Saturday 28 January 2023

Needham's of Syston

Needham’s of Syston


The Problem


The problem is identifying the head of the family ie his parents and when he was born because there are too many John's, Thomas's and William's and there is little fact to differentiate them from each other. 













Other male








 Table Baptism up to 1700 for men and women




For the whole of the 17th and 18th centuries originally 17 families were identified whose head was Thomas. S we can see there are clusters. The first two Thomas;s look as if they were born close to each other around 1616/18. According to the parish rercords each had one child Thomas bef 1616 had a girl and Thomas before 1618 a boy, John



First name(s)










Thomas & Elizabeth

bef 1616







Thomas & Mary








Thomas & Ann

may 1627




William, Thomas, Ann





bef 1641






Thomas & Katherine

bef 1647








Thomas & Mary

bef 1649







Thomas & Ann








Thomas & Ann

bef 1679



1700 - 1704





Thomas & Mary

bef 1680




Mary, Jane, Eliz, Ann Sarah, Thomas





Thomas & Ann 

bef 1686




Thomas Mary Ann





Thomas & Mary

bed 1687




William, Mary










Elizabeth, ThomasSarah, William, Mary, Ann, George, Eleanor




Thomas& Ann

bef 1701




Robert, Mary, John




Thomas & Susannah

bef 1721







Thomas & Ann




1797 - 1812




Thomas & Elizabeth










Lets see if we can fit some of the information we have together to enable us to link families


We have the will of a Thomas Needham from Syston who was married to a Mary. Thomas was a blacksmith and he wrote his will in Dec 1661. From this we can deduce that Thomas & Mary had two sons John and Thomas and a daughter Mary. The son Thomas lived in Ratcliffe upon Weaks. From the parish records Thomas bef 1618 was married to a Mary had a son, John so it is thought that this Thomas died in 1661 and was a blacksmith. The question that needs answering is where were their children Thomas and Mary born and who were the parents of Thomas bef 1618. Now when does Thomas die. WELL THERE IS A BURIAL OF A Thomas in Sep 1661 but as Thomas bef 1618 doesn’t write his will until Dec 1661 this can’t be him and it’s probably Thomas bef 1616 whose wife is Elizabeth.       Now an Elizabeth sp Thomas dies in Mar 1661 so it looks as if this Thomas and his wife die within 5 months of each other. And there is a second will dated 1661 which indicates this Thomas is a chapman. But like Thomas bef 1616 who was Thomas and who were his parents? There is ann obvious candidate Thomas b 1607 the son of John & Joan. However there is Thomas bef 1616 too consider as John’s son. SO at the moment the jury is out


The will mentions a son Thomas, who resides in Ratcliffe on Weake. Looking at the parish records for Ratcliffe on Wreak there are four families whose head is a Thomas:


Ratcliffe on Weake 

Baptism of parents


span baptism


Thomas & Eliz




Hannah, Tobias, Grace, Sarah, Mary

Thomas & Eliz

bef 1691

tom b1713


Deborah, Thomas Eliza, John

homas & Eliz

bef 1721

tom b 1743


Ann, Thomas, John

thomas& Mary

bef 1737







The first family has Thomas and Elizabeth as parents. They have a family of three girls, including a Mary and a boy Tobias. The father, Thomas, was baptised around 1653. Why do I mention these two children. Well, there is a will of a Thomas from Ratcliffe on Wreake who has a son Tobias and a dau Mary; this would apparently identify   Thomas bef 1618 as the son of Thomas b 1653 from Syston. So, this Thomas could be the son of Thomas b 1616 and Mary living in Syston.



 In Ratcliiffem on Wreake there are two Thomas baptised before 1750



30 Nov 1713

Thomas & Elizabeth


10 Nov 1745

Thomas & ELizabeth



There is a second will for a Thomas Needham. This is dated Aug 1748 , the testator Thomas, has a wife Elizabeth and a son John plus unnamed other children. We know the son Thomas was born in 1666



Thomas & Katherine


Thomas was a master baker according to his will who baked in Rothley but died in Syston. In he married Katherine Franke in Rothley and they had 2 children: a son William and daughter Elizabeth, who was born & baptised on the 10 Dec  1668. However, it would appear that the event was not a happy one because Katherine died shortly afterwards; there is a burial of a Katherine Needham wife of Thomas on the same day. What a dreadful thing to happen. But Thomas carries on although you must wonder what his state of mind was like. He died and was buried Jan 1674 and probate is granted in Feb 1674/5. So that leaves one living relative, William


