James commenced his career as a sailor at the age of 19 in 1850. He served his apprenticeship to the sea on the east coast and in the Baltic trade. On returning to England in 1855, he took his Mate's certificate. and rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming a Tyne Pilot and a Swan Pilot, as well as that of a Master. After marrying Elizabeth Ann Scott in February 1860 at the Holy Trinity Church, South Shields, he gained his Ordinary Master's Certificate in September of the same year and, shortly afterwards, was appointed to his first command., subsequently becoming Master of the Hull steamer, the Beatrice. In 1864, Captain Newton joined the Tyne Shipping Company, his first ship being the Brigadier. He then became Master of the Dragoon and then the Grenadier.
Following an illustrious career at sea, Captain Newton entered the licensed trade. His first establishment was what was then known as the Rising Sun Hotel, Newcastle. He subsequently ran the Addison Hotel in Addison Road, Byker. Other pubs under his management include the Globe Inn, South Shields and the General Wolfe Inn, Shieldfield, where he died in 1906.
Captain Newton was a keen meteorologist and became a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1875 with one of his obituarities reading that "...assuredly everybody read his weather forecasts when printed in the Chronicle". Captain Newton also claimed to be the inventor of fog signalling by the interchange and repitition of loud and low notes.
This is an abridged version of Captain Newton's biography, kindly supplied by his Great Grandson, Paul Fitton, who contacted the Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery via this web site.
The pictures below show Captain Newtons memorial. It has not been vandalised but laid flat deliberately as it was deemed to be unsafe. The two black and white images, supplied by Paul Fitton, are of Captain Newton and his family. Captain Newton is seated, second from the right on the first image, and standing, second from the left, on the bottom image.