When Captain William John Newby died in Auckland in September 1934 aged 101, his obituary revealed a remarkable life. He was born in Cambridge, England, where he graduated B.A. and joined the Army in which, as a Lieutenant, he fought in Italy helping Giuseppe Garibaldi’s “British Legion” create a unified Italy. He was decorated for his part and received a sword of honour which he cherished until his death. He came to New Zealand in 1864 and joined the Waikato Regiment but was too late to join the Land Wars.
William John Newby, JP
He participated in the Gold Rush to Thames in 1867, later settling on a farm at Tapu where he established the first school in the district. He was made Justice of the Peace in 1894. William Newby retired to Auckland and on his 100th birthday was surprised to get a greetings message from the Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini, who also thanked him for his services in 1860.
Researched and compiled by Ric Carlyon