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James William               (1863-1927)

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Lewis Albert

James William Jnr            (1886-1971)

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Donald James

(1888 -1964)


Derek Albert
 (1924 - 2023)

The Newby ancestry goes back to family members living in Suffolk from the middle of the 18th Century. James William Newby was a descendent of John and Martha who were born in Uggeshall in 1749 and 1756. Records are available of other Newby family members residing and being buried in different parts of the County. Most of those born in the 18th and 19th Centuries were shopkeepers trading mainly in ironmongery and hardware and others were artisans becoming carpenters, shoemakers and watch and clock makers and repairers. James William junior was born in Halesworth in 1886. He was the first of ten children and was given his father's Christian names. His brothers and sisters were Philip, Sylvester, Lewis, Elsie, Dorothy, Montague, Harry, Marsden and William. James married Minnie May Revell from Huntingfield where her family were mainly engaged in agriculture. James was recruited to the Army Service Corps and served for three years in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and in the Middle East. He trained as a printer's compositor and he and Philip, who became a postman, were the only members of the family to live permanently in Halesworth after WW1.

James combined his work as a printer's compositor with being a correspondent for the weekly Halesworth Times, the Eastern Daily Press and the East Anglian Daily Times newspapers. He was an avid reader with a remarkable memory and became a much sought after eloquent speaker, preacher and entertainer. He was a prolific recorder of the local scene and activities in the town and much of this has been published. At the time of his death he was the senior Deacon of Halesworth Congregational Church where he was a member for 63 years. He became a lay preacher in 1912 and preached in nearly every Congregational Church in Suffolk and in many Methodist Churches in the district. He had also preached in Churches in London, Essex and Somerset.


In 1936 he completed his first book “Independency in Halesworth and District” which celebrated the opening and first anniversary of Halesworth Congregational Church in Quay Street which is now re-named the United Reformed Church. The opening chapter of this book contains some gruesome details of the sacrifices made by local people who refused to worship God in accordance with the demands of ruling monarchs – Roman Catholics and Protestants - who differed in their beliefs, and thousands of dissenters were put to death, this difference being their only crime. Also included is his history of Walpole Old Chapel where he first preached in 1920 and where he was secretary of the Trustees for several years. From his research he claims that this Chapel is the oldest Free Church Place of Worship in East Anglia.

In 1942 he was asked to write The Story of Headgate Congregational Church, Colchester and in 1964 his family published his third book, “THE PATRICK STEAD HOSPITAL - With notes on the Blythburgh and District Hospital and some Memories of Halesworth”. This entailed much diligence and perseverance at a time when information was not so readily available as it is today and the book is claimed to be the first authentic history of Patrick Stead and his benevolence.

James was a member of Halesworth Urban District Council during WW2 and was in charge of the Halesworth branch of the County Library for several years. He had been a local footballer, later becoming a referee, he had a long association with Halesworth Town Football Club serving as secretary, chairman of the charity cup competitions and at one time secretary of Halesworth and District Football League. He supported and helped all good causes and died in the Patrick Stead hospital on 25-11-1971 and is buried in Halesworth cemetery. He left his widow, two sons, two daughters and seven grand children.

Philip Newby was born in Halesworth in 1888 and after leaving school he worked as a shoemaker at the local boot and shoe factory. In 1914, along with several of his workmates, he enlisted with the town's Territorial Force with whom he marched off to war in August. After further training and carrying out defensive works in the Felixtowe area, the 4th Suffolk's embarked at Southampton bound for France on the 7th November 1914. On their arrival at the front they entered the firing line suffering their first fatal casualty on the 16th December when Private Robert Larter from Holton was Killed in Action. After a quiet Christmas period away from the front, the Battalion experienced their first real “Baptism of Fire”on the 11th March 1915 in the area of Neuve Chappelle. The attack on the German line began at noon with the 4th Suffolk's making little ground against strong resistance, this caused the Battalion to occupy an old trench system short of the enemy's front line, later in the evening they were withdrawn. At dawn of the following morning, the Brigade resumed the advance with the 4th Suffolk's in the vanguard, on this occasion the attack was successfully driven home with the Battalion victorious. It was reported that the battle was the first occasion that British forces had driven the Germans from well established positions in a trench-to-trench attack. This victory was considered so significant that the Suffolk Regiment was awarded the Battle Honour “Neuve Chappelle”, with the Territorials at last able to prove their worth in battle. This success, however, was bittersweet as it had cost the 4th Battalion dear suffering a total of 217 casualties including Philip who had received a gunshot wound to the chest. On being recovered from the battlefield he was finally admitted to No.11 General Hospital on the 15th March, prior to being transferred back to England via the Hospital Ship “St Patrick” on the 6th April 1915.

