Needham Family

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Needham's of North East Staffordshire (NE Staffs Trees)

Prior to 1532 there would appear to have been no Needham's living in Staffordshire. This I find surprising because of the proximity to High Needham, the place where the Needham's originally came from.

The first Needham record found to date is the birth of a daughter Elizabeth to a father Humfrey in Alstonefield in 1538. By 1542 a second family was living in Alstonefield. Between 1542 & 1547 Edward/Edmund had five children. It would appear that Edward's first wife died after the birth of their last child because in 1549 an Edward Needham married Agnes Johnson in Alstonefield

The first recorded burial was in 1543 when Margaret Needham was buried in Alstonefield. A second Margaret died in 1552, this is thought to be the second child of Edward. Between 1561 & 1571 Thomas, Izabell & William were buried in Alstonefield and a Henry Needham married an Elizabeth Johnson in 1559. So, it would appear that the first Needham's came to Aletonefield and that by the end of the 16 th century a handful of families were established in the county.

Parish records show that they had spread into Staffordshire as by the end of the 16th century there had been burials in Lichfield (five the first being an Agnes in 1568), Stafford (one in 1577), Rocester (eight starting with Margarie Neidham in 1577) and Mucklestone ( Randolph Needham died in 1586). In addition to Edward marrying Agnes in Alstonefield a Henry Needham married a second Johnson girl in Alstonefield in 1559, Thomas and William Needham married in 1588 and 1589 respectively in Lichfield and Jone Needham married in Weeford in 1597.

So, after a slow start the Needham's had begun to spread their wings. But let's go back and look at the Needham's around north east Staffordshire as these are the closest to High Needham. We'll look further into Staffordshire later


First, we will look at the trends in stats from both Parish records and the Census. What do we learn?

Intially the work on Staffordshire Needham's has concentrated on the three parishes in the North East of the county Alstonefield, Longnor and Sheen. It is clear that the Needham's move around these three parishes so when looking at trends the three parishes have been looked as a single area and called NE Staffs (Staffordshire). The trends for these three parishes and compared with all the other parishes (Rest Staffs).

Parish Records

To look at population trends this work has firstly examined baptism records and compared those available for three parishes in the North East of the county Alstonefield, Longnor and Sheen - with those for the total county





Table 1 Baptisms in NE Staffs Parishes of Alstonefield, Longnor & Sheen compared to the rest of Staffordshire




Parish records start in 1537 and low and behold Needham's first appear in Alstonefield in the first half of the 16th century. There were five baptisms within two families, Table 1. For the next 100 years there were no baptisms recorded. Then in the first half of the 17th century there was a significant increase in baptisms outside the NE area, principally in Uttoxeter and Leek see Figure 1.






Figure 1 Baptism trend of parishes in NE Staffs compared to the rest of Staffordshire



However, from the start of 18th century and for the next two centuries the highest proportion of Needham's were born in the NE of the county. A similar pattern holds for burials. In the NE parishes the highest number of baptisms is in Longnor, Table 1. When the general register is introduced in 1837 the number of baptisms drops off rapidly, presumably they wouldn't pay the fee and were not church goers; that will become obvious on the subsequent sections. So we turn to the census to see what they reveal.




Table 2 Residents by Parish




The first useful census for these purposes started in 1841 are available for every 10 years up to 1911. From these records we can now monitor the number of Needham's resident by place, Table 2. At the same time all births, deaths and marriages had to be registered but these were done by district and not at Parish level. The NE parishes are all in the Leek registration district and cannot easily be separated from the total.




Figure 2 Trends in Needham's resident in NE Staffs compared to those in the rest of the county





The first thing to say is that in 1841 about half the Needham's in Staffordshire are in the NE of the county. Over the period to 1911 the number of Needham's living in the NE falls away until in 1911 there are only 15 Needham's in the NE, less then 10% of the total. The drop in the number of residents is quite dramatic and reflects the movement of people off the land, the number of male Needham's that did not marry/have children.



Figure 3 Drop off in Residents in NE Staffs




Needham's of Alstonefield, Longnor and Sheen

First, I must thank Dawn Scotting for her time, patience and assistance. She started me looking at the Needham's of Staffordshire and has patiently led me through the wilderness to the promised land. Without her most of the analysis on this group of Needham's wouldn't have occurred

Alstonefield, Longnor and Sheen are three parishes that border north west Derbyshire. The border runs along the nascent river Dove and all three of these Staffordshire parishes border the large Derbyshire parish of Hartington.

