Alfred Newton FRS HFRSE (11 June 1829 – 7 June 1907) was an English zoologist and ornithologist. Newton was Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge University from 1866 to 1907. Among his numerous publications were a four-volume Dictionary of Birds (1893–6), entries on ornithology in the Encyclopædia Britannica (9th edition) while also an editor of the journal Ibis from 1865 to 1870. In 1900 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society and the Gold Medal of the Linnaean Society. He founded the British Ornithologists Union.
|Born||11 June 1829|
|Died||7 June 1907 (aged 77)|
|Alma mater||Magdalene College, Cambridge|
|Awards||Royal Medal (1900)|
Linnean Medal (1900)
Alfred Newton was born near Geneva in Switzerland, the fifth son of William Newton of Elveden Hall in Suffolk, MP for Ipswich; his mother Elizabeth (1789–1843) was the daughter of Richard Slater Milnes, MP for York. The family wealth was founded on sugar plantations in the Caribbean, where Alfred's grandfather Samuel Newton had a plantation in St Kitts, and a property in St Croix. William Newton returned to England in 1813, purchasing the property of Elveden, near Thetford from the Earl of Albermarle. Elveden (pronounced and sometimes spelt 'Eldon') was built in 1770 by Admiral Augustus Keppel. After the Newtons left, Elveden Hall and its estate were bought by Prince Duleep Singh in 1863, and later by the Guinness family (Earl of Iveagh).
In 1828 the Newton family made a trip to Italy, and on the way back Alfred was born on 11 June 1829 at Les Délices, a chateau near Geneva. He suffered an accident when about five or six, which left him somewhat lame in one leg. He went to school in 1844, attending Mr. Walker's school at Stetchworth near Newmarket. He was kept birds in cages and looked after other animals from a young age.
As a youth Newton shot game birds – black or red grouse, common pheasant, partridge. Birds became an abiding interest. Those included the great bustard (Otis tarda), Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), ravens, buzzards (Buteo sp.), redpolls, wrynecks (Jynx), which are small woodpeckers that specialise in feeding on ants. "The vast warrens of the 'Breck', the woods and water-meadows of the valley of the Little Ouse, and the neighbouring Fenland made an ideal training-ground for a naturalist". This enthusiasm Newton shared with his younger brother Edward: the two carried out bird observation when they were together and corresponded when they were apart.
In 1846 Newton went to a tutor in Biggleswade for a few months, and in 1848 he entered Magdalene College, Cambridge. He graduated B.A. in 1853. He took a particular interest in zoology and corresponded with many ornithologists of the time. A meeting with John Wolley at Cambridge in 1851 made them lifelong friends. He spent the rest of his life at Magdalene, and never married. A fall later in life, when he was on a trip to Heligoland, further crippled him, and he then walked with the aid of two sticks, instead of one, as formerly. "From a three-legged, he has become a four-legged man" commented a friend.
In 1853 he was awarded the Drury Travelling Fellowship of Magdalene College, but he took it up only in 1855, when the grant became available. Between 1855 and 1864 he visited many parts of the world, including Lapland, Iceland, Spitsbergen, the West Indies and North America. In 1858 he made a trip to Iceland with John Wolley with the hope of rediscovering the great auk. Shortly after their return Wolley died, and at the suggestion of P.L. Sclater Newton wrote up Wolley's notes and catalogued his collection in Ootheca Wolleyana, which was published in four parts from 1864 to 1907. In 1866 he became the first Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge, a position which he retained until his death. He was one of the few British Professors of Zoology of his time in whose appointment Huxley did not have a hand. Both Darwin and Huxley declined to support his application, on the grounds that his interests and publications were too narrowly focussed on ornithology. The procedure was for candidates to canvass for votes (presumably amongst the MAs of the University). The result of the poll was Newton 110; Dr Drosier 82. Newton was one of the first zoologists to accept and champion the views of Charles Darwin, and his early lecture courses as professor were on evolution and zoogeography.
Newton was a leader in founding the British Ornithologists' Union in 1858, and its quarterly journal, the Ibis in 1859. He wrote several books including Zoology (1872) and A Dictionary of Birds (1893–1896). He contributed memoirs to scientific societies, and edited the Ibis (1865–1870), the Zoological Record (1870–1872), and Yarrell's British Birds (1871–1882). His services to ornithology and zoogeography were recognized by the Royal Society in 1900, when it awarded him the Royal Medal.
