My Inspiration - The Leadam Family

The Leadam family owned No. 65 Tooley Street, an Apothecary shop and surgery from the late 18th century through to the mid 19th century.

Three generations of Leadam surgeons lived and worked there and they are the inspiration for my Tales of Tooley Street series.

The first novel, entitled Sinclair, features the apothecary owner, Mrs Charlotte Leadam, a fictionalised version of Mrs Jane Leadam the wife of Christopher Leadam who died and was buried in Walkington, East Yorkshire in 1793.

Here is what eminent historian and judge Isaac Saunders Leadam, had to say about them.

The Leadam Family by Isaac Saunders-Leadam

Old map showing the River Humber, Hull,
Beverley and Walkington

The form of spelling the name in use by the writer and his family is, he believes, exclusively confined to them. The family of Leadam were for many generations before the close of the last century owners of land in and in the neighbourhood of Walkington, East Yorks. 

Countryside near Beverley

They probably belonged to the class of substantial yeomen, though usually described in wills and deeds as "gentlemen," and occasionally even in contrast with other parties who are described as " yeomen ; " and though they seem to have retained the use of a crest, a demi-griffin proper with a feather in its beak, it was perhaps scarcely customary among yeomen proper.

It happens unfortunately that the Parish Registers of Walkington were carried up to London about the year 1754 as evidence in a law suit between the Rev. Handle Hancock, then Rector of Walkington, and the Corporation of Beverley, and never returned.

All Souls,Walkington Parish Church
The present Rector, the Rev. Douglas Ferguson, to whose courtesy I am much indebted, informs me that " the books are reported to have been seen by Professor Poulson, who was searching when busy writing his History of Beverley." I have however succeeded by the means of tombstones, wills, the transcripts (very imperfect) of the Walkington Registers, preserved in the Diocesan Registry at York, the Registers of Land Transfers, etc., in reconstructing the pedigree as far back as one Emma Leadam, who was buried at Walkington Nov. 22, 1661, the name therefore appears not to have varied in spellng for more than two hundred years.

About the beginning of the last century, one John Leadam the younger, gentleman, of Walkington, owned freeholds and copyholds in the parishes of Walkington, Heddon, Coningston, Bishop Burton, Wilier by, Swanland, Ebberston, and Snainton, besides land and houses in Hull.

Beverley Street showing the Minster
A younger branch of the paternal generation had settled in Beverley, but also owned land in Walkington. This branch, however, became extinct on the death of William Leadam " a Hull and Beverley, merchant," without issue in 1752.
All present bearers of the name are, therefore, descended from John Leadam the younger, "of Walkington and Willerby, gentleman," born 1609, died 1752, and buried at Walkington. He was the father of ten children, and not long after his death the family possessions were sold, and the family dispersed. His eldest son appears to have settled at Beverley, and to have fallen into comparatively poor circumstances. His male descendants are believed to have become extinct before 1815.

Trade Directory entry for
Thomas Robinson Leadam, Surgeon

The last female descendant of this son married in 1815, George Fielding, Esq., Surgeon, of Hull. The second and third sons of John Leadam the younger, William and Robert Leadam, emigrated to Virginia. It is believed that some of their descendants are still existing in America, and that one of them is a surgeon or physician, and the writer would be glad to be brought into communication with them.

What the Tooley Steet Apothecary
 might have looked like.
 Photo - Williamsburg Colonial 
The fourth son died young. The fifth son and tenth child, Christopher Leadam, great grandfather of the writer, came to London, and practised as a surgeon. He was the last male of the family buried at Walkington (1793). His male descendants down to and including the present eldest son, William Ward Leadam, M.D., have all been surgeons or physicians.

The family politics appear to have been Whig, if one may judge from the fact that the two brothers, John Leadam the younger of Walkington and Robert Leadam of Walkington and Beverley, both supported Fox, the first Lord Holland, in 1741.

Isaac Saunders Leadam's Cobden Club Prize Essay

The Coat is — Gu., a cross ermine between two crescents in chief or.
Crest. — A griffin's head between two wings, holding a feather proper.
In conclusion, should any of your readers meet with my spelling of the name of a date later than the Commonwealth, or with any near variation prior to that date, I should be obliged by a communication.

Isaac Saunders Leadam, M.A.,
Late Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford ; 1879.
Lincoln's Inn, Barrister-at-Law.

Thanks to:

No comments:

Post a Comment