We have already seen that Edward/Edmund had a family of 5 children but they were all girls so this line stopped. The second family is that of Robert and Grace Needham (ne Redfearne)of Hanson Grange, Figure 4. Robert had a sister, Margaret who was buried in Alstonefield in 1643, and he and Grace had at least four children: George d1652, Grace d1653, Mary bap 1625 and Hugh b bef 1639 ( see Sheen 7). In Wormhill there are records of land purchases of a Robert Needham and son Hugh. Robert Needham is a yeoman living at Hanson Grange with his wife Grace and son and heir Hugh Needham. Hanson Grange is at the top of Dovedale. This Robert purchases a messuage and land in Wormhill in 1652. By 1659 Hugh is living in Salford but he and his father are still purchasing land in 1669. By 1676 it would appear that Robert is dead and in 1682 Hugh, gent from Salford, and his son Cornelius are now dealing in property. What happened to Hugh and Cornelius has now become clearer as more records have become available. Hugh must have been well off and respected. He was a Salford juror (1668) and witnessed a number of transactions. He married Martha Wharton in Camden in1665. It might appear I'm having a brainstorm to think Hugh married in London. But Cornelius, his heir, named his first son Wharton Needham. Hugh died in 1692 and was buried in Manchester. So, it would appear that Robert and Grace of Hanson Grange have at least four children and Hugh carried on the dynasty. One interesting point is why two of Robert and Grace's children are buried in Alstonefield and one baptised there yet they live some distance away, in Wormhill. I can only think that Robert came from Alstonefield.

Hugh Needham, it would appear as brought up at Hanson Grange. After his marriage to Martha they had four children: Cornelius b bef 1658, Grace b 1660. Charles b 1663 and John who died in 1667. I'm unsure where Cornelius was born but Grace and Charles were baptised at Tideswell, Derbyshire with Hugh and Martha living nearby in Wormhill in 1660. However, by 1666 the family had moved to Salford where first Martha died (1689) and then Hugh (1692). Cornelius, his heir, married Elizabeth in Chester and they had three sons and a daughter, all bar William were baptised in Manchester. The exception, William, was born and died in London. After this Cornelius' trail dies although a Cornelius Needham died in New Windsor in 1710. The sons all died young so this Needham line dies with it. Hugh had two other sons, Charles and John but I haven't found anything out about them yet



Figure 4 Hanson Grange


The real story starts with George and Maria Needham of Pool near Sheen. Or does it? It is a story that is not easy to pull together. There are clearly missing records, mainly baptism records but in Longnor there are no recorded burials between 1701 and 1798. Like many families there are a lot of common Christian names viz John, George, William, Elizabeth, Mary etc which when you are working with parish records makes life difficult. The Needham's have a tendency to move around a lot. But the most startling thing about this group of Needham's is their sexual practices. There is a larger than average rate of illegitimacy, two Needham's declare heirs in their will to be children whose mother is not their wife. One house-hold at Hall Hill has three different single female Needham's having children; it makes you wonder who fathered the children.


On 6th March 1639 a son is baptised at St Lukes Sheen with a father George Needham. Eighteen days later Elizabeth Needham, wife of George, is buried. I believe this is George's wife who died after her son George was born. George soon remarries. In Nov 1640 a George Needham marries Maria Moore in Chelmorton whether this is our George seems unlikely to me as Mariae would have over 50 when the eldest known child to be baptised, Sarae, was born. However, what isknown is that from 1654 George and Maria had eight children including three boys, John, Thomas & William. When George died in 1701 his will states John was living at Pool with his mum, Thomas was living at Hose Grange(?) at Low side and William at Ridge End. George's will also says that he purchased Ridge end from John Millward. The Needham's were still living there nearly 200 years later when Alfred Needham died in 1892. A similar picture emerges at Pool. 170 years after George's death Rebecca Needham dies at Pool in 1872. However, at Low, where Thomas was living when his father died, the last recorded Needham living there was John Needham who died in 1743.

It's useful to see where all these places are on a map. It's clear the farms are isolated but all within an hour or two's walk. They are in a very pretty part of the country largely laying in the upper reaches of the Dove and Manifold valleys. They are all close to High Needham.
























Pool is the farm where a dynasty of Needham's originated. It started with George Needham who died in 1701. How and when George acquired Pool (presumably sometime in the 17th century) is not known and neither are his parents or birth place.

This was the farm where both George & Maria died in 1700 and 1733 respectively. In his will written in 1689 George left Maria half the property at Pool and the other half to his son John. Three Johns either died at Pool or their wills were written at Pool just before they died. For a summary of which John Needham, I believe each is, go to the following page Three John Needham. George's son John died before his father. John, whose wife was Elizabeth, had four children including Johan born in 1683, Thomas in 1687, Elizabeth and Sarae. John died in 1696 five years before his father George.

