances, to Westhouse in the Dorset village of Piddletrenthide some 2 miles east of Cerne.

It is noteworthy that in October 1789 the young Francis had been pursued through the Chancery Court by his brother-in-law James Rogers who claimed that Francis had attempting to defraud him out of £6,922 by selling him his rights of inheritance to properties, expectant on the death of Frank Newman - see refer Proceedings C12/171/26. This was precisely the arrangement that he seems to have made with Higginson, presumably after Rogers turned him down. It raises the interesting question as to whether Francis the younger was legally entitled to mortgage his inheritance in this way, and also whether he did so with his uncle's (Frank Newman's) knowledge and agreement.

Frank's last days in Piddletrenthide

According to Chancery Proceedings C12/204/33 (mentioned above) Frank confirming the statement in his will in a letter dated 21st March 1795 in which he stated that he had moved to a dwelling called "Westhouse" near the village of Cerne, Dorset. Yet on 2nd October 1795, he signed an indenture with James Rogers describing himself as "Francis Newman of North Cadbury in the county of Somerset Esquire Lord of the Manor of Sparkford". The indenture relates to a 99 year lease on a house, garden and orchard that had been in the possession of an Ambrose Gilletts, and a Close of Meadows called Milford, all in exchange for an annual rental of 5s 8d (about 28 pence).

Note: A scan of the original 1795 Francis Newman/James Rogers indenture can be downloaded by clicking here, and a transcript of it can be downloaded by clicking here.

Whatever the actual date of Frank's sale of the Newman estates and his move to Piddletrenthide, it seems that he died at there at his Westhouse home, probably in December 1796, his Will being proved in May 1797. The exact date of Frank's death has not yet been established.

Post Script:

The Sparkford and Cadbury estates were sold to the Bennett family who, from all accounts, "expunged" all traces of the Newman's occupation from both the house and church at North Cadbury. To several generations of disinherited Newmans, this action of the Bennetts remained unaccountable. However the records of the 1776 hearing in the Taunton Assizes reveal a possible cause to the effect that it was the egregious behaviour of Frank Newman and his brother Charles that caused such distaste within the local community that they were happy for evidence of their tenure in Cadbury to be erased.

A few Newman family relics were salvaged from Cadbury Court, presumably sufficient to furnish Frank's retirement home in Piddletrendhide. These along with Frank's Newman name were inherited by his grandson Francis Newman-Rogers in accordance with his will (see below).

Frank is credited with a handwritten entry in the Newman-Rogers Bible in which he records the birth of his granddaughter Frances Charlotte at Tiverton, Devon, in 1784.

Note: Cliff Hanson reported that Frank was buried at Piddletrenthide where he owned two houses "Westholme" and "Eastholme" whereas several records state that he moved to West House in Piddletrenthide. However the record of Chancery Proceedings C12/204/33 states that West House was located near the nearby village of Cerne, Cerne being about 2 miles west of Piddletrenthide. See reference to both Westhouse and Easthouse in Francis Newman's will (below).

Francis Newman 's Last Will and Testament: Frank's Will is a little unusual in that it was sworn on 25th October 1794, over two years before his death, when it was common at the time for wills to be drawn up shortly before the time of death. What is even more odd is that the main beneficiary of the will was Frank's wife (whose name is not stated in the text), especially considering that his wife Jane is said to have been buried North Cadbury on 2 Aug 1794, almost three months before Frank's will was signed. Presumably the will must have been drafted before her death, but why was it not redrafted before it was signed? Is the date for Jane's burial (coming from H.E.M. Newman's documents) wrong? [Note: An alternative date for Jane death comes from Sam Miller, antiquarian of North Cadbury, who gives her death as 1784.]

It might appear from the will that Francis still owned Sparkford Manor and the Cadbury estates since it includes reference to "all my tenants to whom I have granted leases and copies of court roll as Lord of the several manors of North Cadbury, South Cadbury and Sparkford". A possible explanation is that the sale of Sparkford took place later than 1793 (a date suggested by Phelps). Or perhaps he was referring to his ex-tenants, being unaccustomed to the idea that they were no longer "his".

In his will, Frank left to his (unnamed) wife his "dwelling house called Westhouse with the estate and lands thereto ... all my stock thereon together with the use of all my implements in husbandry .... together with the sue of all my furniture household goods stock of liquors and everything else ... for the term of her widowhood, going on to call attention to his wife's "promise of doing justice to her successor, my grandson Francis James Newman Rogers to whom at her decease or forfeiture by marriage, I give my dwelling house and lands with all its appurtenances (and) all other things given to her as his own and sole property not without hopes of his making it his place of residence in due time when it shall happen".

