NEWLAND, George (c.1646-1714), of Smithfield and Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London
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Family and Education
b. c. 1646, at least 2nd s. of George Newland, miller of Salford, Oxon. m. 8 Sept. 1677, Rebecca (d. 1725), da. of Edward Turgis, Draper, of London, 7s. (3 d.v.p.) 2 da. suc. fa. aft. 1675. Kntd. 3 June 1706.1
Freeman, Joiners’ Co. 1676, warden 1685, master 1686; common councilman, London 1689–92, 1697–8, 1700–4, auditor 1705–7, 1708–10; asst. London corp. of poor 1698; freeman, Hertford 1699.2
Commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711, building 50 new churches 1711–d.3
Even for contemporaries such as Peter Le Neve, Newland’s background remained obscure, but it can be pieced together by tracing his familial and professional connexions with the City Joiners’ Company. His brother’s apprentice indenture reveals that the family hailed from the Oxfordshire hamlet of Salford, where his father, a miller, was deemed too poor to pay the hearth tax in 1665. Fortunately for his offspring, redemption came in the form of Henry Travers, a lawyer from nearby Chipping Norton who had married one of Newland’s aunts. Travers served as clerk to the Joiners’ Company, and under the Commonwealth secured an apprenticeship for George’s elder brother John. Before his death in 1675, John Newland had successfully established himself as a scrivener in Smithfield, a rapid rise capped in 1673 by his election to the mastership of the Joiners’ Company. Such an achievement no doubt encouraged George Newland to choose the same career path, although his advancement was clearly aided by political circumstances. His prominence in the remodelled company under James II bespoke Tory principles which he maintained throughout his political career, but he was removed from his livery offices in September 1687, evidently for his equivocal support for the King’s controversial policies.4
Having embarked on a civic career in the wake of the Revolution, Newland was identified in Mar. 1690 by a fellow Tory, Sir Peter Rich†, as one of the ‘leading and brisk men in common council’ who were commended for their ‘interest and good ability’. At the end of that year he featured as one of the Tory petitioners who endeavoured to bring to the attention of the Commons the abuses perpetrated by the Whig aldermanic bench since the Act to restore the London charter. In a subsequent Whig broadside, A New Year’s Gift for the Tories, his rivals acknowledged Newland’s prominence in City politics by citing him as one of the ‘Rapperrees’ who had failed to undermine the Whiggish dominance of the aldermanic bench. He did not challenge for an alderman’s seat in the course of William’s reign, possibly because his role as one of the representatives of Faringdon Without, the City’s largest ward, already accorded him sufficient status. Nor does he appear to have acted as a government financier, even though he had been recommended as one of the Crown’s possible creditors in 1690. More surprisingly, one of his few noteworthy public acts before entering Parliament was to give his backing to the London corporation of the poor, an institution with strong Dissenting links. Truer to form, however, he was reported in 1699 to have actively discouraged the collection of rates in his ward for this charity.5
Newland’s decision to stand for Parliament was a direct result of the death in 1704 of his distant kinsman Thomas Turgis*, who bequeathed the manor of Gatton to Newland’s eldest son, William*. At 19, William was still too young to take up the parliamentary seat annexed to the lordship and thus his father sat for Gatton in the Parliament of 1705. Newland’s Tory credentials were affirmed by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) who regarded Newland’s success as a Whig loss; by his classification as a ‘Churchman’ in another parliamentary list; and, on 25 Oct. 1705, by his opposition to the Court candidate in the division on the Speakership. In his first Parliament Newland made no significant contribution to the business of the House, but he did gain the public recognition of a knighthood in June 1706 on presenting the Queen with a loyal address on behalf of the City lieutenancy. Even while sitting for a pocket borough, Newland could not afford to ignore the wishes of his London supporters if he planned to further his political career, particularly as his ambitious son would soon be eligible to take up the seat at Gatton.