Due to his wounds he did not return to the front line but was promoted to sergeant and attended the School of Instruction at Chelsea Barracks in London. At the wars end he was on the staff of 'G' Machine Gun Corps Training Battalion. On the 16th February 1919 Philip was presented with the 1914 Star medal trio and received his discharge from the service and returned to live in Halesworth and was one of the first postmen to be sent on country rounds by motorcycle and sidecar. He was a member of the Halesworth branch of the British Legion (given the “Royal” appellation in 1971) and joined its band as a trumpeter and played the Last Post at the annual Church Parade and Procession held on Armistice Sundays in Halesworth for many years. He married Miss Edith Cady from Chediston and they had two daughters. He died in 1964 leaving his widow, one daughter and two grandchildren.

Lewis Albert Newby  was born in Halesworth in 1893. After leaving school he found work as a groom, working and lodging in Holton. He enlisted into the army in September 1914 and after training at Felixstowe he crossed to France on the 26th January 1915 joining the 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment possibly as a casualty replacement. At some time during the next 18 months he was transferred to the 7th (Service) Bn, this was one of Lord Kitchener's new army battalions that had been formed at Bury St Edmunds in August 1914. They had arrived in France during May 1915 and it is possible that Albert and some others from the 2nd Suffolk's, who now would have been considered to be veterans, were posted into the 7th Suffolk's to spread their experience. The 1st July 1916 remains in the annals of British military history, the most costly in terms of men's lives lost, it also marked the start of the Battle of the Somme that would continue into mid November. The 7th Suffolk's entry into the battle came on 3rd July when as part of the 12th (Eastern) Division they led the attack on Ovillers. After some initial success in which they cleared both the first and second line of German trenches the advance ground to a halt due to their severe losses, particularly in Officers with all the Company Commanders killed, the battalion was then forced to retire. The 7th Suffolk's casualties for the day amounted to over 450 men lost. Lewis, who had been a member of the of the Machine Gun Section 'C' company having been captured, was then transported and interned in the P.O.W. Camp at Sennelager, near the city of Ponderborn, Westphalia. The photograph of Albert had been sent to his sister-in-law 'Cis' (Mrs Philip Newby) from the camp on 5th May 1918 shows him wearing British Service Dress that has been dyed blue by the Germans, although he continued to proudly polish his brass buttons and Suffolk shoulder title. He tragically died of influenza on the 12th November 1918, just one day after the end of hostilities. He was buried by the Germans and now lies at peace in the Niederzwehren British Military Cemetery, Germany. (Alan and Sue Clapson prepared an exhibition of Halesworth and district soldiers and others serving in WW1 many of whom were mentioned in a special feature at Halesworth & District Museum.)

Donald James Newby was born in Halesworth the first of James and Minnies four children. His father was serving in the army in Mesopotamia at the time and he didn't see his infant son until he was three years old. Donald was educated at the Sir John Leman School in Beccles where he matriculated. He chose a career in journalism and was working in Cambridge when WW2 broke out. After enlisting in the RAF it was discovered that he was physically unfit for aircrew, so he served as a Sergeant working on codes and ciphers in Iceland and on the South coast of England. He took a keen interest in politics and was released from his duties in the RAF to work as an agent during the 1945 General Election for the Liberal MP for Eye, Edgar Granville, then returned to his unit. After he was demobilised, he became a sub-editor on Provincial and National newspapers in Middlesbrough, Manchester and London and, when living in Orpington, he revived the Liberal Association, resulting in Eric Lubbock being elected to Parliament. He fought the 1964 and 1966 General Elections as Liberal Candidate for the Eye constituency in Suffolk.



When it was published that East Suffolk County Council had decided to support the closure of the East Suffolk Railway line from Ipswich to Lowestoft as recommended in the *Beeching report, Donald wrote to the East Anglian Daily Times on July 16 1963 and this was published under the headlines: “RETAINING THE RAILWAY - Council's Action is Anti-Democratic”. To the Editor Sir, It is to be hoped that members of the East Suffolk County Council knew what they were

doing on July 9th in letting its officers of committees off the hook after their anti-democratic action in indicating to the Councils Association that the Council was quite prepared to support the closure of the East Suffolk railway line.

