Derivation of the Place Name Needham (see note 1)Thus having concluded that the basis for the surname Needham is locational then the drivation of the name must have come from one or all of the places called 'Needham' . The OS map has three places in England with Needham in it: Needham , Derbyshire; Needham, Norfolk, and Needham Market in Suffolk.
There are at least two theories (16) on the derivation of the place name Needham;
- "Needham" might have come from the Olde English pre 7th century elements 'ned' meaning need, with 'ham', a homestead or village; the name indicating a place that provided a poor living. A similar formation from the same period was the place called Hungerton, also meaning a poor or hungry village. See note 2
- According to thee Needham Historical Society, “Needham” might have come from the Anglo-Saxon and means “Lower Village,”(17) with nieder being Germanic for nether or lower, and ham signifying a village or hamlet, according to the Needham Historical Society. As has been pointed out by George Moore this has some appeal because of the common use of Nether in place-names in both Hallamshire (Nether Hallam Bierlow) and in Hartington Parish, Derbyshire (the parish of High Needham) which had upper, middle, town, and nether quarters.
What of the history of Needham Grange. The first thing to say is that it is not recorded in the Doomsday book which probably means it was a farmstead and part of a larger settlement rather than a hamlet which may be an indicator of its earlier reason for its existence.
According to Francis Needham (13) the current owner of Needham Grange, the first time the Grange's existence is recorded is in 1244 and is referred to as Nedham (14). By 1541 it is known as Nedeham Grange. Maps are a good source of names as cartographers generally name places after consulting the locals. From 1577 to 1750 three map makers refer to Nedam Grange, while one mid 18th century map calls it Needham. Others refer to it as High Nedham in 1614 (14) and by 1817 as High Needham(15). On today's maps it is referred to as both Needham Grange and High Needham on the 1:25k map and as lonely High Needham on the 1:50k map
Nothing exists of the early Grange with the present building thought of as 17th century with a 16th century courtyard and evidence of medieval structures in adjacent fields,(13)
Nearby are Cronkston Grange and Pilsbury Grange which both belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Merevale in Warwickshire at some stage. These Granges were farmed and provided a source of income for the Abbey although I have not seen any documentation detailing the size of these properties and when owned by the abbey. Some have suggested that Needham Grange may have been a farmstead of the larger settlement of Cronkston and owned by the Abbey prior to the Needham's taking ownership (13). However, the timings for this look wrong. The Cistercian order was formed in France in 1098, and arrived in England in 1128 (18). The Abbey at Mereville itself was formed in 1148 by Richard de Ferrers, Earl of Derby (19) . Additionally, at the beginning of the second half of the 12th century Roger Fitzwilliam de Stanton marries the heiress of High Needham and adopts the name de Nedham. Burke first dates the Needham's of Needham as 1155. This would suggest that during the 12th Century High Needham could not have been owned by the abbey. If all these dates are correct then Mereville was formed in 1148 (assume Needham Grange was associated with the Abbey at its formation). Ownership would then have had to have been transferred to a third party, they would have had to have died and the daughter (the heiress of the Manor of High Needham) met and married Roger Fitzwilliam de Stanton so that Burke could refer to the Needham's of Needham by 1155. The dates appear to be too tight, but I could be wrong. It is feasible that Needham Grange was part of one of these properties (ie Cronkston or Pilsbury Granges) before they belonged to Merevale monastry, which would thus explain why it was not mentioned in the Doomsday book; we need to understand ownership of Cronkston, Pilsbury and Needham Granges during the 12th century.
In error on photos attached to Sir John Needham (1569-1618) I forgot to put the source of the images. This has been corrected - Base Tree