John's son Johan/John married Elizabeth Bateman and they had four sons John b 1712, Thomas b 1720, William b 1722 and Joseph b 1725. The youngest three sons were born at Ludburn which is across the Manifold river from Pool (see map). Elizabeth, John's wife, died in 1747 and John marries Margaret Bodman in Sheen in 1752 (Margaret is named in John's will). John died at Pool in 1761 and his heir John b 1712 also died at Pool nine years later in Dec 1769. This John (b1712) left Pool to his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Bossley of Hartington. In his will John (b1712) declares, Joseph Bossley (later known as Joseph Needham after his father married his mother) who was born illegitimate to Elizabeth Bossley was declared as one of John's heirs. Funny goings on but wait for what else happens in this generation

Elizabeth lives at Pool until she dies in 1802. William Needham inherits Pool. He is married to Elizabeth Wardle but when William dies in 1828 the couple are childless and Elizabeth inherits Pool. In the 1841 census she is living in Pool but dies in 1846 at Pool. Samuel Needham, the son of Joseph Bossley/Needham inherits Pool and when he dies in 1858 his wife Rebecca becomes the owner and farms the 30 acres at Pool with her son John until her death in 1872. Pool was sold by auction in Oct 1872 on instructions from Samuels will. His son John moves to Hucknall Torkard in Nottinghamshire, marries and continues to farm.








Ridge End

Ridge End is a farm close to Pool and was purchased by George Needham sometime before his death in 1701. When he died his son William b bef 1685 was living there with his wife Sarah and family. When he died I would elow you End. He was married to Sarah Faulkner and before his death in 1769 Sarah and he had 11 children, including five boys. Between George d 1701 and William d 1769 the bedrock of the Needham dynasty in this area founded.

If I paint a clear picture then I could be fooling myself. As an example, William d 1769 and Sarah are known to have had 11 children but there are only baptism records for six of the children. We know he had five other children because they are mentioned in his will. And in fact, we don't even have a baptism for William himself. But the Needham's rakishness appears as a Jane Dale b 1727, thought to be the illegitimate daughter of Ellen Needham dies at Ridge End in 1762.

When William died in 1769 he left Ridge End to his wife Sarah and on her death his son William who was living at Hall Hill would inherit Ridge End. Following her husband William's death, Sarah lived at Ridge End with her youngest son Joseph b 1755 whose first 3 children were all born at Ridge End between 1783 & 1788. Joseph appears to have left Ridge End for Spink because in his brother George's will written in 1797 he describes Joseph as living at SPink and we know his daughter Thomasin is born there in 1802; Joseph dies at Spink in 1819. But you can't keep the Needham's down because in 1772 a Martha Needham had an illegitimate son William. Who was Martha? Well Martha was almost certainly William and Sarah's third eldest daughter born in 1746 and the father was James Bradbury. William & Sarah's second eldest son George who was living at Crowdicote when his father died, himself died at Ridge End in 1804. A year later in 1805 Sarah died and her eldest son William, the executor of her will, inherited Ridge End as per his fathers will. But William appears to have lived at Hall Hill until his death in 1826.

William's eldest son William b 1769 inherited his fathers estate. He was married to Martha Rooth and from 1788 when their eldest child Alexander was born they lived at School Clough, Fawfieldhead. Alexander inherited from his father when he died in 1840. In the 1841 census Alexander Needham, his wife Mary and their family were page1image3921600living at Ridge End but he died in 1844

In 1846 land at Ridge End was sold when occupied by Mrs Mary Needham; presumably this was Alexander's wife. Alfred,her son lived with her until her death and then he continued to farm Ridge End until his death in 1892 at Ridge End










Alfred doesn't appear to have been a very pleasant person. Newspaper articles. In nov 1864 he was arrested for shooting his friend Matthew Johnson, a farmer from Hartington, in the leg which resulted in a serious injury and amputation was feared. The incident arose when Johnson persisted in wanting to leave and in a drunken state Alfred shot him. He was sentenced to 6 months hard labour.








20 years later in 1884 he was summoned and fined 1s at Leek Petty Sessions for being in charge of two horses and a cart laden with coal but riding without reins.




And in 1893, again at Leek Petty sessions, he was fined 5s for assaulting Sarah Ann Grindey. Alfred would appear to have been the last Needham to have lived at Ridge End.




Hall Hill

The first time I came across Hall Hill was in the will of William Needham of Ridge End farm written in 1769, who bequeaths Ridge End to his son William Needham of Hall Hill. William of Ridge End and his wife Sarah had 11 children, the eldest son being William b 1738 who died at Hall Hill in 1826. Thus, the question is when and how did William, or an earlier Needham come to farm at Hall Hill?