 More to follow



Ref Doc


Ratcliffe on Wreake (pr)

Families Syston

Linked Families Syston

Leic SYstion Master2019_12_30v2(AUtorecovered)(Autorecovered)

Tuesday 10 January 2023

The Difficulties we face. The Needham's of Mansfield

Just before Xmas I was asked if I could help with a problem in identifying a relative in a family tree. The question was about their great grand father who was thought to be John Edward Needham born in Derby around 1888. There were a number of issues centred around the persons name and whether his birth was registered and if so where. These Needham’s are always causing someone a problem So, let’s start with what we know or I should say let’s start what we can prove.

 In the tree the grandfather is William Arthur Needham b 25 Oct 1913 in Mansfield. It is his father that is John Edward Needham. So we start with by trying to identify William Arthur’s father. I’ll call him John Edward Needham William Arthur was born 22 Oct 1913, fig 1, and in 1939 he was living at 260 Southwell Road, Mansfield with : 1. Mary A Needham b 16 Mar 1686 who was a widow and whose maiden name we know was Mary Anne Thurman (combine 1939 census – mother is Mary A & birth registration info – maiden name is Thurman) 2. Ronald Needham b 21 Apr 1924 Both William & Ronald were miners
Fig 1 Census 1939 

From the Civil Registry William A Needham was born in 1913 with a mother whose maiden name was Thurman; he was born in Mansfield, fig2. So, William’s mother was a Mary Ann Thurman but who was his father?
Fig 2 Parents of William A Needham 

In 1939 the mother Mary Ann Thurman was a widow. But in the 1921 census Mary A Needham is living with her husband John Edward Needham. They had four sons John Edward b 1911, William Arthur b 1913 Reginald b1 917 and Ronald b 1924. The eldest three appear in the 1921 census with f John Edward Needham head and Mary Ann his wife. John is aged 33 years & 6 months ie b Oct 1888 and Mary is 35 years and 3 months ie b Jul 1886.
Figure 3 Census 1921

This leads us to a death of John Edward Needham. As he doesn’t appear in the 1939 census and his wife is a widow he must be dead. The GRO has the death of John E. Needham in Q4 1938 in Mansfield. This is taken from Ancestry. But the GRO data base of does not recognise John E. Needham but does recognise John Edward Needham. This person appears on the same page as John E Needham There is a newspaper article reporting the inquest into the death of a John Edward Needham in Nov 1838, fig 4. It says that John Edward Needham was a miner who has a son William Arthur Needham. We have already found a William Arthur Needham the son of John Edward Needham living in Mansfield. So, it would appear that John Edward Needham was the husband of Mary Ann Thurman and they have six children four boys and 2 girls. John Edward Needham was born in Derby or Derbyshire in Oct/Nov 1888 and his wife Mary Anne Thurman was born in Shepshed, Leicestershire in Jul 1886

Figure 4 Nottingham Evening Post 18 Nov 1938

Figure 5 Death cert of John Edward Needham 

John Edward is clearly married to Mary Ann Thurman but when and where did it occur. I’ve done extensive searches on FMP, Ancestry, Free Reg and the DFHS. The only John Edward Needham I can find is: 
  • In the 1891 census there is a John Edward Needham living with his parents Edward & Alice. John Edward was born in Derby around 1889. The census record states his(John Edward's) father Edward was born in Derby in 1861. But often Derby is short for Derbyshire so it may be that he was born in Derbyshire rather than Derby . He is a fishmonger. On the other hand, his mother Alice was born in Burton on Trent; which is in Staffordshire and not far from Derby 

Figure 6 1891 Census John Edward aged 2 son of Edward & Alice 

But what I cannot find: 
  1.  A birth registration or a baptism for a John Edward Needham b in 1888+/- 5yrs anywhere in England 
  2.  A marriage certificate for a John Edward Needham to a Mary Ann Thurman anywhere in England 
This I find very worrying. In the 15 years I’ve been looking at the Needham’s this is the first time this has occurred. Previously, where certs have been missing I’ve usually found an explanation 

But what has been found is: 
  •  there is a marriage certificate for an Edward Needham 21 marrying a Mary Thurman, Fig 7, on 7th May 1910 in Hugglescote Leicestershire. Edward was aged 21 ie b 1889 and Mary was 24 ie b 1886. We know the maiden name of the mother of your grandfather William Arthur Needham was a Thurman. Further, Edward is a collier and his father, another Edward was a fish monger: see above.

