Needham Family

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The Nedham's of Jamaica

Story of one of Jamaica's earliest Families

The Nedham family had a significant impact on the West Indian island of Jamaica, but why did they go there and what did they do?

The story starts with Colonel George Nedham who was the third son of Sir Robert Nedham of Pool Park Denbighshire; Sir Robert was the MP for the county- see Needham Base Tree and the Origins of the Earls of Kilmorey. George was a royalist and fought for the Royal cause. After the fatal battle of Worcester in 1651when Royalist forces were crushed by Cromwell, Prince Charles barely escaped with his life and fled to France, George left for Antigua. It's not clear when he arrived but he married there and soon moved onto Jamaica. After the restoration of the monarchy, George was given large grants of land on Jamaica by the King Charles II for his loyalty to the Crown during the troubles and the period of the Commonwealth; on 22 nd Sept 1684 he was granted 710 acres in the Parish of St John's in the Vale by King Charles II. In 1668 for 1800pieces of eight Sir Thomas Modyford bought all hid plantations in the Parish of St Catherines ie Sixteen Mile Walk of 666 acres. A further 800 acres was sold in 1674to William and Francis Knollys. He settled on the estate of Shenton in Bog Walk, St Thomas in the Vale. Shenton was named after Shenton in Shropshire the ancient seat of the Nedham's; the estate in Bogwalk is still known by the name Shenton.

George was Colonel of the Militia and a member of Assembly and Speaker of the House for a short period in 1686-8 and a member of the Council in 1688. He represented St Mary in 1675, St George& St Mary conjointly in 1673 &1673/4 and St Thomas in the Vale in 1677, 1678, 1680/1,1686, & 1687/8. In 1688/9 a Council of War and Martial Government was declared by the Attorney General against the Lords of Trade and Plantations. It is thought that George left the island because of this and returned to England where he died

George married twice, first in 1660 to Mary daughter of William Bryan of Antigua. After her death George married another Mary this one being the daughter of Sir Thomas Mollyford (Governor of the Island 1664-1671 and friend of the buccaneer Henry Morgan). With his first wife he had seven sons but only three survived infancy: Robert, William and Edward Winter; in addition he had three daughters Henrietta, Mary and Elizabeth Grace.

George was a Roman Catholic and a Non Juror. He returned to England after the Revolution and although it's not known exactly when George died, it is possible he died in England around 1689. His will was proved on 2 July 1690, the same year his second wife, Mary, died in Spanish Town . Much of his large estate passed to the Ellis family through George's daughter daughter Grace, who married John Ellis.

George was the first Nedham on Jamaica and formed one of its oldest families. The parish of St George appears to have been named after him. He took an active part in Jamaican politics as did his sons. The Nedham family remained on the island until the turn of the 19th Century, when the last of them left the island and settled in England .

According to du Quesnay , George had a younger brother Major William Nedham who also settled in Jamaica and like his brother he was a member of the Assembly between 1673/7. He was married and had two daughters. He died in 1705 so, if he existed, his line died out. I can't find any other reference to George having a brother William but clearly there was a William Nedham living in Jamaica at the same time as George; who is parents are is the question. Can anyone help?

Robert(1672-1738), the eldest son and heir to his father George's estate was also co- heir with Sir Edward Hayly to the estates of Nicholas Hagenall, grandson of Sir Henry Hasenall, of Plas Sewyth Angelsey. Robert was a member of the Assembly representing St Georges 1701, St Catherines 1701/2, St Thomas in the Vale 1702, St George 1705, St Thomas in the Vale 1706 & 1719, ST George 1722. He married Elizabeth Shirley, daughter of William Shirley of Port Royal, a brother of Sir Anthony Shirley of Preston, Sussex. Sir Anthony was the first British sea raider to set foot on Jamaican soil when he landed here, circa 1596, plundered part of the Island, and burned the Spanish capital of St. Jago.

Robert Nedham had three sons and five daughters, but only three children survived, namely Robert, Henry and Shirley. He died and was buried at St Catherines on 2 Oct 1738.

Robert (1704-1762) the second son of Robert (1672-1738) was baptized in 1705. Later, he settled permanently in England on his estates at Newry Co. Down and at Oxford.

Henry (-1757) , his younger son was a member of the Assembly in 1730-1731. He later represented St. Mary between 1740-45. He was a member of the Council in 1750. He died unmarried in 1757. This seems to be one and the same man as the Henry Nedham who arrived in Jamaica after one of his excursions in England, in 1738, accompanied by the notorious Teresa Constantia Phillips, who was traveling under his "protecting companionship". Years later, this flashy personality was created Mistress of the Jamaican Revels by Lieutenant-Governor Henry Moore.

