Thomas's signature on his daughter Mary's marriage license in 1773(4)
|Children||Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Joseph, Thomas, John|
Thomas's origins are still unclear, as indeed are some of the movements during his early married life. I suspect he originated in Sheen, possibly on one of the neighbouring Pool or Ridge End farms. This is still under investigation.
He married Esther Birch in Sheen on 6th May 1743(1), and their eldest daughter Elizabeth was born/baptised there the following year(2). The next baptism found was in Alstonfield in 1749 for their daughter Sarah(3). No baptism has been found for Mary, but she was born about 1754(4). The last known baptism, for Joseph, was back in Sheen in 1762 by which time they were living at Whitle(5). They had at least two more children for whom no date of birth is known - Thomas(6) and John(7). Judging by the significant gaps between their children and the distinct lack of records in the parish registers (for all of the Needham families in the area it seems!) it is almost certain that they had more - most or all of which died young.
The family finally settled at High Needham by 1771 if not before(8).
Thomas's wife Esther died in January 1804(10) and around the sametime his son Joseph moved back home(11). Perhaps Thomas could no longer manage the farm alone. Certainly his health seems to have been failing as he wrote his will the following year (12), although he did live for another 18 months or so, dying in February 1807. He was buried in Hartington(13).
Brief details of his children:
This is the last Will and Testament of me Thomas Needham of High Needham in the parish of Hartington in the County of Derby Farmer. First I will and direct that all my just debts, funeral expenses, the expense of proving this my will & all other expenses incident thereunto shall be paid and discharged by my Executors hereafter named by and out of my Personal Estate. And whereas I have lately given unto my Son in Law Joseph Grindey a sum of money equal to a Legacy which I had heretofore given unto his wife Mary Grindey And therefore I do hereby give and bequeath to her the sum of one shilling. Also I give and bequeath unto my Nephews Thomas Roberts and Matthew Roberts each the sum of Ten Pounds to be paid to them at the end of twelve months next after my decease. Also I give and bequeath unto my Nieces Esther Broadhurst and Esther Lomas the sum of twenty pounds each to be paid at the end of twleve months next after my decease. Also I Give and bequeath unto the Nine children of my Son Joseph Needham the sum of Thirty Pounds apiece to be paid to them when and as they shall severaly attain the age of twenty one years. And the interest to arise or to be made from the Legacies so given to the children of the said Joseph Needham as aforesaid I do hereby will and direct shall be retained by their Father Joseph Needham to & for his own use Except the sum of four Pounds a year which I do hereby will and direct shall be paid and applied annually in the Schooleage for and towards the Education of the children of the said Joseph Needham until the youngest of such children shall have attained his or her age of fourteen years. Provided always that if it shall so happen that any of the children of the said Joseph Needham shall not happen to live to attain his or her age of Twenty one years that the legacy of him her or them is so happening to die shall be paid and equally divided to and amongst the surviving children when and as they shall severally attain their age of twenty one years. Also I give and Bequeath unto my Son John Needham All my household Goods and Furniture. And also I Give and Bequeath unto my said Son Joseph Needham the sum of Twenty Pounds in lieu of such Goods so given to his Brother John Needham: All and every the rest residue and remainder of my Personal Estate and Effects of what nature or kind soever I Give and Bequeath the same unto my said two Sons John Needham and Joseph Needham in equal shares and proportions. And lastly I do hereby Nominate constitute and Appoint my said two Sons John & Joseph Needham joint Executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and making void all former and other wills by me made. And I do hereby declare this to be my last Will and Testament In witness whereof I the said Testator Thomas Needham have to this my will set my hand & seal the Twenty third day of July in the year or our Lord One thousand eight hundred and five. The mark + of Signed sealed published Thomas Needham and declared by the Testator as & for his last Will and Testament in the presence ofProbate granted 25/7/1807 to Joseph Needham, reserving a power for John Needham