The Needham family

“The Needhams lived at Lenton for some 60 years and are reasonably well documented from various sources, especially a small family publication entitled Memories of Lenton published in 1910 by M.C.M(artineau), a descendent of the family. Several original family letters of the 1830s are deposited in the NAO (Nottinghamshire Archives Office) as are the Lenton parish registers. The Needhams were in origin well-off yeomen-graziers from Bingham in the Vale of Belvoir. An earlier Matthew Needham (see the details of the marriage settlement of 1766 mentioned above) settled in High Pavement, Nottingham as a surgeon and apothecary and married as his second wife the sole heiress of William Lee of Wilford, a wealthy hosier. Their son Matthew (1768-1840) of Lenton House was apprenticed as a hosier and by 1793 was a partner in a hosiery business in Nottingham. The family were strong supporters of High Pavement Unitarian Chapel and Matthew married (see the details of the settlement of 1795 above) into a Unitarian family from Norwich - the Mannings - in 1795, living at Wilford until Lenton House was built. The eldest son William was baptised at Wilford in 1799 but a daughter Anne at Lenton in 1801, confirming the date of their move into the new house in or about 1800. The various documents shed light on the social life of the couple. As Unitarians they were prominent in all movements for freedom, and in 1825 Count Santa Rosa, an Italian refugee, often came to Lenton House, sometimes bringing his fellow refugees; one such party outside the house is shown in a sketch by one of the daughters, Ann Needham (who with an interest in the lands at Wilford had been a party to the indenture of 1795 detailed above) (later Mrs. Enfield) an accomplished local artist, reproduced in the book mentioned above. An ironic incident occurred in 1831 when Matthew Needham and one of his sons were absent from home. The house was attacked by the Reform Bill rioters after they had set fire to Nottingham Castle, apparently mistakenly believing it to be the home of John Wright of Lenton Hall, a Tory banker who was opposed to reform, when in fact the Needhams were supporters of the movement. After Matthew's death his widow continued at Lenton, assisted by her brother-in-law, Richard Martineau, who made the house their summer home and presumably undertook the expenses. William fortunately remained solvent and became involved in the Butterley Iron and Coal Co. in Derbyshire. He lived nearby at Alfreton Grange and after his mother's death in 1850 leased the house out. The above account is based on a booklet, Lenton House, compiled by Keith Train for the Boots Co.(1980).

(Reproduced by kind permission of Adrian Henstock from his book, ‘Tracing the history of your house’. Further reproduction expressly forbidden )

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