Needham, James (DNB00)

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NEEDHAM or NEDEHAM, JAMES (fl. 1530), architect and master-carpenter, belonged to a Derbyshire family (Cussans, Hertfordshire, ii. 60). In 1523 he accompanied the Duke of Suffolk's army to France, and his name appears among the pioneers and artificers in Sir William Skevington's retinue as a master carpenter in the receipt of twelve pence a day. In September 1525 he was appointed by grant a gunner in the Tower of London. After 1530 Needham's name frequently occurs in the State Papers in connection with the building operations of the king and Cromwell. He was appointed clerk of the king's works on 30 April 1530, and during that and the two following years was engaged in devising and superintending the building alterations which were carried out at Esher, York Place, and Westminster Palace. In September 1532 he was engaged in the ‘re-edifying’ of St. Thomas's tower within the Tower of London, and was occupied on that and other works in the Tower during the next three years. In April 1533 he was appointed by grant clerk and overseer of the king's works in England. An entry among the records of the Carpenters' Company shows that Needham was master of the company in 1536. From 1537 to 1541 large sums of money passed through his hands for works and alterations at the king's manors of Otford, Knole, Petworth, and More (Arundel MS. 97); and about this time he signs himself as ‘accountant, surveyor-general, and clerk of the king's works’ (Addit. MS. 10109, f. 173). Needham is doubtfully said to have died in 1546.

On the dissolution of the monasteries the priory of Wymondley in Hertfordshire was granted to James Needham for a term of twenty years, and subsequently an absolute grant of this property was made to his son, and it continued in his family until 1731. There was a brass plate in Wymondley church erected by his grandson to the memory of Needham, in which mention was made of his services to the king in England and France, and of the fact that his body ‘Lieth buried in our lady-church of Bolvine.’

[Calendars of State Papers, Dom. Hen. VIII; Jupp's Hist. of Carpenters' Company; Dict. of Architecture; Cussans's Hertfordshire, vol. ii.]

W. C.-r.