Newton spent some time studying the vanishing birds of the Mascarene Islands, from where his brother Sir Edward Newton sent him specimens. These included the dodo on Mauritius and the solitaire on Rodrigues, both already extinct. In 1872 he described what is now known as Newton's parakeet which lived on Rodrigues before going extinct in 1875.
Newton's interest in extinct bird species such as the dodo, great auk and great bustard led him to work towards the protection of birds. He influenced the legislation of the Sea Birds Preservation Act 1869. Newton was a prominent supporter and member of the Society for the Protection of Birds (later, 1903, the RSPB) from its inception in 1889, and carried on a long campaign to influence women against the fashion of adorning their hats with the flight feathers of raptors and other fine birds. His letters to The Times and addresses to the British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings on this subject were regularly reprinted as pamphlets by the Society. Newton determined that extinction cause by human actions was different from extinction resulting from natural processes including evolution. He made efforts to clarify that his motivations for conservation were scientific and that these were distinct from sentiments influenced by earlier movements against animal cruelty and vivisection.
One of his most successful works was a series of investigations into the Desirability of establishing a 'Close-time' for the preservation of indigenous animals. These were instigated and published by the British Association between 1872 and 1903, leading towards the present-day legislation concerning the closed seasons for game fish, shell-fish, birds and mammals (Game laws). The basic concept, as is now well known, is to protect animals during their breeding season so as to prevent the stock from being brought close to extinction.
The Cambridge University Museum of Zoology contains a significant amount of material from Newton, including specimens collected in Madagascar, Polynesia, South America and the Caribbean, eggs, books and correspondence.
Not many days after my return home there reached me the part of the Journal of the Linnean Society which bears on its cover the date 20th August 1858, and contains the papers by Mr Darwin and Mr Wallace, which were communicated to that Society at its special meeting of the first of July preceding... I sat up late that night to read it; and never shall I forget the impression it made upon me. Herein was contained a perfectly simple solution of all the difficulties which had been troubling me for months past... I am free to confess that in my joy I did not then perceive that... dozens of other difficulties lay in the path... but I was convinced a vera causa [true cause] had been found... and I never doubted for one moment, then nor since, that we had one of the grandest discoveries of the age—a discovery all the more grand because it was so simple.
Only four days after the publication of the famous 1858 paper, and one day after he read it, Newton started to apply Darwin's and Wallace's idea to various problems in ornithology. Newton did not see evolutionary theory as being in conflict with his religion. He maintained a regular attendance at church and held deeply conservative views. Evolutionary theory was, for him, applicable outside of humans.
The British Association annual meeting for 1860, held in the University Museum in Oxford, was the location for one of the most important public debates in 19th century biology. Newton was present and left a record of what happened in a letter to his brother Edward. The famous debate between Huxley and Wilberforce took place on Saturday 30 June 1860 and in his letter Newton writes:
In the Nat. Hist. Section we had another hot Darwinian debate... After [lengthy preliminaries] Huxley was called upon by Henslow to state his views at greater length, and this brought up the Bp. of Oxford... Referring to what Huxley had said two days before, about after all its not signifying to him whether he was descended from a Gorilla or not, the Bp. chafed him and asked whether he had a preference for the descent being on the father's side or the mother's side? This gave Huxley the opportunity of saying that he would sooner claim kindred with an Ape than with a man like the Bp. who made so ill an use of his wonderful speaking powers to try and burke, by a display of authority, a free discussion on what was, or was not, a matter of truth, and reminded him that on questions of physical science 'authority' had always been bowled out by investigation, as witness astronomy and geology.
He then caught hold of the Bp's assertions and showed how contrary they were to facts, and how he knew nothing about what he had been discoursing on. A lot of people afterwards spoke... The feeling of the audience was very much against the Bp.
A letter, dated 25 July 1860, provides an account of the debate.
