Needham's and the Civil War
Needham's fought each other in the English civil war. The midlands saw fierce fighting during the civil war with neighbouring towns taking opposite sides and families torn apart. This article tells the story of two soldiers one a Parliamentarian, Colonel John Needham and the other a Royalist, Colonel George Nedham. They were involved in two critical battles took place there which ultimately resulted in victory for the Parliamentarians. The year was 1645 and the Royalists led by Prince Rupert were attacking Leicester a Parliamentary town. After layIng siege to the town. Y hey managed to capture it but the cost was high as a large number of civilians and soldiers died and considerable damage was done to the city walls. The main Royalist army left soon afterwards as General Fairfax and a large Parliamentary army approached. Shortly afterwards the two sides fought this time at Naseby where the Royalists were defeated. Flush with victory Fairfax returned to Leicester and quickly retook the city and Colonel John Needham was made the Governor of the Leicester.
Colonel John Needham - Parliamentarian
So who was John Needham? John was the son of William Needham of Kirklington. In 1610 John's father William leased the Manor-of Stanton on the Wolds from Sir Gervase, ref 1. During the civil war and when John was Parliamentarian Governor was living at the Manor House, when he was the of Leicester. A party of Royalist soldiers came to capture him at Stanton, but he escaped from the manor house and hid in the neighbouring gorse. In late 1642 and early 1643 he was a captain of foot in the Warwick Castle garrison. On Brooke's orders, he was responsible for disarming Stratford-upon-Avon. In Apr. 1643 he became governor of Kenilworth Castle and by Jan. 1646 he was governor of Leicester, ref 2. For his efforts Parliament mde him Colonel of a garrison of foot soldiers based in Leicester. What happens to him is unclear for upto two years herented a house in Leicester and it would appear that he remained in the army but i cannot find any more references to him. which is a pity because it contrasts sharply with a Nedham who was also a Royalist
Colonel George Nedham - Royalist
The Parliamentarians went after the Royalist army and eventually defeated it at the battle of Worcester. A leading Royalist Colonel George Nedham fled to the West Indies where he became a Member of the Jamaican Assembly and was an early Speaker of the Jamaican Parliament. When Charles II came to the throne he rewarded him with land (and slaves)
So who was Colonel George Nedham? it tuurns out that he 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 .
- "A Potted History of Stanton on the Wolds"; http://www.keyworth-history.org.uk/histories/stanton-on-the-wold
- Hughes, Warwickshire, 194; TNA, SP28/136 Part 1; SP28/253B; Hutchinson, Life,97
Web 1 Nov 2022