A Homage To My Family Of Newtons

My husband’s birthday is just around the corner. We’re getting on a bit now and I’ve been enamoured by every detail of information I can capture about our heritage. I am nee Cochrane and my paternal family history has been diligently outlined by my Dad’s first cousin I respectfully call ‘Uncle Barry.’

My husband’s paternal heritage is super interesting based on the stories I’ve been told in our almost 25 years together (13 married) at the time of this post.

So here’s the deets. Amazing Grace, yes the hymn, was at the forefront of our marriage certificate signing thingamagigamy. This is due to the fact a certain clergyman nameth John Newton co-wrote this hymn in 1772. Now, here’s the clincher that makes this story interesting.

Captain John NewtonWhat I’ve been told, somewhat supported by Google searches, is Mr John Newton was a notable captain of slave ships. He was also a  formidable pirate (take note of the symbolism of the skull and crossbones that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘pirate’).

As the legend goes, Mr John Newton (a respected ‘naval seaman’ in the 1700s) felt guilt about his career choice and tried to desert his crewmen by throwing himself off his ship in an attempt at suicide. But his escape plan didn’t work as he survived. He soldiered on to redeem himself by working onboard numerous vessels sacrificing his noble standing to follow an ethical path.

In 1748,  Captain John Newton had a spiritual reconning. His ship was caught in a troubling storm off the coast of Ireland and was about to sink. He begged and prayed for God’s mercy and guidance, after which the storm dissipated.

As legend tells, Captain Newton succumbed to life on land with religion, and entered the priesthood in the Church of England. It was at this time, his notability as a pirate (flagged with the skull and crossbones) transitioned to the now known Newton coat of arms being the crossbones sans skull.

Father Newton took up a humble role as a parish minister and in 1767 poet, William Cowper moved to the parish and attended church. They developed a friendship and wrote great works recognised by many, including Amazing Grace.

So there we have it. The Newton coat of arms is the crossbones and the family song (as honoured in our nuptials) is Amazing Grace. There may be a few details here, there, and in between which are a little shady – but that’s the story in a nutshell.

Listern to Leann Rimes performing “Amazing Grace” acapella. This played as we signed our certificates of marriage on that Autumn day being the 10th of May in the year 2008.

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