Newton was also present at the Cambridge meeting of the British Association two years later. Ever since 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his view that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo, Huxley had been on his trail. The issue had been debated at the British Association in 1860 and 1861 (Manchester). At the 1862 Cambridge meeting Huxley arranged for his friend William Flower to give a public dissection to show that the same structures were indeed present, not only in apes, but in monkeys also. Flower stood up and said "I happen to have in my pocket a monkey's brain" — and produced the object in question! (report in the Times). In a letter to his brother Newton wrote:
There was a grand kick-up again between Owen and Huxley, the former struggling against facts with a devotion worthy of a better cause. The latter now takes it easy, and laughs over it all, but Flower and Rolleston are too savage. No doubt it is very irritating when Owen will not take the slightest notice of all they have done and proved, and Owen does it all in such a happy manner, that he almost carries conviction from those who know how utterly wrong as to facts he is.
Alfred Newton published A list of the birds of Europe, a translation of the Aves section of Die wirbelthiere Europa's by Johann Heinrich Blasius.
South Australian Institute Museum opens with Frederick George Waterhouse as Curator.
Graceanna Lewis begins ornithological study at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.
Ferdinand Stoliczka joins the Geological Survey of India becoming interested in birds two years later.
Birds described in 1862 include American herring gull, slaty-backed forest falcon, Principe seedeater, yellow-throated spadebill, Réunion harrier, Wallace's fairywren,
Publication of final volume of Monographie des picidées by Alfred Malherbe.
Hermann Schlegel begins a vast work of 14 volumes Muséum d'histoire naturelle des Pays-Bas.Ongoing events
John Gould The birds of Australia; Supplement 1851-69. 1 vol. 81 plates; Artists: J. Gould and H. C. Richter; Lithographer: H. C. Richter
John Gould The birds of Asia; 1850-83 7 vols. 530 plates, Artists: J. Gould, H. C. Richter, W. Hart and J. Wolf; Lithographers:H. C. Richter and W. Hart1868 in birding and ornithology
Birds described in 1868 include Antillean siskin, Yap monarch, saffron-crested tyrant-manakin, chestnut-headed crake,
Alfred Newton proposes protection for seabirds
Death of Magnus von Wright.
August von Pelzeln publishes volume 1 of Zur Ornithologie Brasiliens; Resultate von Johann Natterers Reisen in den Jahren 1817 bis 1835.Wien, A. Pichler's Witwe & Sohne, 1868-70.Expeditions
1865–1868 Magenta circumnavigation of the globe Italian expedition that made important scientific observations in South America.Ongoing events
John Gould The birds of Australia Supplement 1851-69. 1 vol. 81 plates; Artists: J. Gould and H. C. Richter; Lithographer: H. C. Richter
John Gould The birds of Asia 1850-83 7 vols. 530 plates, Artists: J. Gould, H. C. Richter, W. Hart and J. Wolf; Lithographers:H. C. Richter and W. HartAlfred Newton Lecture
The Alfred Newton Lecture is an academic prize lecture awarded by the British Ornithological Union. It is named for Alfred Newton.Alfred Newton Richards
Prof Alfred Newton Richards (March 22, 1876 – March 24, 1966) was an American pharmacologist.British Ornithologists' Union
The British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) aims to encourage the study of birds ("ornithology") in Britain, Europe and around the world, in order to understand their biology and to aid their conservation. The BOU was founded in 1858 by Professor Alfred Newton, Henry Baker Tristram and other scientists. Its quarterly journal, Ibis, has been published since 1859.
The Records Committee (BOURC) is a committee of the BOU established to maintain the British List, the official list of birds recorded in Great Britain.
BOU is headquartered in Peterborough and is a registered charity in England & Wales and Scotland.Ciridops
Ciridops is an extinct genus of Hawaiian honeycreeper species that occurred in prehistoric and historic times on the Hawaiian islands of Hawaii, Molokai, Kauai and Oahu. This genus was created in 1892 by Alfred Newton in an article published by the journal Nature on the basis of the ʻula-ʻai-hawane, which was named Fringilla anna by Sanford B. Dole in 1879.
