William Newport - Royal Marine (1805-1865)


William Newport, the older brother of my great-great grandfather, John Newport, was baptised on 26th.May, 1805, in the Kent village of Kingston, Nr. Canterbury. To-day the village is still very small and imagine hasn't changed much since William's day. I'm probably wrong, today, but that's what I thought when I went there about twenty years ago.

John and Anne, his parents, had been married in the church of St. Giles's at Kingston on the 23rd. February of the same year (just in time!) and the two register entries read:

"1805 February 23rd. Marriage of John Newport to Anne Paye"

"1805 May 26th. William, the son of John and Ann Newport".

Though both events took place in the parish church at Kingston, it's probable that they didn't actually live in Kingston but in an outlying district, such as Derringstone, which, being a hamlet, didn't have a church of its own.

Why I mention Derringstone is that, later, in 1846, William's grandmother, Susannah, according to her death certificate, died there, which would indicate that she was living somewhere in the area, but had to be buried in Kingston churchyard, as the Church Registers show.

What is interesting is, in the 1851 Ordnance Survey map Derringstone comprised only about a dozen buildings and she must have lived in one of these there, either alone or with relatives, but tantalizingly I have no idea as to which. I don't think that she would have been working as, perhaps, a servant, as she would have been 87 years of age. There is, in fact, a distinct possibility that she was living with William and his parents.

However, as will later be seen, it's more likely that William was born in Westwood, near Kingston but, whatever, it's best to move on.

I have no idea what happened to William between his baptism and the time he joins the marines, in 1824. He must have moved around the area with his parents, going wherever work led them. The first place would seem to be Nonington, where my great-great-grandfather, John Newport. was born in 1809, and later to Littlebourne, and finally Patrixbourne.

In 1824, William joined the Royal Marines. On 30th. December 1985 I visited the Public Records Office at Kew and took down the following particulars from his Attestation Form (see Section 8 which contains a photocopy of this form):-

By Whom Enlisted Head Quarters Company 33 Name William Newport Age 19 Size 5ft.7{ ins. Hair Light Eyes Grey Complexion Fair Parish Westwood near Woolwich County Kent Where Enlisted Trade Labourer Date of Attestation 11th. June 1824

The Attestation ends with the handwritten note :-

VI have examined William Newport and find him free from Rupture, Tiks, Diseased Legs, or the Marks of old Sores, Fistula, Scrophula in Glands, Bones, or Joints, Fractured Skull, defective sight or hearing and in all other respects free from Mental or Bodily defects.V

John Richardson, Surgeon

There is a very interesting note in pencil at the bottom of the form which says "Scar on right knee ????". I am unable to make out what the last word says.

The scar must have been of some size to be noticeable. Was it the result of him falling out of a tree as a young child or something similar, or perhaps a farming accident as a young man? One day we may find the answer.

I have reproduced here William's signature as it appears on the form. It's strange to think that this was written by a relative of mine back in 1824 when he was only 19 years old.

Also on the form William gives his parish of birth as 'Westwood, near Woolwich'. At the time that I found the attestation form I knew that our William was, in fact, baptized at the church in Kingston, Kent, so this puzzled me for some time. This gentleman none-the-less, I was sure, was our William as the co-incidences were too great to be otherwise. After all, two William Newports joining the Royal Marines the same year, and at the same age, and then later retiring as a Greenwich Pensioner during the same period was I felt far too unlikely, and I decided that I would accept that the two Williams were one and the same while I carried on searching for some final proof.

There were several choices that I had, but two seemed the most likely. I knew, for example, that at the time when our William joined the marines anyone wishing to run away to sea could find, near the enlistment offices, someone who, for a fee, would provide false documents to satisfy the Naval authorities; documents such as baptism records. Secondly, it was always possible that William was telling the truth and had been born in Westwood, later being baptized in Kingston. The second seemed so unlikely, considering where Westwood near Woolwich was, that I mentally accepted as fact the former of the two ideas. At least it would do until some other idea came along.

Well, out of the blue as they say, one day, something did come along. It was at least two years later and was something that I should have thought of before. Something so obvious that I could kick myself for not having had the idea before.

Late one evening I was looking through some of the books and magazines which Maureen and I had collected but which we had only skimmed through, not really having the time to read anything in any depth, when I came across one entitled 'An Anthology of Kingston and Bishopsbourne'. Idly, I began to flick through the pages, luckily going fairly slowly, glancing at the various headlines which appeared in front of me.