But the earliest reference I have come across to date of a Needham living at Hall Hill is the baptism in 1759 of Ellen m Sarah (I'm presuming the child is illegitimate), shortly followed by the birth of William Needham in 1763, the (illegitimate) son of Mary Needham. But who are Sarah and Mary? Sarah is almost certainly the eldest daughter of William d 1770 and Sarah, which probably means that William b 1738, is Sarah's brother and he was probably living at Hall Hill by 1759. If Sarah is Williams brother then Mary is probably the sister of William. Mary birth/baptism date is unknown. However, there is another alternative as Mary could be the daughter of John and Lidy bap at Longnor in 1736. However, there is a symmetry about Sarah and Mary being sisters. If this is correct then life didn't treat them badly as Sarah married Richard Charlesworth in 1762 and Mary married Joseph Wood in 1767 and subsequently Frederick Hammersley. On the other hand I could be wrong. So two illegitimate children were born at Hall Hill in 4 years. In fact there is a third illegitimate child born at Hall Hill when Samuel Needham is born some 40 years later in 1804 to Martha Needham.

William b 1738 the son of William & Sarah does not appear to have lived at Ridge End. In 1762 he married Mary Lomas and William and George, their two sons born in 1769 and 1771 respectively were both born at Hall Hill and William died there himself in 1826.

Up to the millennium 5 more children were baptised all living at Hall Hill . In 1769 a child with no name but almost certainly William f William was baptised. This was followed in 1786 by the birth of James whose mother was Mary, then in 1795 George had Mary, the first of his eight children and subsequently Joseph b 1798. A second Joseph b 1796 was born at Hall Hill f William. So who were George the father of Mary and WIlliam the father of Joseph.

George was the second son of William b 1738 and Mary. It would appear that George and his family lived at Hall Hill all his married live. George married Ann Gillman in 1790 and all his children were born at Hall Hill between 1791 and 1810. In 1841 he, Ann, three of his sons William, James & Peter and daughter Mary were living at Hall Hill. George died in 1844 and his wife Ann in 1849 both at Hall Hill. William & James continued to farm the 74 acres at Hall Hill after their parents died. James died in 1854 but William and his niece Charlotte continued at the fam and were still their in 1861. William died in 1867 and two years later in 1869 died both at Hall Hill. They were survived by Thomas of Paddock House who died in 1876 but what happened to Hall Hill?


School Clough

School Clough is the place where William and Martha brought up their family of 13 children. William was b 1769 at Hall Hill being the eldest son of William and Mary and married Martha Booth in 1787. Of his children 6 were baptised with a stated abode of School Clough. William died at School Clough in 1840 having written his will in 1833. In the 1841 census Martha, William's widow, is head and farming School Clough with sons William and George. George died at School Clough in 1869.

However, George had not lived at School Clough much as in the 1851/1861 census he was living at the Fold.



Newspaper reports in Nov 1869 show that Mrs Sarah Needham ran the farm which like many in the area were affected by foot and mouth disease. In the 1871 and 1881 census Joseph Needham the grandson of William and Martha and son of Robert & Lydia was farming 170 acres of land.



However, in Nov. 1881 the farm stock were put up for sale. James appears to be the last Needham to farm School Clough farm as he died in 1890.








Moss Carr

This has various spellings but I'm going to use the spelling on the current OS map. The story of the Needham's of Moss Carr starts with George Needham b 1741, the illegitimate son of Ellen Needham. George married Ann Charlesworth and they lived at Crowdicote in Derbyshire. They had two children George b 1763 and Martha, they then moved to Moss Car where Ann died in 1807 at Moss Carr. But George was having an affair and had two children with Hannah Boam, James b 1797and Hannah b 1803, whom he declared as his children in his will written in 1829. In 1812 George married Hannah Boam and they had a daughter Mary b 1816 at Moss Carr. George's son George b 1763 married Mary and they lived at Moss Carr between1793 and 1805 as this was the abode given in the baptism records of 3 of their 7 children.

Both George's and their wife's Ann, Hannah and Mary died at Moss Carr with the son dying before his father (son 1811, father 1829). Of George and Mary's seven children only Sarah married and moved away from Moss Carr. The rest stayed, farmed the land and died there. Rhoda died in 1857, George in 62 and William in '65. The remaining three: Martha, Mary and Daniel died in the 70's with the youngest Daniel the last to die in 1879. It would appear the Needham dynasty at Moss Carr died with him

Other places

1. Low -

occupied by Thomas & Elizabeth Ryley and family - ? to 1709

Thomas & Elizabeth Smith/Elizabeth Gilman - 1701 to 1753


Thomas & Hannah Elliott & family 1839 - 1876

3. Underhill

Peter Needham - 1851

4. Brund

George & Ann Gould & family bef 1768 1785

Joseph & Elizabeth Bembrick & family 1785 - 1788

5. Bank House -

Joseph & Ann ? & family 1837 - 1853

6. The Fold/Fold Farm

George & Sarah Ryder & family 1851- 1861



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