He is first resident Wesleyon Methodist Missionary appointed by the Methodist Mission to Negombo and the Newstead College of Negombo is named after him as he was very active in the work of the school.
Rev. Robert Newstead was born in 1788 and in 1815 he was sent straight from college to join the Wesleyon Methodist Missionary team in Ceylon. He had a fair for languages and he did lot of translation while he was in Ceylon. He helped translate the scriptures, hymns and the prayers book in to local languages.
He came to Negombo on the 17th of September 1817 as Superintendent of the Negombo Mission Station. There he did a great deal of pioneer work in and around Negombo.
He actively involved in the work of the School Which bears his name today. It was a very small School then. Which is only a thatched building almost on the beach. It is said that he reached the outlying areas to work mostly on horse back.
Records reveal that he started work Kurunagala as Well. In 1824 he was compelled to return to England due to his ill health. On recovery he Work closer to him home. Then he retired to Bostan spa. Yorkshire Where he spent last days of his life. He passed away on the 28th of July 1865, at the age of 77. He was laid rest in the church yard of the Boston sap Methodist Church Where his gravestone could be seen to this day.
In 1950 Miss D.R. William the then principal has got the portrait of Rev. Robert Newstead from his grand daughter. There is an account written by: Miss. William describing how she had been offered the portrait of Rev. Robert Newstesd. The portrait was unveiled on the 22nd March 1952 at a simple ceremony in the School hall, by the late Mrs. E.S. Fernando a loyal past pupil of the school When Miss. William was the principal of Newstead.
he portrait presently seen is a copy of the original portrait copying of the port raid was carried out by two very loyal parents. Very talented artists Mr. and Mr. Sarathchandra Ranthnayaka. There splendid work now hangs in the school hall.