 Figure 7 Marriage of Edward Needham to Mary Thurman 7 May 1910 

This the only reference I can find of a Needham marrying a Thurman in the required timescale. But and there always seems to be a but there are two sets of banns for this event. One set is is registered in Coalville, where the groom lived, and the other, where the Bride lived, was Hugglescote. The problem is the Coalville record says the future groom is Edwin Needham while the are registered to Edward Needham and Mary Thurman in Hugglescote. They are eventually 

Figure 8a Banns for Edwin & Mary Thurman's wedding - Coalville 

Figure 8b Banns for Edward & Mary Thurman's             wedding - Hugglescote 

married in Hugglescote and the groom is Edward. This does surprise me as both Edward and Mary signed the wedding cert which suggests they can read and write. However, it does show that Edward and Edwin can be interchangeable for whatever reason 
  • the 1911 census has an Edward and Mary Needham matching the names and ages of the Edward and Mary who married in Hugglescote Leicestershire in 1910. Shepshed is close to Hugglescote, fig 9 

Fig 9 Leicestershire Parishes where Needham's lived

Fig 10 1911 Census return for Edward and Mary Needham 
  • The 1911 census return for Edward & Mary Needham states that they had been married for 1 year ie married in 1910. Edward is aged 22 b 1889 in Derby and a coal miner, and Edwards spouse, Mary (Anne Thurman) is aged 24 b1887 in Shepshed, Leicestershire. Edward and Mary were living in [Oak] Street Mansfield. This present a problem as in 1881 Edward is a fishmonger and now he’s a coalminer. This does seem unnlikely 
  • In the 1901 census a Walt. and Alice Needham, have four children, Edward aged 12 b 1889, Thomas aged 10 b 1891, Mary aged 8 b1893, and William aged 6 b 1895. Alice was b in Burton on Trent in 1862, The family are living in Green lane, Coalville. Note the marriage cert. of Edward and Mary Thurman says Edward is from Coalville

 Figure 11 1901 Census Walter & Alice Needham and family 

I’ve tried to summarise all this in one table to show the linked data and differences 

Table 1 Table showing records for John Edward / Edward Needham throughout his life 

2 The Issues 

2.1 Name John Edward/Edward

The last record for John Edward Needham was his death certificate/newspaper report of the coroner’s inquest. Both record his name as John Edward Needham with a son called William Arthur Needham. The best estimate is that John Edward was born in 1888+/- 1yr. In addition, the first census after his birth ie the 1891 census has a John Edward Needham living with his parents, Edward and Alice in Burton on Trent. Why Burton on Trent? Well, this is where Alice was born. This all looks straight forward until you look at the census results for 1901 and 1911. I can’t find an appropriate record for a John Edward Needham for these records but as the table above shows there is an Edward Needham of the right age born in Derby whose mum is Alice and she is from Burton on Trent. The available data on Edward fits the marriage record of Edward to Mary Thurman in 1910 in Hugglescote. Everything is a good fit except the name. On two records its Edward and on three it’s John Edward. I’ve seen this interchange of Edwin for Edward & visa versa, before, but I’ve never been 100% convinced that we are not dealing with two families. And this is the case here

So are these the same person? It would appear so except for the name and this could be explained by John Edwards dad also being called Edward. This type of issue is usually sorted with the birth or baptism record as the father’s name and in these times the mother’s name usually appears on the baptism record and is always on the birth certificate can think of two reasons where this could happen. The first is where the father has children, dies and the widow remarries – another Needham in this case. But the second husband has to die and the widow has to marry for a third time but in this instance a man with the same first name as her first husband – very unlikely. where there is conflict in names between census records and birth, death and marriage records. Is when the son has the same Christian name as the father. To avoid confusion the families add another Christian name and it is this name that is recorded on the census return 

