Needham, John (d.1480) (DNB00)

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NEEDHAM, Sir JOHN (d. 1480), judge, was third son of Robert Needham (d. 1448) of Cranach or Cranage, Cheshire, and brother of Thomas Needham, from whom was descended Robert Needham, created Viscount Kilmorey in the peerage of Ireland in 1625 [see Needham, Charles, fourth Viscount Kilmorey]. His grandfather William married, in 1375, Alice, daughter of William de Cranach, whose family had long been settled in Cheshire; she brought her husband, as her dowry, half the manor of Cranage (Ormerod, iii. 78). John's mother was Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Savage, K.G., of Clifton, Cheshire (Visitations of Shropshire, Harl. Soc. ii. 371; Harrod, History of Shavington, pp. 18–21).

On 28 Dec. 1441 John was elected M.P. for Newcastle-under-Lyme, being again returned for that constituency in 1446–7 and 1448–9. On 6 Oct. 1449 he was elected member for London, for which in the same year he was common serjeant (Official Returns, i. 333, 336, 339, 342). On 1 Feb. 1453 he was called to the degree of the coif, and on 13 July in the same year was appointed king's serjeant; probably this last appointment was temporary, for in 1454 he was again made king's serjeant ‘pro hac vice tantum’ (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 296). His arguments in this capacity are reported in the year-books until 9 May 1457, when he was appointed justice of common pleas. He retained his post under Edward IV, received a fresh confirmation of it and was knighted on 9 Oct. 1470, when Henry VI was restored, and was again appointed in May 1471, after Edward IV's return (Dugdale, Chronica Series, pp. 65, 70). He was a trier of petitions from England and Wales in 1461, 1463, 1472–3, and 1477 (Rolls of Parl. v. 461 b, 496 b, vi. 3 b, 34 a, 167 b, 181 b, 296 a); he also frequently acted as justice of assize in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and was chief justice of Chester (Notitia Cestriensis, i. 258). His judgments are recorded in year-books as late as Hilary term 1479, and he died on 25 April 1480; he was buried at Holmes-Chapel, Cheshire, where a monument was erected with an inscription to his memory.

Needham married Margaret, youngest daughter of Randal Manwaring of Over-Peover, Cheshire, and widow of William, son of Sir John Bromley of Baddington (Visitations of Shropshire, Harl. Soc. ii. 371). He left no issue, and settled his lands in Holme, called Hallum-lands, Cheshire, which he had purchased in 1471 from Thomas Chickford, with all his estate, on his next brother, Robert Needham of Atherley (Ormerod, i. 544). He also had a seat at Shavington, Shropshire, which subsequently descended to the Earls of Kilmorey. His sister Agnes married John Starkey of Oulton (Lancashire and Cheshire Wills, i. 11).

[Rolls of Parl. vols. v. vi.; Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 296, 316; Rymer's Fœdera, ed. 1745, vii. 178; Dugdale's Chronica Ser. pp. 65, 70, and Origines Juridiciales, p. 46; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; Notitia Cestriensis and Lancashire and Cheshire Wills, published by the Chetham Soc.; Visitation of Cheshire (Harl. Soc.); Ormerod's Hist. of Cheshire, i. 370, 544, iii. 71, 78, &c.; Philipps's Grandeur of the Law; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iv. 219 seq.; Harrod's Hist. of Shavington, pp. 18–21; Foss's Judges of England.]

A. F. P.