The bill of these birds was strong. The culmen was arched, and the maxilla overlapped the mandible at the base. The nostrils were covered by a membrane. The wings were large and the tail was moderate with pointed rectrices. The nearest relatives might have been from the genus Loxops.The ʻula-ʻai-hawane, which was last seen in 1892, is the only species that survived into historic times, three others Ciridops cf. anna from Molokai, Ciridops sp. from Oahu, and the stout-legged finch (Ciridops tenax) from Kauai are only known from subfossil remains found in late quaternary deposits.Detlev Bronk
Detlev Wulf Bronk (August 13, 1897 – November 17, 1975) was a prominent American scientist, educator, and administrator. He is credited with establishing biophysics as a recognized discipline. Bronk served as President of Johns Hopkins University from 1949 to 1953 and as President of The Rockefeller University from 1953 to 1968. Bronk also held the presidency of the National Academy of Sciences between 1950 and 1962.Edward Newton
Sir Edward Newton (10 November 1832 – 25 April 1897) was a British colonial administrator and ornithologist.
He was born at Elveden Hall, Suffolk the sixth and youngest son of William Newton, MP. He was the brother of ornithologist Alfred Newton. He graduated from Magdelene College, Cambridge in 1857 and was one of the twenty founding members of the British Ornithologists' Union.Newton was the Colonial Secretary for Mauritius from 1859 to 1877. From there he sent his brother a number of specimens, including the dodo and the Rodrigues solitaire, both already extinct. Edward was later Colonial Secretary and Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica (1877-1883). He married Mary Louisa Cranstoun, daughter of W.W.R. Kerr in 1869. She died in following year.He is commemorated in the binomial of the Malagasy kestrel, Falco newtoni.
Phelsuma edwardnewtoni, a species of gecko, is named in his honor.Ernest Newton (priest)
Ernest Alfred Newton (1868–1945) was Archdeacon of the Seychelles from 1912 to 1917.
Newton was educated at King's College, Cambridge and Wells Theological College; and ordained in 1893. After curacies in Aylesbury and Cookham he was Rector at St Paul, Darjeeling then Civil Chaplain at Mahé, Seychelles before his time as Archdeacon.Henry Eeles Dresser
Henry Eeles Dresser (9 May 1838 – 28 November 1915) was an English businessman and ornithologist.
Henry Dresser was born in Thirsk, Yorkshire, where his father was the manager of the bank set up by his grandfather. Dresser's father left Thirsk in 1840–41 to become a bank manager in Leeds before moving south to set up business as a commission merchant in the Baltic timber business in London in 1846. Henry Dresser senior was in business with his father-in-law, Robert Garbutt of Hull, who traded with Hackman and Co of Vyborg (Viipuri) in southern Finland. Henry Dresser senior purchased a large timber sawmill business, the Lancaster Mills, near Musquash in New Brunswick in 1848.
Henry Eeles Dresser was the eldest son of Henry Dresser and Eliza Ann Garbutt; he had five sisters and three brothers. His father intended him to take over the family business in the Baltic timber trade so took him out of school in Bromley and sent him to Ahrensburg in 1852, to learn German and in 1854, to Gefle and Uppsala to study Swedish. Henry Dresser spent a time in Hackman's offices in Vyborg learning Finnish during 1856–58, during which time he travelled round the Baltic coast. Dresser had a lifelong interest in birds and collected bird skins and eggs from his early teenage years. Whilst he was in Finland in 1858 he discovered breeding waxwings and was the first English person to collect their eggs bringing fame among English ornithologists, most of whom were egg and skin collectors.Through the 1860s, Dresser travelled widely through Europe and was twice in New Brunswick at his father's sawmill. He sought out ornithologists with whom he could exchange birds and eggs. In 1863, during the American Civil War, he travelled to Texas via the Rio Grande on behalf of Liverpool and Manchester businessmen, taking a cargo of blankets, quinine and other goods in short supply to be sold and purchased raw cotton with the proceeds. During his time in Texas from June 1863– July 1864 Dresser made a collection of around 400 bird skins from southern Texas. His notes from his time in Texas, published in The Ibis (1865–66) are a leading source of information for the period and include mention of several interesting birds including the extinct (or almost extinct) ivory-billed woodpecker, the almost extinct Eskimo curlew and the endangered whooping crane.Dresser was a leading figure in ornithological circles: he was elected a Member of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1865 and served as its secretary from 1882 to 1888. He was a member and fellow of the Linnean and Zoological societies of London and an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union. He was a close friend of Professor Alfred Newton, Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron Lilford and Alfred Russel Wallace and he knew all the leading ornithologists of his day. He was particularly well-known to European, American and Russian ornithologists. He worked with Alfred Newton on the development of a close time for British birds when they could not be hunted during the 1860s and 70s, an early part of the development of the bird conservation movement. He was heavily involved with the early Society for the Protection of Birds (which developed to become the RSPB). In spite of his prominence as an ornithologist, this activity came second to his business which, from 1870 until 1910, was in the iron business, with premises at 110 Cannon Street in the City.
