Sue Young Histories

Francis William Newman 1805 - 1897

September 04, 2008

Francis William Newman 1805 –
1897 Francis William Newman 1805 – 1897 the younger brother of Cardinal Newman, was an English scholar and miscellaneous writer.

In 1866, his wife was a patient of James John Garth Wilkinson, and in 1891, so was Francis William Newman. Francis William Newman’s name appears in James John Garth Wilkinson’s address book (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895).

Francis William Newman wrote for the _Westminster Review_ and was a friend of John ChapmanJohn Chapman published most of his books in a fifteen year association. Francis William Newman was also a member of the Plymouth Brethren, and he was a friend of John Vesey Parnell 2nd Baron CongletonEdward CroninThe Epps FamilyEdmund William Gosse, and many others. Newman was a correspondent of Moncure Daniel ConwayWilliam Henry ChanningRobert Browningand he was a friend of Charles Dickens. Newman also knew James Martineau, the brother of Harriet Martineau and James Anthony Froude.

… In February of the year 1866, a great trouble and anxiety fell upon Newman while he and his wife were staying at Hastings. For nine or ten days she seemed to be dying. “We got her through the acute crisis… I resigned her a full month ago, and have since not dared to hope that she can do anything but linger. Nevertheless her life is less distressing and more worth having than it was. She moves from her bed into an arm-chair; sits at table for dinner… She talks cheerfully, and can enjoy seeing her sisters. When I look at her I fancy she is pretty well;… yet I feel that she might be carried off very suddenly. Indeed, this was her mother’s case, who had the very same combination of disease, and retained much muscular strength to the last. We had two physicians at Hastings, and here she is under Dr. Garth Wilkinson…’ (Giberne Sieveking, Memoirs and Letters of Francis W Newman, (reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, 2004). Page 139).

‘… More to your personal duties it is to say that medically nothing unfavourable has happened to me since I showed myself to you. Any change is for the better, I think, except in my practice, which my local advisor was at first frightened at, but when he could find nothing wrong in me on that said was perhaps normal at my age *[86], of which he had no experience. I do not expect to become a centenarian, but am thankful to be so free from all pain and alarms and so able to be interested in human affairs and study divine providence.*.. (Swedenborg Archive K125 [41] Letter dated 29.6.1891 from Francis William Newman to James John Garth Wilkinson)…’

Francis William Newman was also a patient and a close personal friend of James John Garth Wilkinson (Swedenborg Archives N150 _Index to the letters of James John Garth Wilkinson, _letter N2 7th September 1890 from Francis William Newman to James John Garth Wilkinson to express his great grief at the loss of James John Garth Wilkinson’s brother; letter N3 29th June 1891 from Francis William Newman to James John Garth Wilkinson; Letter N4 18th March 1892 from Francis William Newman to James John Garth Wilkinson on the death of his brother Cardinal Newman).

From The _Westminster Review_ was founded in 1823 by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill as a quarterly journal for philosophical radicals, and was published from 1824 to 1914. In 1851 the journal was acquired by John Chapman based at 142 the Strand, London, a publisher who originally had medical training.

The then unknown Mary Ann Evans, later better known by her pen name of George Eliot, had brought together his authors, including Francis William Newman, William Rathbone Greg, Harriet Martineau and the young journalist Herbert Spencer who had been working and living cheaply in the offices of The Economist opposite John Chapman’s house.

John Chapman purchased the Westminster Review in 1851 and he was associated with this publication for the rest of his life. John Chapman assembled a glittering intelligentsia around the Westminster Review, which was the was the leading radical periodical of its day.

John Chapman’s soirees included many homeopaths and homeopathic supporters, including George Grote and Alexander Bain, Moncure Daniel Conway, Charles Dickens, George Henry Lewes, Robert Browning, Erasmus Alvey Darwin, and Thomas Carlyle, Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Harriet Martineau, George Everest and his brother, homeopath Thomas Roupell Everest, Robert Everest (?brother of George Everest and Thomas Roupell Everest Newman begins his friendship with Thomas Scott of Ramsgate, who hosts Sunday evening lectures in London for free-speaking on religious subjects. Through his attendance at these lectures and occasional brief appearances at the soirees of John Chapman, Newman met many of the most significant contemporary heterodox and radical thinkers in England and abroad…

Newman’s career as an outspoken critic of all forms of political oppression essentially begins during this year, which opens with the publication of his The Latest Continental Theory of Legislation in the _Westminster Review_, a journal recently acquired by John Chapman. Newman’s contributions to the _Westminster Review_ continued until 1863, with the exception of his participation in a forum on Land Nationalization in 1890…