The enormity of this offence should be placed in its correct perspective before judging the County Council's latest action in allowing its planning committee to present a report “in detail” as to whether or not to fight for the line. A handful have already done irreparable damage to the case for keeping it. The Chairman and Vice-chairmen of the County Council Committees issued their statement to the County Councils Association three days after a meeting of 13 local authorities convened by Lowestoft Town Council, had described the Beeching report as “disastrous.”

County Council representatives attended that meeting; they were fully aware of the views of 15 councils. They knew that council after council in this county-borough, urban, rural, parish – had passed resolutions opposing the closure. They knew that the County Council in full session had supported the “save the railway” resolution passed by all-party protest meeting I promoted at Halesworth last year. They knew that the Conservative M.P. for the Lowestoft Division abstained in the debate on the Beeching Report and that Liberal and Labour Associations and many individual Conservatives were campaigning to save the line. It is as clear blue as the Mediterranean that the Chairman and Vice-chairmen reached a political decision - “our Tory Government, right or wrong” in opposition to the wishes of a large majority of the people of all political parties. It is this sort of arrogance, this sort of betrayal of democratic processes, that is dragging the good name of this country into the mire at the present time. Lord Cranbrook, chairman of the County Education Committee has claimed that it would be a lie to pretend that the closure of the East Suffolk line would be disturbing and disastrous to East Suffolk. These are strong words and Lord Cranbrook is

twisting facts by making such a claim. He fails to to use facts to envisage the future. If the line goes the small towns of East Suffolk will have no chance of development at all, our villages will become further depopulated and we shall have to wait years for the necessary substitute roads.

Suffolk is not what it was, nor will it stay as it is unless constructive steps are taken to keep our facilities and permit some economic strengthening of our small towns. Donald Newby, Prospective Liberal Parliamentary Candidate Eye Division, Holton House, Holton, Halesworth.

This letter started what was to become a concerted campaign which included the running of a “Protest Bus” (suggested and organised by him and paid for by his Liberal supporters) to prove that the published times for the journey from Lowestoft to Ipswich were impossible to keep, and this and his speech at the tribunal held in Saxmundham eventually resulted in the railway line from Ipswich to Lowestoft remaining open.

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 Dr Beeching showing a copy of his pamphlet

A section of the crowded hall

Donald Newby making the case for keeping the line open

* Dr Richard Beeching was a road constructing contractor and he was appointed Chairman of a newly formed “British Railways Board” by the Transport Minister in Harold Macmillan's government in 1961. His brief was to overhaul the state-owned rail network which he pruned by closing 5,500 miles of track, putting 67,000 people out of work and closing 2363 railway stations.


Encouraged by Benjamin Britten and other notable personalities living in the area Donald became founder Chairman of East Suffolk Travellers Association which is still flourishing today under its revised title of East Suffolk Travel Association.


Donald served on Halesworth Urban District Council and became County Councillor for Halesworth. At the same time he was pursuing his career in journalism by publishing guide booklets and other periodicals relating to East Anglia. He also acquired “World Bowls” a national monthly magazine and from this he became bowls correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He and two others also started the staging of annual antique fairs in Snape Maltings concert hall and in Norwich and Bury St. Edmunds.



He became Chairman of Halesworth Town Council in 1970 and at this time Norfolk County Council presented a plan to annex a large part of North Suffolk, including Lowestoft, Southwold, and a good many villages to its county boundary and Donald co-fronted another successful campaign which prevented this from happening.


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It was not long after this that it was published that due to proposed boundary changes within the County, Halesworth was to lose its autonomy and be absorbed, together with its housing stock and other assets into Waveney District Council, so with the co-operation of the Town Clerk Mr Bryan Basford, Lady Rugby, and fellow councillors he urged that the outline proposal plan for Halesworth, which had been prepared by the County Planning Department included a Town Park, be adopted and local architects Michael & Sheila Gooch were commissioned to provide a detailed plan. The result was the beginning of how the park was developed into what it is today and others were quick to appreciate his foresight and determination. Some members suggested that the Park be named after him but this did not materialise, but the input of the of the family was suitably recognised with the naming of Newby Close off Roman Way. 

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He was a pioneer of free local newspapers using his professional skills to produce the first issues of Halesworth's Community News of which he was the first publisher. He died in the Patrick Stead hospital on 21st January 1999. After his obituary was published the following letter appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times under the headline “Newby's example is worth remembering“ and this is typical of several others that were published around that time.