Dresser was the author of more than 100 scientific papers on birds, mostly concerned with geographical distribution, descriptions of new species and illustrated the eggs of many species for the first time. His Manual of Palaearctic Birds (1902) was an important contribution to the delimitation of the ranges of Palaearctic birds. Dresser produced some of the last folio works on birds, notably A History of the Birds of Europe (1871–1881, supplement issued in 1895–96), begun with Richard Bowdler Sharpe. This was complemented by The Eggs of the Birds of Europe (issued 1905–1910) and monographs on bee-eaters (1884–86) and rollers (1893). These were based upon examination of the leading collections of the day, most notably his own. While producing the 'History', Dresser and some other leading ornithologists, including Lord Lilford, rented rooms at Tenterden Street in London to be close to the library of the Zoological Society of London in Hanover Square. Dresser had privileged access to the notes of many of the most prominent ornithologists, such as Russian Sergei Buturlin, who discovered the main breeding grounds of Ross's gull in 1905 in the delta of the Kolyma River in remote north-east Siberia.Dresser left England in 1912 to live in Cannes for the benefit of his health; he died in Monte Carlo. His collection of birds had been in the Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, since 1899 and was purchased for the museum by JP Thomasson (a Bolton businessman). Dresser's egg collection was acquired by the museum in 1912. The museum contains some of Dresser's correspondence and diaries.Johan Peninsula
The Johan Peninsula is located on the eastern coast of Ellesmere Island, a part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It stretches eastward into Nares Strait. Buchanan Bay is to the north, Rosse Bay to the east (separating the peninsula from Pim Island), and Baird Inlet lies to the south.
There are several glaciers surrounding the peninsula, including Leffert Glacier, Jewell Glacier, Saate Glacier, Fram Glacier, Twin Glacier, Alfred Newton Glacier, MacMillan Glacier, Allen Glacier, Green Glacier, and Small Glacier.John Legg (ornithologist)
John Legg (c. 1765 – 1802) was an amateur ornithologist and early researcher into migration. He has been identified by A C Smith (and this view was supported by Alfred Newton) as the true author of A discourse on the emigration of British Birds, a 1780 work which is perhaps the first to accurately and with some detail outline the modern theory of migration. Smith (1894) tells us that there is little known about his life but provides some details. He was born around 1765 and never married. He lived on his estate near Market Lavington on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and wrote. In addition to his more scientific work he also wrote articles for the Lady's Magazine.In a lengthy footnote to one piece in Lady's Magazine, he announced the forthcoming publication of a two-volume Natural History of Birds, based on his original research. The work was never published, and the manuscript is lost.Mauritius night heron
The Mauritius night heron (Nycticorax mauritianus) is an extinct night heron species from Mauritius. It is only known by seven subfossil bone remains consisted of cranium, pelvis, coracoid, ulna, radius, and tarsometatarsus found in Mare aux Songes. Only the coracoid and the tarsometatarsus are left today. It was scientifically discussed in 1893 by Alfred Newton and Hans Gadow from the Cambridge University. Newton and Gadow measured the tarsometatarsus with 81 to 87 mm. It became presumedly extinct in the late 17th century and was probably first mentioned by François Leguat in 1693 who described them as a "great flight of bitterns".René Louiche Desfontaines
René Louiche Desfontaines (14 February 1750 – 16 November 1833) was a French botanist.Desfontaines was born near Tremblay in Brittany. He attended the Collège de Rennes and in 1773 went to Paris to study medicine. His interest in botany originated from lectures at the Jardin des Plantes given by Louis Guillaume Lemonnier. He excelled in his new interest and was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1783. He was also a member of the Académie Nationale de Médecine.
Desfontaines spent two years in Tunisia and Algeria, returning with a large collection of plants. He wrote Flora Atlantica (1798–1799, 2 vols), which included 300 genera new to science.
