Open main menu

NEWTH, SAMUEL (1821–1898), principal of New College, London, born in 1821, was son of Elisha Newth, by his wife, the eldest daughter of J. Killick. His father was an early convert of Rowland Hill (1744–1833) [q. v.], with whom he was associated at the Surrey congregational chapel, so that Newth's boyhood was passed under the sway of vigorous religious influences, and he came into contact with all the leading congregationalists of the time. His early education was conducted by his father, who instructed him in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, and Italian, after which, in 1837, he entered Coward College. He graduated B.A. and then M.A. in the university of London with high mathematical honours, and after ordination settled, in 1842, at Broseley, Shropshire, where for three years he was minister of the congregational chapel. In 1845 he was appointed professor of classics and mathematics at Western College, Plymouth, one of the congregational colleges for training candidates for the ministry.

While holding this appointment he published two elementary text-books on natural philosophy, 'The Elements of Statics, Dynamics, and Hydrostatics' (1851), and 'A First Book of Natural Philosophy' (1854), which are distinguished by clearness and simplicity of treatment, and were long recognised as standard text-books.

In 1855 he was appointed professor of mathematics and ecclesiastical history at New College, St. John's Wood, another of the congregational colleges, where he remained until 1889. In his work at this college, the students attending which number from thirty to forty, the varied character of Newth's attainments was of special value. In 1867 he added the teaching of classics to his other duties, and in 1872 succeeded Robert Halley [q. v.] as principal of the college. This post and the professorships of New Testament exegesis and ecclesiastical history he retained until his resignation in 1889, after which, however, he still maintained his position as a member of the college council.

Newth's great work lay in the influence which he exerted as principal of New College on the minds of the divinity students who came under his care. Although his rule was strict, he gained their affection and esteem. He was a most accurate scholar in all of the many branches of learning which he cultivated, and was deeply versed in the history of the nonconformist colleges. In 1870 his ability and reputation as a Greek scholar were recognised by his appointment as a member of the company of New Testament revisers, and he took an active part in the revision which was completed in 1880. A general account of the labours of the revisers, together with an historical sketch of the whole question of biblical translation, was given by him in a series of 'Lectures on Bible Revision,' published in 1881.

Newth attained a very high position among congregational divines, and received the highest honours at the disposal of the congregational union. In 1875 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the university of Glasgow, and in 1880 he was elected chairman of the congregational union of England and Wales, while he also officiated as chairman of the London congregational board, and organised the congregational library at the Farringdon Street Memorial Hall. For the last eight years of his life he resided at Acton, where he died on 30 Jan. 1898.

In addition to the works already mentioned Newth published 'Mathematical Examples,' 1859, and 'Christian Union,' an address delivered to the congregational union, 1880; and edited 'Chambers of Imagery,' a series of sermons by his brother, the Rev. Alfred Newth, 1876, to which he contributed a memoir of the author. He was also the author of an essay on 'The New Testament Witness concerning Christian Churches,' contributed to a series of essays by various writers published under the title 'The Ancient Faith' in 1897, and wrote numerous articles in the 'Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature.'

[Short biographical notices are given in the Times, 31 Jan. 1898; Nature, lvii. 322; the British Weekly, 3 Feb. 1898; the Independent, 3 Feb. 1898; Congregational Year Book, 1899, p. 62; 'Dr. S. Newth,' a memorial address by Joseph Parker, British Weekly, 3 Feb. 1898; Some Memories of Dr. Newth, the Independent, 3 Feb. 1898.]

A. H.-n.