Sir, Many Suffolk people will have been saddened by the news of Donald Newby's death (EADT, January 26). Having been brought up in the north-east of Suffolk, he, more than most, understood the historical and continuing threat to the territorial integrity of Suffolk by the predatory instincts from our malevolent neighbour from across the Waveney. It is entirely probable that without his personal effort during the early seventies, the entire north-eastern corner of Suffolk would have been transferred to Norfolk under the review then taking place. This vast tract would have shared the fate of South Town, Gorleston and parts of Thetford. These earlier and the 1974 betrayals epitomise the attitude of our MPs and administrators who have consistently deferred to the demands of Norfolk and Norwich. The pity is that Suffolk tends to produce more apologists than patriots, and although Donald Newby was not entirely successful in his efforts, he achieved much more than anyone else during the past 50 years to defend this county against the rapacious appetite of an insatiable neighbour. His example must not be forgotten. JOHN BORRETT, Haylings Grove, Leiston.


Other commentators suggested that he achieved more as a very active prospective parliamentary candidate than he would have done as Member of Parliament, a phrase used for other aspirants, and one certainly applicable in this case.


He completed his autobiography entitled “The Century I Saw”, recording his successes and failures, a few weeks before his death in the Patrick Stead Hospital. He left his widow Jean, son Simon (Christened in Walpole Old Chapel on Boxing Day 1949) and daughters Sally and Amanda.

Nancy May Newby born in Halesworth 19-11-1920 married Pilot Officer Edward George Halls in 1941. Died 29-12-2015. She left three sons, Glyn, Nigel and Lionel.


I was born in Halesworth on 08-11-1924 the second son and third child of of James and Minnie. I volunteered and joined the RAF in 1942 and was sent by sea to India in 1943 on a three years overseas tour, which included 6 months in Sumatra. I returned to the UK in 1946 and was demobilised in 1947 and worked in the administrative departments of local building contractors. During this time I was one of North Suffolk's representatives on Suffolk Lawn Tennis Association and became a qualified coach in 1958. I met and married Bessie Joyce Scarff who was a sister and midwife in the Patrick Stead hospital in 1950 and there was no issue. We lived in Bedingfield Crescent until 1961 when we moved to Holton. To assist my brother in his bid to become a Member of Parliament I organised a successful weekly fund raising event for the Liberals and combined this with property dealing and building projects.

I was Liberal County Councillor for 7 villages south of Halesworth for nine years, but the onset of profound deafness caused me to withdraw from local local government and other activities. In 1970 we bought a damaged and derelict urban Stately Home known as Brewery House at number 15 Quay Street, Halesworth. After converting part of this to provide accommodation for additional Dental Surgeons in the town, we reduced the size of the building to make space for the Halesworth relief road known as Saxons Way. We later changed the name of the house to Hooker House after the father and son duo of Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker who lived there from 1809-1821. Both were prominent botanists who received separate knighthoods for their significant input to the development of Kew Gardens. In 1973 we moved to the bungalow we built in Wenhaston and named this “Salbani”, derived from my time in India, but we continued with our sporting connections in Halesworth.

In 1981 we bought number 56 Holton Road, Halesworth which was added to our property portfolio. This consisted of a former builder's house and workshop which we converted to four flats with garages and named the complex “Albany Court”. My wife died in 1991 after a painful illness. I was elected President of Suffolk County (EBA) Bowling Association for the 1994 season and this entailed considerable commitment to the 63 clubs in Suffolk and several in the other neighbouring counties. In 1999 I started hobby writing reporting for local publications and newspapers but the pandemic caused this to be curtailed. I sponsored Halesworth and District Museum in their publication of my first book “Halesworth & District Street and Place Names” and in 2018 I compiled and published “Memories and Stories of Old Halesworth” all proceeds from which are being given to St. Mary's Church, Halesworth Regeneration Fund. In 2019 I published my autobiography “The Life and Times of Derek Newby” and proceeds from the sale of this are being given to local charities and East Anglian Air Ambulance. See Derek Newby You Tube.



 Maltser's office as seen from Quay Street

Changes starting in 1972


The House Today

Demolition begins


Gwyneth Margaret Newby 13-05-1926 married David Laws on 25-08-1956 and lived in Halesworth. She died on 13-12-1986 and left her husband and one son, Philip.


A winter sunset from the garden of Salbani in Wenhaston

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