At John Chapman’s urging, Newman wrote Catholic Union for John Chapman’s Catholic Series. It presents a blueprint on how to bring about union for philanthropic purposes, without reference to religious creeds. This book, though not without value, neither pleased its author nor its critics…

Through John Chapman, Newman publishes Theism, Doctrinal and Practical; or Didactic Religious Utterances and, in the _ __Westminster Review_, The Religious Weakness of Protestantism… With Our Relation to the Princes of India published in the ___Westminster Review_, Newman begins a series of articles critical of British policy and affairs in India…

He spends a delightful vacation in Aberystwyth, Wales, with James Martineau and William Henry Channing… He begins writing for Fraser’s Magazine, under the new editorship of James Anthony Froude, and continues to contribute until 1879…

At the invitation of Moncure Daniel Conway, Newman delivers at South Place Chapel A Discourse against Hero Making in Religion, in response to Frances Power Cobbe’s effort, in Broken Lights, to raise Jesus to heroic status as a historical and religious figure…

Newman is elected to the Executive Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, renamed the following year to the Bristol and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage… Newman becomes a member of the Central Committee for Women’s Suffrage in 1872…

in 1872 At the Friend’s Institute, in Manchester, he delivers A Lecture on Vegetarianism… in 1874 He presents his paper The Political Side of the Vaccination System at the Birmingham Anti-Vaccination Conference… in 1889 Newman, having collected together his anti-slavery essays, written between the years 1863 and 1879, has them published under the title Anglo Saxon Abolition of Negro Slavery

Born in London, Francies William Newman was, like his brother, educated at Ealing, and subsequently at Oxford, where he had a brilliant career, obtaining a double first class in 1826. He was elected fellow of Balliol in the same year.

Conscientious scruples respecting the ceremony of infant baptism led him to resign his fellowship in 1830, and he went to Baghdad as assistant in the mission of Anthony Norris Groves.

In 1833 he returned to England to procure additional support for the mission, but rumours of unsoundness in his views on the doctrine of eternal punishment had preceded him, and finding himself generally looked upon with suspicion, he gave up the vocation of missionary to become classical tutor in an unsectarian college at Bristol. His letters written home during the period of his mission were collected and published in 1856, and form an interesting little volume.

Newman’s views matured rapidly, and in 1840 he became Professor of Latin in Manchester New College, the celebrated Unitarian seminary long established at York, and the parent of Manchester College, Oxford.

In 1846 he quit this appointment to become professor in University College, London, where he remained until 1869. During all this period he was assiduously carrying on his studies in mathematics and oriental languages, but wrote little until 1847, when he published anonymously a History of the Hebrew Monarchy, intended to introduce the results of German investigation in this department of Biblical criticism.

In 1849 appeared The Soul, her Sorrows and Aspirations, and in 1850, Phases of Faith, or Passages from the History of my Creed, the former a tender but searching analysis of the relations of the spirit of man with the Creator; the latter a religious autobiography detailing the author’s passage from Calvinism to pure theism.

It is on these two books that Professor Newman’s celebrity will principally rest, as in them his intense earnestness has kept him free from the eccentricity which marred most of his other writings, excepting his contributions to mathematical research and oriental philology.

Newman’s work covered many spheres: he wrote on logic, political economy, English reforms, Austrian politics, Roman history, diet, grammar, the most abstruse departments of mathematics, Arabic, the emendation of Greek texts, and languages as out of the way as the Berber and as obsolete as the dialect of the Iguvine inscriptions.

In treating all these subjects he showed ability, but, wherever the theme allowed, an incurable crotchetiness crept in. In his numerous metrical translations from the classics, especially his version of the Iliad, he betrayed an insensibility to the ridiculous which would almost have justified the irreverent criticism of Matthew Arnold, had this been conveyed in more seemly fashion.

His miscellaneous essays, some of much value, were collected in several volumes before his death. His last publication, Contributions chiefly to the Early History of Cardinal Newman (1891), was generally condemned as deficient in fraternal feeling. He was far from possessing his brother’s subtlety of reasoning.

His character is vividly drawn by Thomas Carlyle in his life of Sterling, of whose son Newman was guardian: a man of fine attainments, of the sharpest-cutting and most restlessly advancing intellect and of the mildest pious enthusiasm. It was his great misfortune that this enthusiasm should have been correlated, as is not unfrequently the case, with an entire insensibility to the humorous side of things.

After his retirement from University College, Francis William Newman continued to live for some years in London, subsequently removing to Clifton, and eventually to Weston Super Mare, where he died in 1897. He had been blind for five years before his death, but retained his faculties to the last. He was twice married.

With thanks to the FWNS web site.


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