William (1675-1746) was the second son of George Nedham and resided at Mount Olive, St Thomas in the Vale, Jamaica. When William Nedham was born in March 1675 in Saint Catherine, Jamaica, his father, George, was 40 and his mother, Mary, was 21. He was a member of the Assembly and Speaker in 1718 and 1733. St Thomas in the Vale 1701,1701/2, 1702/3, 1704/5, 1714; St James 1715, St Catherine 1716, St Thomas in the Vale 1718; Speaker of the Assembly 1718, St Catherine 1719, St James 1722, Speaker again in 1722. He was expelled from the assembly on 13 Nov 1725 for being absent. But he was re-elected for St Georges in 1731, St Catherine's 1732/3, Speaker for the third time in 1732/3, Port Royal in1735/6, and for the last time elevated to the Chair of the House, having been a member of 18 assemblies.

He was Chief Justice in 1746 and member of the Council. He married Olivia, daughter of Oliver Hampson of St. Thomas-in-the-Vale and Spanish Town on July 4, 1700, in Port Royal, Kingston, Jamaica. . She brought him the estate of Mount Olive, situated near the famous 16-mile Walk in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale now Bog Walk. They had five children during their marriage. William died 1 st July 1746 and was buried at Spanish Town , Saint Catherine, Jamaica . His eldest son Hampson inherited his estate

Edward Winter Needham (1683-1722) was the youngest of George Nedham's sons and was baptized in 1683. He married Martha Lewis in 1708. He was a member of the Assembly for St. Mary in 1715. He died in 1722 and was buried in St. Catherine.


Hampson Nedham (1706-1752 ) was the only child of William (1675-1746) to survive his teenage years. When Hampson was born in 1706 his father, William, was 31 and his mother, Olivia, was 21. He married Martha Dubber of Whitney Oxfordshire on January 8, 1727, in London, London. They had one child during their marriage, William Dandy Nedham. He inherited his father's Olive estates and was the 12 th largest landowner in Jamaica owning 9267 acres in three parishes. In 1740 he was called to the Council. He died in April 1752 in Port Royal, Kingston, Jamaica, at the age of 46.


William Dandy Nedham (1730-1811) was the only child of Hampson Nedham and so was his heir. He was born on September 23, 1730, in Mount Olive, Saint Ann, Jamaica, the child of Hampson and Martha. He married Mary Morant on June 4, 1760, in Jamaica but she died in 1768 without issue. He then married Eleanor Aikenhead and they had six children together.

He followed the tradition set by his great grandfather George Nedham by being elected to the Jamaican Assembly for Vere 1755 &1756 and St George1766. He was elected to Council in 1757. In 1766 he was elected speaker but he never took up the position as he left for England in 1765. He died on May 20, 1811, in Jamaica, having lived a long life of 80 years.

William Nedham (1770-1844) was the eldest son of William Dandy and Mary. On the death of his father in 1811 he inherited the family estates. When he was born on March 18, 1770, his father, William, was 39 and his mother, Eleanor, was 40. He married Lucinda Strode in 1792 in Stoke Damerel, Devon but had no children. Following the death of his wife he then married Marianne Baker and they had seven children together. In 1800 he was elected MP for Athenry (Galway) in the Irish Parliament. He died on February 13, 1844, at the age of 73.

The land that he Nedham's owned would largely be sugar plantations with the labour needed met by slaves. The Government kept slave registers which are available for the years 1817-1829. In this period Major Genera; William Nedham had the following slaves on his plantations


















A typical return is shown below


















William Nedham was the last of the family to own property in Jamaica. He was born in London and joined the army, 37th foot, as an Ensign in 1786 when he was 16 and rose to Major General in the 4th Royal Veteran Battalion . After he retired he lived in England. In 1835 he claimed unsuccessfully as owner-in-fee for the compensation for the enslaved people on Mount Olive in St Thomas-in-the-Vale. The compensation was paid to the London merchants Davidsons and Barkly as mortgagees , He died in Worthing and was buried in Broadminster Church.

Henry Nedham (1814-1876) was William Nedham's second son born in Burnett, Somerset, 29 Oct1814 . He appears to be one of the last Nedham's to have lived in Jamaica. He "went to Jamaica with the intent of being trained in sugar production with a view to managing the family estates." He was an overseer at Nutts Plantation (no date recorded), a Lieutenant in the militia in 1836, manager of the St Thomas-in-the-East Savings Bank in 1841 and an Assistant Judge/JP in St Thomas-in-the-East in 1845. He married Alexander Skinner and they had 5 children. He died in London in 1845

The Nedham family eventually leave Jamaica around the turn of the 19 th century, when the last survivor or survivors of the Jamaican branch left the Island to settle in England.

In 1936 Mr. Frank Cundall of the Institute of Jamaica, in a letter preserved in the Institute, states that for 46 years he had been engaged in hunting for portraits of Jamaican worthies to add to the portrait gallery, and had so far never come across a portrait of Nedham


1.Frederick J. duQuesnay

2. Burkes Landed Gentry 1849

3. The laws of Jamaica 1681 1759

4. Historic Jamaica; Frank Cundall


6. Lack family history .







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