Humphrey Newton (1466-1536): an early Tudor Gentleman

July 2008
8 black and white, 3 line illustrations
278 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843833956
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Humphrey Newton (1466-1536): an early Tudor Gentleman

Deborah Youngs

Biography of Humphrey Newton offers a unique view of gentry life at the time.
The public and political lives of the fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century gentry have been extensively studied, but comparatively little is known of their private lives and beliefs. Humphrey Newton of Pownall, Cheshire, offers a rare and fascinating opportunity to redress the balance, thanks to the fortunate survival of a commonplace book he compiled c.1498-1524. Drawing upon this unique manuscript, this interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional study of Newton explores his family life, landed estate, legal work, piety, and his literary skills [he composed nearly twenty courtly love lyrics]. It charts his social advancement and the self-fashioning of his gentle image, while placing him in the context of current discussions of gentry culture.

What makes Newton even more noteworthy is that he was among the unsung and little known stratum of English society historians have labelled the 'lesser' gentry. As such, this book provides the first comprehensive biography of an early Tudor gentleman.

Dr DEBORAH YOUNGS is lecturer in medieval history at Swansea University.

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Table of Contents

The Newton Family
Humphrey and the Law
Land and Lordship
Humphrey: the Man and his World


[A] significant contribution to gentry studies. [...] The point of Youngs's book is to contribute to the all too small pool of insights into the people and personalities at the heart of local society in early Tudor England, something she achieves with aplomb. EUROPEAN REVIEW OF HISTORY

A lively and sympathetic assessment of [Newton's] life and his way of living it. [...] A highly readable and enjoyable volume: less a biography than a reconstruction of a Tudor life lived well away from the turmoil of the royal court. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL
[Gives] a wonderful impression of the man and his affairs. [...] This is an important study for all historians of early Tudor social history. AGRICULTURAL HISTORY REVIEW
Such a book could only be written by a scholar with an impressive range of interdisciplinary skills. [It] contributes to two rather neglected areas of late medieval studies: the literary culture of early Tudor England and the literature of the minor gentry. [...] A careful, compelling, and well researched discussion of Newton's life - accentuating in careful detail both its socio-economic and cultural aspects. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
Essential reading for any local historian working on the late medieval period. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN
In her detailed and multi-dimensional study, Deborah Youngs succeeds in locating Humphrey Newton in both his local environment and broader social and cultural context, providing the reader with an insight into the mind of 'an ordinary gentleman'. THE RICARDIAN
A fascinating history of one individual: his background, means of making a living, religious beliefs and cultural life. [.] Thoroughly researched, well written and clearly presented [.] Young's research has created something of great importance: a vivid recreation of what it was like to live in a particular area. TRANSACTIONS OF THE HISTORIC SOCIETY OF LANCASHIRE & CHESHIRE