In addition, he worked also on ornithology, and presented the findings of his expeditions to Africa for one of the Memoires de L'Académie Royale des Sciences. Although the Mémoire corresponds to the year 1787, it was not published until 1789 by L'Imprimerie Royal as part of the Histoire de L'Académie Royale de Sciences. The convulsions of the French Revolution may have made the access to the text so scarce that in 1880 the ornithologist Alfred Newton republished the original text under the title Desfontaines's Mémoire sur quelques nouvelles espèces d'oiseaux des côtes de Barbarie on behalf of the Willughby Society of London.In 1786, he was appointed professor of botany at the Jardin des Plantes, replacing Lemonnier. He later became director of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, was one of the founders of the Institut de France, president of the Academy of Sciences, and elected to the Légion d’honneur. During the French Revolution he was appointed to the Commission Temporaire des Arts where he shaped a new vision of Natural History.Desfontaines established a herbarium, known as the Flora Atlantica, which has 1480 specimens and contains many type specimens for Mediterranean species. It was left to the City of Paris after his death.The genera Desfontainia and Fontanesia are named for this author.The standard author abbreviation Desf. is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.Scott Barchard Wilson
Scott Barchard Wilson (1865–1923) was a British ornithologist and explorer.
Wilson was the son of the chemist George Fergusson Wilson. In 1887, he was sent by his professor Alfred Newton to study and collect birds in Hawaii. On his return he wrote Aves Hawaiienses (1890-1899) with Arthur Humble Evans, illustrated by Frederick William Frohawk.Sir Alfred Newton, 1st Baronet
Sir Alfred James Newton, 1st Baronet (18 November 1845 – 20 June 1921) was a British businessman. He was involved with the stock market flotation of several large privately owned retail stores, including Harrods in 1889 and D H Evans in 1894. He became Lord Mayor of London in 1900 and helped establish the City of London Imperial Volunteers who fought in the Second Boer War in South Africa. Mystery surrounds his death in 1921 from strychnine poisoning.Sydney Newton
Sydney Walter Alfred Newton (born 1875 in Leicester- 1960) was an English photographer. His father, Alfred, ran a photographic business in Belvoir Street and the family lived above the shop. After a fire in an adjacent factory, the Newton family and business relocated to 17 King Street, Leicester.
Alfred Newton and Son was the official photographer to Leicester Museum, recording and documenting many objects and artefacts.
Sydney Newton joined the family firm in the early 1890s. When the work on the Great Central Railway (GCR) began in 1894, Sydney recorded the work in progress. He was not an official photographer for the GCR but created a photographic archive out of his own enthusiasm for the work. He recorded the London Extension of the GCR as the work progressed, capturing every aspect of its creation. Newton also took photographs of the ‘navvies’ working on the construction, as well as the construction itself.
Sydney Newton married at 39 and became a father when he was 45. For many years he lived at Victoria Park Road, Leicester in a house that he named ‘Finmere’ after one of the stations on the London Extension.
Sydney Newton remained in photography for the rest of his life and the business stayed in King Street until around 1950. After he sold the King Street shop he moved to a smaller house at Branting Hill in Groby, Leics. Later moving to live with his son, he died at the age of 85 years, in 1960, at Beverley, East Yorkshire.
The public English Heritage Archive holds 3926 glass negatives taken by Alfred Newton and Son. Two thirds of these photographs relate to the Great Central Railway.William Newton (politician)
William Newton (c. 1783 – 4 November 1862) was an English politician.
He was the son of Samuel (or James) Newton, a well-to-do St Kitts plantation owner from Stowey, Somerset, and was educated at Eton and Pembroke College, Oxford. He settled in Suffolk in 1813 after his father purchased Elveden Hall, near Thetford from the 4th Earl of Albemarle.
He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Ipswich from 1818 to 1820.
He was married 13 December 1811 in Ferry Fryston, Yorkshire. His wife Elizabeth (or Eliza) was the daughter of Richard Slater Milnes, MP for the city of York. William and Eliza had ten children; their fifth son Alfred Newton became a famous ornithologist, their sixth, Edward Newton, a colonial administrator.
On his death in 1862 Elveden Hall was sold to the Maharajah Duleep Singh.