Having twice been identified as a Tory in parliamentary lists early in 1708, Newland served notice of his own growing ambition by standing for a vacant alderman’s place for the Castle Baynard ward. He won but then ‘made interest to decline it’, although he subsequently helped to ensure the successful candidacy of fellow Tory William Lewen*. In the wake of an easy victory at the Gatton election of May 1708, this civic campaign may have served as a test of his standing in the capital, but even greater encouragement for Newland’s plans came in the course of the trial of Dr Sacheverell. His son, in particular, played a prominent role in orchestrating the movements of the Tory mob, and it was later claimed of Newland himself that ‘the great interest he had with some people was chiefly owing to his public adhering to, and stickling for, Dr Sacheverell’. His opposition to the impeachment aside, Newland remained inconspicuous, his only appearance of note in the Journals occurring on 13 Mar. 1710 when reference was made to the financial advice he had imparted to the Company of Mine Adventurers several years before.6
Newland’s close identification with Sacheverell was evidently the chief recommendation for his candidacy at the London election of October 1710, but his commercial background rendered him a still greater asset in a contest where the stability of public credit remained a major issue. Having trailed all four Whig candidates after the second day of polling, Newland’s support rallied over the next three days to ensure that he was the third of the four Tories to be returned. His victory was made all the sweeter by the fact that the City Whigs had confidently expected to monopolize the London seats, but he was to be less fortunate in the major political skirmish of the following year. At the aldermanic election for the Broad Street ward in September 1711, Newland was initially returned at the head of the poll. However, (Sir) Gilbert Heathcote*, the incumbent lord mayor and one of the parliamentary candidates defeated in 1710, used his authority to ensure the return of one of Newland’s rivals. Such actions caused a storm of protest from City Tories, but Newland’s appeal against Heathcote failed to secure him a seat on the aldermanic bench.7
At Westminster itself Newland had already gained a much greater prominence by virtue of his City constituency. On 19 Mar. 1711 he reported on a petition from the London bakers in relation to the Act regulating the assize of bread, and later managed the bill to amend that Act. He probably gained further local support by his close involvement with a bill to regulate the Thames fishery. More factiously, he was also named to the committee of inquiry investigating the invitation to the poor Palatine refugees. His prominence within Tory ranks was confirmed in the course of 1711 by his appointment to two commissions instituted by Robert Harley’s* administration, to raise subscriptions for the South Sea Company, and to supervise the building of 50 new churches in London. Political observers were also convinced of his party loyalties, for he was cited as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who had endeavoured in the first session of the 1710 Parliament to detect the past ministry’s mismanagements, and labelled a ‘Tory patriot’ for opposing the continuation of the war. He was accordingly listed in February 1712 as one of the few traders belonging to the October Club.8
However, the third session saw Newland torn between the interests of his party and those of his constituents, when the House came to debate the French commerce treaty. His attack on the agreement on 14 May 1713 aroused much comment, coming as it did from a Member ‘who had before gone with the Court’. He subsequently voted against the ministry in the key vote of 18 June, a rebellious example which was followed by two of his fellow London MPs. Less dramatically, he sponsored a private naturalization bill during this session, and was named to the drafting committee on a measure to protect London freemen’s privileges. He also reported on 1 July from the committee on a merchant petition concerning the Admiralty court’s seizure of a cargo of captured French claret.
Despite the differences among the City Tories revealed by the division on the French commerce treaty, their Whig rivals seriously miscalculated by putting trade at the top of their campaign agenda in the run-up to the London election of 1713. Rather than undermining Newland’s position, this allowed the Tories to portray their leaders as defenders of national trade, and as patriots who put country before party. In the course of another closely contested poll Newland received the second highest number of votes and all four Tories were returned. The following year, however, on the morning of 26 Mar. 1714, he threw himself out of a second-storey window at his house in Salisbury Court and was killed instantly. He was ‘aged about 68’. There was speculation that he might have been driven to suicide by ‘le mauvais état de ses affaires’, but the coroner’s report officially declared him a lunatic. ‘A contusion in his head which happened some years since by a fall from his horse’ had left him susceptible to violent changes of mood, and a recent late-night sitting on the Brackley election, where he had ‘warmly stickled’ for the Tory petitioners, was held responsible for his last, fatal fit. While The Post Boy extolled Newland’s ‘loyalty, integrity and firm adherence to the constitution in church and state’, Boyer was more sanguine in appraising his career, particularly with regard to the factious nature of his popular support. His son William, an even more ardent Tory, succeeded him in fortune but never aspired to emulate his success in the City.9
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 493; IGI, London; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 120–1.
- 2. Woodhead, 120–1; Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 291; Herts. RO, Hertford bor. recs. 25/102.
- 3. Pittis, Present Parl. (1711), 351; E. G. W. Bill, Queen Anne Churches, p. xxiii.
- 4. H. L. Phillips, Annals of Joiners’ Co. 120; Guildhall Lib. ms 8052/1; Hearth Tax Returns: Oxon 1665 (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xxi), 166; PCC 142 Penn, 127 Eure; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 58; HLRO, Main Paper series 154(f).
- 5. Dorset RO, Fox-Strangways mss D124/235, bdle. 4, Sir Peter Rich to Sir Stephen Fox*, 17 Mar. 1690; Ralph, Hist. Eng. ii. 251; Beaven, ii. 195; Macfarlane thesis, 326, 369.
- 6. Post Man, 1–4 June 1706; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 375; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletters 11, 20, 25 Nov. 1708; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 128.
- 7. G. S. De Krey, Fractured Soc. 227, 232; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 51, Thomas Bateman to Sir William Trumbull*, 11 Oct. 1710; Boyer, Pol. State, i. 14.
- 8. Pittis, Present Parl. 351; Commns. Building 50 New Churches, ed. Port (London Rec. Soc. xxiii), 182; Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 158.
- 9. Rapin, Hist. Eng. ii. 315; De Krey, 245; Luttrell, vi. 726; Add. 17677 HHH, f. 150; Boyer, vii. 268; Post Boy, 25–27 Mar. 1714.