The Reinterment of John Newton 1893

The reinterment of the remains of the Rev John Newton and his wife, Mary Newton, took place at the church of St Peter & St Paul, Olney on the 25th January 1893.  Many newspapers reported on this event, as did the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society in their publication ‘Records of Buckinghamshire’.  BAS has kindly allowed us to reproduce the article. 

Click on each of the pages below to open up the full page and to be able to enlarge the text.

JOHN NEWTON OF OLNEY AND HIS WIFE.
THE REMOVAL AND RE-INTERMENT OF
THEIR REMAINS, 1893.
By JOHN T. MAITLAND, M.A., Oxon.

St Mary Woolnoth c1850 Cowper & Newton Museum collection

Rev John Newton, his wife, Mary, and their adopted daughter and niece, Eliza Cunnigham were all interred in the crypt of St Mary Woolnoth.

Newton had left instructions to his executors for the wording of the memorial which was to be ‘on a plain marble tablet, near the vestry door’.

The crypt of St Mary Woolnoth was closed to interments after the Metropolitan Burial Acts of the 1850s banned most burials within London.

However, by the mid 1880s parishioners were complaining about the ‘bad smells emanating from the vaults of the church’. The building was closed temporarily whilst repairs were undertaken but newspapers report that Inspectors found bodies and coffins in a state of decomposition and decay. In 1891, the Rector Rev JMS Brooke raised the matter again.

‘The fact that there are thousands of bodies within a foot or two of the floor constitutes standing evidence of an insanitary condition.’

Architect Mark Judge investigated further and then the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Sedgwick Saunders, was called in.  On 7th November 1892 he closed the church, and after the faculty was given, coffins and cases of bones were taken to the City of London Cemetery. Some remains, such as those of John & Mary, were reinterred elsewhere.

image (c) Akabashi

The gravestone of George Catlett, the father of Mary Newton, can be seen to the left. 

Rev John Newton original coffin plate image courtesy of St Peter & St Paul
Cowper & Newton collection

Further Reading:

John Newton’s father married again after the death of his first wife and had more children.  Here is the Newton family tree showing the children of the two marriages. 

City of London Cemetery and Crematorium 

Johnson, Malcolm, Crypts of London, The History Press, 2013

Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society

Records of Buckinghamshire

St Mary Woolnoth

Olney Railway Station

Author Credit:

The original article was written by John T Maitland, M.A. Oxon for the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society and published in the 1893 journal – Records of Buckinghamshire 

Additional information by Amanda Molcher, Trustee Cowper & Newton Museum

You might also be interested in...

Cowper’s Pocket Watch – a Musical Movement with Bassoon

William Cowper’s pocket watch, gifted to him by his cousin Theodora, has inspired a  new piece of music for bassoon by composer Lara Poe. Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE) is a project and website which showcases and shares Romantic texts, objects, and places through collaborations between academic researchers, museums,

Read More »
Dear Brother

Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie

Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie Visitors to the museum later this month can enjoy a new display, Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie, based on some letters written by John Newton to his close friend Captain Alexander Clunie. The letters, 22 in total, were found

Read More »

At The Museum

A Peek Inside Orchard Side House

Take a peek inside Orchard Side House as we begin to unveil some of our hidden secrets. Visit the ‘Welcome’ page for a short guide to the other delights we have in store for you during your visit.

Read More »

The Three Hares Art Gallery

The Three Hares Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum building and holds monthly exhibitions, it is now in a bigger, brighter space with state of the art CCTV security and direct stair access from our Shop.  Since 2007 our exhibitions have included artists who work in watercolours, acrylics, oils, pastels, drawings,

Read More »
Summer-house-garden-2016mpn

Flower & Summer House Gardens

Visit our tranquil & historic Gardens. William Cowper was an innovative gardener at a time when seeds & plants were arriving from North America. Find out more here, including a plan of the gardens.

Read More »

Related Articles

To which are added Hymns &c

When the ‘Olney Hymns’ hymnal was published in 1779, Rev’d John Newton noted in the Preface that some of the hymns had previously appeared in other publications. Copies of a few of these Hymns have already appeared in periodical publications, and in some recent collections. I have observed one or two of them attributed to

Read More »

Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie

Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie Visitors to the museum later this month can enjoy a new display, Dear Brother: John Newton’s Letters to Alexander Clunie, based on some letters written by John Newton to his close friend Captain Alexander Clunie. The letters, 22 in total, were found in 2018 in the archive

Read More »
Category filter
Item added to cart.
0 items - £0.00

Book Museum Tickets

Our Museum building remains CLOSED.  We are opening our gardens on limited entry.  The Cowper & Newton Museum gardens will be open to welcome you on Wednesday 5th August 10.30 – 12.15 and Saturday 8th August 10.30 – 12.15

(Follow our social media accounts or check back here for further opening days & times as they become available)