July 27: John Thomas Newton (1857)

On the side of his tombstone are written these words, “John Thomas Newton entered the navy in 1809, was an officer in active service during the war of 1812, and died while in the performance of his duty, having devoted forty-eight years of his life to the service of his country.” A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Newton commanded USS Beagle on her maiden voyage to the Caribbean. Newton was in command of USS Missouri during her historic crossing of the Atlantic, the first by a steam-powered vessel. At the time of his death, he was the president of one of the Naval Courts of Inquiry that was sitting in Washington. Commodore Newton was known as a scrupulous gentleman in all his relations and a skillful and gallant officer.

Newton’s burial appears in Epiphany’s records. The service possibly took place from a private residence due to the fact the church was undergoing a major renovation at the time. The funeral is described in this article from The Evening Star. “The Funeral of Commodore Newton took place this morning from the Meade House, where the corpse has remained since his death. The funeral service was there performed by the Rev. Mr. Hall, of the Church of the Epiphany. The procession consisted of a military escort–the United States Marines stationed here, under command of Brevet Major Zeilin, with the entire band of the corps, a very long line of coaches, containing the relatives and friends of the deceased officer; members of the Naval Courts of Inquiry; officers of the United States Navy and Army in uniform, and others connected with the government and citizens of the District, Virginia and other States.”

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