Suddenly, I came to a stop as I read 'A Vivid Recollection Of The Great Storm At Westwood, Kingston'. It related the effects on Westwood Farm, near Kingston, in 1926. But I knew, and I still am absolutely sure that I had finally found THE Westwood. A look at the Ordnance Survey Map for Kent showed me what I should have seen before - Westwood was a small area close to Kingston. It was too small to be even a village, and as it had no church, why anyone being born there would have to be baptized somewhere else close by - Kingston, for instance!

But why did William say Westwood near WOOLWICH? Well, did he, in fact? Though he signed the form, it looks as though someone else filled it in for him. Perhaps, when William said 'Westwood', that someone didn't know of the one near Kingston, but, having strong connections with the navy, may certainly have known of the one near Woolwich? Or was it just a mis-understanding?

Later on, in the 1851 census, William says that he was born in Kingston. He doesn't mention Westwood at all. Why? To be frank, I don't know. But at least he doesn't say Woolwich!


William joined his first ship, H.M.S. 'Gloucester' , on the 28th. April 1826, disembarking several months later on the 3rd.August.

Because of their military rather than naval origins the ranks used by the Royal Marines were, and are, the same as those used in the army - and William was a "private".

In his log, for that day in April, the Captain recorded that at :-

"28th. a.m. Fresh gales and squally to moderate breezes and squally. Employed stowing holds and as requisite. 8.40 (a.m.) Received 82 private marines, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, 2 drummers,....".

So, William Newport was now on board!


On 14th. October, 1826 William joined his new ship HMS 'ASIA', still with the rank of private, and not disembarking until 30th.June 1828. He could little imagine what action he would see, just a little over a year later.

On a visit to the Royal Navy Museum, Portsmouth, on 25th. August 1986, I came across, and photographed, the figurehead of this ship. I must admit it was a strange feeling to realise that I was seeing what William must have seen each time he boarded this ship, over 150 years ago.

For those who like statistics, the ship weighed 2289 tons, was classed "2nd.rate", built in Bombay, and remained in service until 1908. Because oak was becoming scarcer in England, the navy had been looking for some time for other materials that might be used for ship building and found Indian Teak.

This teak was found to be a very good substitute and so the East India Dockyard was given the go-ahead, in the early 1820's, to begin building the ship. The plans were in fact originally drawn, in January 1820 at the Navy Office, with the intention of building two ships; the other was to be named the 'Bombay'. As a matter of interest I don't know whether or not the second ship was ever built.

On 20th October, 1827 William while on board the 'ASIA', saw action in no uncertain way, at the 'Battle of Navarino', in the war for Greek Independence. This sea battle was the last to be fought entirely under sail as future ones would see ships with both sail and steam.

William was to subsequently receive a 'Navarino' clasp to his medal for taking part in the battle.

Because of the importance of the Battle of Navarino, I have produced a complete section on it (See later).


On 23rd September, 1829, William officially joined the ship H.M.S.VDONEGALV still as a private, and the Captain's Log reads:-

Hour Course Winds Remarks etc., Tuesday 22nd.Sept. 1829

1 NW NW A.M. Moderate and hazy. 4 at 4 ditto weather 8 (at 8 Moderate and fine, Employed Variously, (Received 26 pounds of Beef and Vegetables.) 12 WNW WNW Noon ditto weather. Bearings and Distance at Noon Basin Sheerness Dockyard 1 WNW P.M. Light winds and fine. 4 (at 4 ditto weather. Received a party of Marines from Chatham consisting of Captain Crowther, 2nd. Lieut. Miller, 2 Sergeants, 2 Corporals, 1 Drummer, and 36 Privates.) 8 at 8 ditto weather 12 at 12 moderate and fine weather.

Again, William was one of those marines, disembarking three and half years later, on 28th March 1833.

On the 3rd. April, 1835, he was again promoted, this time to Corporal and joined the 77th. Company.


William joined the H. M. S. "Cambridge" on 12th February, 1840 and appears on the muster roll under "Marines 1st.Class". His entry reads:-

No.1 Entry 12th.February Year 1840 Appearance February 12th. Whence, etc. Chatham Headquarters Parish, etc. Westwood, Kent Age 34 Division & Co. Chatham Headquarters - No.Co.77 Name William Newport Qualities Corporal 1st.Class

This time it says, "Westwood, Kent"!