Similarly, a death record is in the name of John E. is E the initial of Edward and why is he called John E? Need to check burial crematorium records (see earlier). There is no probate record or newspaper announcement about the death

2.2 Fathers Name/Occupation/Birth 

The only record of a Needham and a Thurman marrying is where Edward Needham marries a Mary Thurman. When Edward & Mary Thurman got married the groom’s father was also called Edward Needham and he was a fishmonger. This matches the information in the 1891 census. John Edward, the son, is 2 and his dad and mum are Edward and Alice. It’s all looking positive until the 1901 census is looked at . This time there is Edward aged 12 the son of Walt. and Alice. Who is Walt? Is this a genealogical googly? Or are we dealing with more than one Edward?. So not only does Edward appear to change to Walt. But transfers back to Edward the Fishmonger. I can take one difference but there are two in this case: father’s occupation and & his name. This is getting too Big 

2.3Birth of John Edward’s/Edward’s father

 As we have seen From Edwards marriage to Mary Thurman it would appear that John Edward/Edwards father was another Edward who you would expect to be born around 1860-1870. The most likely candidates are: 

Table 2 Birth of John Edward’s father Some interesting names cropped up. Eg Edwin and Walter

 2.4 Birth of John or John Edward or Edward or Edwin? 

The questions is can we find a birth/baptism record. I’ve done quite a view searches on FMP, Ancestry, Free reg, Derbyshire Family History Society website using various names and search techniques. The first thing to say is when it comes to parish records , Derby doesn’t have one data base or reference site you can turn to- except I’ve probably built the most comprehensive Needham database for Derby. It is quite clear that because of the state of the records you have to use all the sites to capture what’s available. And it would appear that quite a lot of the records just aren’t there. But you can’t say the same thing about the general register. At least I hope you can’t. 

A reminder we are looking for a John Edward or Edward Needham born around 1888+/- 2 years born in Derby or Derbyshire with a father Edward or Walter 

I’ve found the following records:

Table 3 Possible birth records of John Edward 

If all the earlier work is true then there is only one birth worth following ie. Edward b 1888 in Ashbourne. This is the only birth that fits the name, the year and the birth place (in this case Derbyshire). However, when you track through the census returns then you find Edward Needham living with his parents , William & Hannah in Bradbourne, the place where this John Edward was born. Where as ‘our’ John Edward (LHS)is possibly living in Leicestershire and is a coal miner. Plus our John Edwards mum is Alice not Hannah 

Table 4 1901 Census returns for two Edward Needham’s 

 Table 5 Census 1891 & 1901 returns for Edward Needham Census 1901 

The conclusion of all this is there doesn’t appear to be a birth/baptism record for our man 

2.5 Marriage

 Table 6 Possible marriages for John Edward/Edward Needham 

 The issue of a marriage is clearer as an Edward Needham marries a Mary Thurman in Leicestershire in 1910. The issue is that one of the Bann records says it is Edwin not Edward that is getting married. I appear to be the only one to have spotted the fault although others have taken it that another Needham, Edwin in this case married Mary Thurman 

2.6 William Arthur Needham 

Fig 12 Marriage Certificate of William Arthur Needham to Gladys North

                            Fig 13 Birth Certificate of William Arthur Needham

We already know that William Arthur is the son of John Edward, so the marriage of William Arthur to Gladys North and the birth cert of William Arthur should confirm this is the case. You will not be surprise dto find out that the marriage certificate says William Arthur’s father is John Edward Needham, a coal miner BUT his birth certificate says his father is Edward Needham, a coal miner. One thing is certain, nothing is certain with this family.


 What intrigue. Trying to make sense of all this can give you a headache. I’ve come to the conclusion that:

  • John Edward/Edward are the same person. He was probably born in 1888 in Derby or Derbyshire. His father was Edward and mother Alice
  •  That the birth of John Edward/Edward was not registered 
  •  That John Edward/ Edward married Mary Thurman in 1910 in Hugglescote
  •  That John Edward/Edward’s father was a fishmonger but at some point became a miner
  •  That John Edward/Edward used different first names to suit himself. 

Now I may have got this completely wrong. My question has anyone else found such an intriguing web? Or have I completely misinterpreted the fact.

If so can they get in touch