Interestingly, Frank also left his wife "my new built house called Easthouse now vacant with all its appurtenances, with the use of the Furniture and Household goods ...". So it seems likely that he built two houses in the village one to live in and one for rent. An East House still exists on the east side of the village street (photo right) but it is not known whether it is the house the Frank built. It seems that there is no longer a West House in the village. [Note: on the left side of the road, what appears to be a stone-lined drain is in fact the River Piddle.]

To his grandson Francis Newman Rogers, Frank left all his "farm and lands with the titles and all other rights thereto belonging called the Parsonage and Impropriate Rectory of Queen Camel in the county of Somerset and also all other my real and personal estate whatsoever .... appointing him my sole heir and executor and his father the Rev James Rogers and my friend Mr Edwin Tomkins his trustees and guardians irreversible during his minority of 21 years."

To his granddaughter Frances Charlotte Newman, Frank left a small annuity of "£40 payable to her guardian her uncle the Rev James Rogers during her father’s life only where she will be otherwise well provided for by two equal half yearly payments on the 1st April and 5th October". The implication seems to be that he anticipated that Frances's father would provide well for her in his will, perhaps implying that he was unaware that he had, by that time fathered a child by Lydia Ferguson. At any rate, Frank's expectation was ill-founded because Francis Newman made no mention of Frances Charlotte in his Last Will and Testament.

Two versions of Frank's will exist:

  1. a manuscript, said to be a copy dated 1794, now in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre;
  2. a record copy of the same will, proven in May 1797, kept in the National Archives.

A transcription of the will can be found here.

There is at least one minor difference between the two versions: in the first version, Frank's "my new built house" is called Westhouse, whereas in the second version it is called Easthouse. Both wills refer to his "dwelling house" as Westhouse.

Note: in 1809, Frank's will was challenged by his nephew Francis Newman - see reference above.

A Land Tax assessment for the North Cadbury covering the year 6th April 1796 to 5th April 1797 can be found in the Somerset Records Office. This shows Frank's estate owing £57-10s-0d, being by far the highest in the parish (around £5,300 in 2014 purchasing power value, according to

An alternative story about Frank Newman comes from another Newman website created by Campbell Newman, which includes the following:

"This Francis speculated on, bought, and built Newman Street near Oxford Street, London, and Newman Hall, co. Essex, both purchased on credit from William Berner. He married Jane, daughter of Henry SAMPSON, Clerk Prebend of Wells, and seems to have lived a life of extravagant pleasure. By her he had three daughters. The eldest, Frances Charlotte, fought with her father, eloped and married her cousin Francis at Piddletrenthide, co. Dorset in 1778. On May Day 1788, the two younger daughters were married in a lavish double wedding at North Cadbury, probably in the fashionable rococo style, to Rev. James ROGERS of Newnton, Wiltshire, Vicar of South Cadbury, and to Sir William YEA, baronet of St. James, Taunton.

Fond of gambling, alone in a large house (his wife had predeceased him in 1784), and with mounting debts, Francis lost house and everything he owned in an all-or-nothing gambling session one luckless evening in 1789/90. Berner [?] foreclosed on the properties in London and Essex. Disowned by his flamboyant younger daughters, he evidently now became reconciled to his elder daughter Frances and nephew Francis [IV] at Piddletrenthide, spending his remaining years with her on the Piddle River. He died there on Christmas Day 1796. His only surviving grandchild from the ill-fated union of daughter and nephew was Frances Charlotte, who married Robert COX, an alderman of the City of London and Justice of the Peace. The younger Francis, perhaps seeing his own fortune on the wane, deserted for a new life in America.

There are some errors in this account - for instance:

Updated 16 Sep 2015: Information added about nephew Francis's mortgaging the Newman estates, and links to various documents relating to Frank Newman.
Updated 26 Aug 2015: Links to copies of Francis's will added plus changes to the commentary about his will.
Updated 23 Sept 2012: Reference added to Francis Newman's bill of complaint against Frank's executors in 1809..
Updated 13 Sept 2012: Reference added to 1795 indenture between Frank Newman and James Rogers.
Updated 7 Sept 2012: Major rewording of text with particular reference to Francis's 1776 prosecution.
Updated 17 Feb 2012: Major rewording of text. Added links to Frances Charlotte Cox

Updated 20 Oct 2011: Minor changes to text relating to Francis's Will.
Updated 9 Feb 2011: Minor changes to text relating to Francis's Will.
Updated 11 Jan 2011: References to Francis's Will and various Chancery Proceedings added.
Updated 12 June 2005: Images of Francis Newman added, kindly sent to me by Alex Newman-Rogers.
Updated 12 June 2005: notes added about Francis's entry in the Newman-Rogers Bible, and Louisa Annie Rogers' mention of the existence of his portrait.