Francis William Newman

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Francis William Newman
File:Francis William Newman by J. Banks.jpg
Born (1805-06-27)27 June 1805
London, England
Died 4 October 1897(1897-10-04) (aged 92)
Weston-Super-Mare, England
Occupation Scholar, philosopher, writer, activist
Spouse(s) Maria Kennaway (m. 1835; d. 1876)
Eleanor Williams (m. 1878)
Family John Henry Newman (brother)

Francis William Newman (27 June 1805 – 4 October 1897) was an English classical scholar and moral philosopher, miscellaneous writer and vegetarianism activist. He was the younger brother of Cardinal Newman.


Born in London, Newman and his brother were both educated at Ealing, and subsequently at Oxford, where he had a distinguished career, obtaining a double first class in 1826.[1] He was elected fellow of Balliol in the same year.[1] In 1827 he went to Delgany, co. Wicklow, where for a year he tutored the sons of Edward Pennefather and fell under the influence of Pennefather's brother-in-law, the Rev John Nelson Darby, one of the nascent group of Plymouth Brethren, who he describes in Phases of Faith as "the Irish Clergyman".[2] Conscientious scruples respecting the ceremony of infant baptism led him to resign his fellowship in 1830,[3] and he went to Baghdad as assistant in the faith mission of Anthony Norris Groves. This journey, which included wives, a baby in arms, and an elderly woman, has been described as "a mad jaunt whose real tragedy — two of the wives died and the men of the party were many times near death — is blurred by silly incompetence and downright nonsense of most of its members."[4] 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.

Newman's views matured rapidly, and in 1840 he became Classics Professor at Manchester New College, the dissenters' college lately returned from York, parent of Manchester College, Oxford, and at the time linked to London University. In 1846 he moved to become a professor of Latin at 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 described himself as "anti-everything".[5] "The perfection of the soul, he said, lay in its becoming woman. He believed in woman's right to vote, to educate herself and to ride astride". He sought to make life rational in all things, including clothing. He wore an alpaca tailcoat in summer, three coats in winter (the outer one green), and in bad weather, he wore a rug with a hole cut for his head. When it was muddy, he wore trousers edged with six inches of leather.[5]

Newman was married twice, first to Maria Kennaway on 23 December 1835[6] (she died in 1876) and then to Eleanor Williams on 3 December 1878.[7]

Newman's name on the lower section of the Reformers memorial, Kensal Green Cemetery

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 his numerous metrical translations from the classics, especially his version of the Iliad, he attracted the irreverent criticism of Matthew Arnold. 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.

His character is vividly drawn by Carlyle in his life of John 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. George Eliot called "our blessed St. Francis" and his soul, "was a blessed year".[4]


After his retirement from University College, Francis W. 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. Although for most of his life, he preached a kind of rational-mystical agnosticism,[4] in his old age, he returned to the Church of England.


Newman joined the Vegetarian Society in 1868.[8] Newman was President of the Society from 1873–1883.[9] He was opposed to the dogmatic ideas of raw foodism and objected to the disuse of flavourings and salt.[8] He commented that "the number of dogmatic prohibitions against everything that makes food palatable will soon ruin our society if not firmly resisted."[8] In 1877, Newman criticized a raw food book of Gustav Schlickeysen.[8]

He made an associate membership possible for people who were not completely vegetarian, such as those who ate chicken or fish.[8] Between 1875–1896 membership for the Vegetarian Society was 2,159 and associate membership 1,785.[8]

Newman did not like the term "vegetarian" because it implied someone who ate only vegetables. Instead, he preferred the Greek term "anti-creophagite" or "anti-creophagist" (anti-flesh eater). This idea was not supported by other members of the Society, as few people knew what the term meant.[10] He used the phrase "V E M" diet (vegetables, eggs, milk).[11] Newman consumed dairy and eggs. In 1884, a hostile review of his book Essays on Diet commented that he "is no vegetarian himself in the strict acceptation of the word, for he takes milk, eggs, butter, and cheese."[12] Newman believed that abstinence from meat, fish and fowl should be the only thing the Vegetarian Society advocates. Some members believed that Newman was not strict enough.[8] However, under Newman's Presidency the Society flourished as income, associates and membership numbers increased.[13]

Newman was an anti-vaccinationist and supported the Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League. In 1869, an article in The Lancet journal criticized Newman for holding this opinion and tried to convince him to withdraw his support for the Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League.[14] Journalist Wilfrid Meynell commented that Newman was as a "deist, vegetarian, anti-vaccinationist, to whom a monastery is even as a madhouse."[15] Literary critic Lionel Trilling described Newman as a "militant vegetarian, an intransigent anti-vivisectionist, an enthusiastic anti-vaccinationist."[16]

In the 1890s, Newman converted to a pescetarian diet as he consumed white fish.[17]


Newman is listed on the south face of the Reformers Memorial in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Karl Marx quoted from Newman's "Lectures on Political Economy", given at Bedford College, in Capital, Volume III, p. 595.

Selected publications

Translations into Latin:

  • Hiawatha. London: Walton and Maberly. 1862.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rebilius Cruso [Robinson Crusoe]. London: Trübner & co. 1864.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Translations of English Poetry into Latin Verse. London: Trübner & co. 1868.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. 1.0 1.1  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Newman, Francis William" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 516–517.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Stunt, Timothy C. F. "Newman, Francis William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 11 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ker, Ian (1988). John Henry Newman: A Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-19-282705-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lionel Trilling, "Matthew Arnold", W.W. Norton Company, 1939, p. 169
  5. 5.0 5.1 I.G. Sieveking, "Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman", London, 1909, p.26
  6. Schellenberg, Ann Margaret (1994). Prize the Doubt: The Life and Work of Francis William Newman (PDF) (Thesis). Durham University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Stunt, Timothy C. F. (23 September 2004). "Newman, Francis William (1805–1897), classical scholar and moral philosopher". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/20019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Spencer, Colin. (1995). The Heretic's Feast: A History of Vegetarianism. University Press of New England. pp. 274–276. ISBN 0-87451-708-7
  9. Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. (2010). Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. ABC-CLIO. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-313-37556-9
  10. Sieveking, I. Giberne. (1909). Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner. p. 118
  11. Newman, Francis William. (1883). Essays On Diet. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co. p. 24
  12. "A Vegetarian Diet. Essays on Diet by Francis William Newman". Health: A Weekly Journal of Sanitary Science. 3: 90. 1884.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Yeh, Hsin-Yi. (2013). "Boundaries, Entities, and Modern Vegetarianism: Examining the Emergence of the First Vegetarian Organization". Qualitative Inquiry. 19: 298–309. doi:10.1177/1077800412471516. S2CID 143788478.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Anonymous. (1869). F. W. Newman as an Anti-Vaccinator. The Lancet 2: 346.
  15. Meynell, Wilfrid. (1890). Cardinal Newman: A Monograph. London: John Sinkins. p. 5
  16. Trilling, Lionel. (1939). Matthew Arnold. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 170
  17. May Vegetarians Eat Fish?. Dundee Evening Telegraph (11 September 1895).


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Newman, Francis William" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 516–517.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links