In 1840, war, again, brought the Marines into action; this time against the Egyptians and on the side of the Turks with the battleground being Syria. There were many skirmishes with the enemy but the main battles took place in September of this year and it may be as a result of his efforts in one of these that on 15th.October William was promoted to Sergeant, a rank he held for the rest of his time in the service.

In 1843, on 26th January, William disembarked from the "Cambridge" for the last time.

In the "Greenwich Pension Examination" of 5th. October 1845, William was granted a pension of £21 per annum for life, at the age of 40 - not a bad sum of money at that time.

The reason William was pensioned off was given as "Length of Service". I believe that the Services were laying off men as the country entered a time of relative peace and the cost of maintaining Servicemen had to be reduced. A look at his service record next will show that the pension was not due to any disability. In fact,it seems that William was discharged while in good health having survived some quite hectic action without suffering any long term serious or crippling injuries. Imagine the amount and size of splinters flying through the air as a cannonball hits the woodwork - then imagine the scene when a much greater number of cannonballs hit - the splinters must have filled the air like morning mist! If you care to go back to the previous "Contents" page, and select "The Battle of Navarino", in that section you can read an extract from a book entitled "Letters of Admiral of the Fleet", which was written by Sir Henry Codrington, who was on board H.M.S. "Asia", as a young midshipman, during the battle. He describes what these "splinters" could do! As a matter of interest, Sir Henry was also the son of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington who was the Admiral on the Flagship that same day.

1845 On 17th. October William left the Royal Marines and his Discharge Record gives the following information.

Current No 10823
Company 37
Men's Names William Newport
Quality Sergeant (5 yr 0 mth 3 dys
Corporal (5 yr 6 mth 12 dys
Private (10 yr 9 mth 23 dys)
Age 40 yr 4 mth
Size 5 ft 7 1/2 in
Service 21 yr 4 mth 7 dys
Reason for) Length of Service (8 yr 5 mth 15 dys)
Discharge) (Sea and Foreign Service)
Date of Discharge 17th October 1845
In Whose Presence Col. Wright, K.H.
Conduct "Very Good"

The only comment I can make is that he seems to have gained a quarter of an inch in height since his enlistment!

On the Medal Roll, of 1849, William's name appears with the following comment.


Name of Claimant Ship or Ships in which he served in the several actions - Newport William - Marine ASIA

1851The Census for this year gives the following information

Piece No. HO 107 1623 - Folio 177v. Address:- 19, Cold Harbour Farm House, Patrixbourne

Name Rel. Stat. Age Occupation Where born
William Newport Head Un 45 Gardener Labourer (Pensioner Late Mariner) Kingstone, Kent
Charles Newport Brother Un 28 Farm Labourer Patrixbourne, Kent
Maria Newport Sister Un 32 Laundress Littlebourne, Kent

1861 From this year's Census

(Piece No. RG 9/518 - Folio 7.):- Address:- 23, Park Cottage, Patrixbourne

Name Rel. Stat. Age Occupation Where born
William Newport Head Un 55 Gardener & Greenwich Pensioner Kingstone, Kent
Charles Newport Brother Un 39 Ag. Labourer Patrixbourne, Kent
Maria Newport Sister Un 42 Littlebourne, Kent

On 21st August 1865, William died, in Patrixbourne, of, according to the Death Certificate, a "disease of the heart". His occupation was given as "Pensioner of the Royal Marine" and the informant was his sister Maria.

The information given on William′s Death Certificate is as follows:-

Registration District - Bridge
Sub-district - Barham
When & Where died August 21st. 1865 - Patrixbourne
Name & Surname - William Newport
Sex - Male
Age - 60 years
Occupation - Pensioner of the Royal Marines
Cause of Death - Disease of the Heart - Certified
Signature, description and ) - 'X' - The mark of Maria Newport, present at the death - Certified
residence of informant )
When registered - 21st. August 1865

Maria Newport was William's sister, born on the 19th. March 1819 and baptized on the 31st. of the same month. Her place of birth was the parish of Littlebourne and the church where she was baptized was the non-conformist Independent Church in Guildhall Street, Canterbury.

She never married, but in later life lived with her brothers, Charles and William (after he retired from the Marines), at Park Cottage in the village of Patrixbourne, and it was, presumably, in this cottage that he died.

A few day′s later, on August 25th, 1865. William was buried in Patrixbourne. There are few headstones of any description now surviving in the churchyard, and those that do exist are, virtually, unreadable. If William had such a stone I have been unable to find it; but it appears that he is buried there, as are his parents, John and Anne.

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