Headlam Origins

The origins of the Headlam name comes from a heath or waste land in Anglo-Saxon, which was a "haedh", and the term "haedh lea" was applied to the clearing over grown with heather. This may of become "haedh leam" and from these two local terms came the names of Hedley, Headley and Headlam. This later name was Hedlum in an old Roll of the year 1190, in the vicinity of what is now Barnard Castle. Src:

The family of Headlam has been settled in Teesdale from the year 1309, when Peter, son of Jordan Russell, Seneschall of Durham, released to his younger brother Simon all rights in Hedlam, Stainton, Newsome and Cleetlam. This Simon took the name of "de Hedlam" or Headlam, by which the family has since been known.There are references of a John de Hedlum 1243, John de Hedelam 1356, and John Hedlam 1461.

Simonís descendants, became large landowners in Teesdale, but the direct line became extinct by the marriage in 1554 of Joane, sole daughter and heiress of William Hedlam, to Francis, eldest son of Sir George Bowes, of Streatlam. The Bowes family are ancestors of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother.

A branch of the family settled and acquired land higher up the valley of the Tees - the Register of Middleton-in-Teesdale has a regular series of entries relating to "Headlam de Egleston," commencing in 1579.

1 John Headlam b: 1663 d: 17 Mar 1747/48  to ??  (?? b: 1670; d: 13 May 1743)

Two known children are" 

a Mary Headlam (b: 1700; d: 18 Nov 1775) mar Robert Wilson (d: Abt. 1775 )

b John Headlam - he is remembered in the Nave of the Gateshead Church in the town of Newcastle upon Tyne - "John Headlam, Shipbuilder, 1761"

Country News - April 26 "Died at an advanced age, Mr. John Headlam, Shipbuilder near Gateshead. ... Src: London Chronicle

Enslaved Africans were increasingly transported to the colonies instead of indentured labourers and convicts from Britain. In his memoirs, one of the indentured labourers from Newcastle to North America in the 1720s, compares the lot of indentured servants with those of negro slaves.

The Tyne was a stop off point for ships taking immigrants to America from Europe, Convicts were transported from Britian to the North American colonies, including the group convicted at Newcastle in 1772 sent to Virginia.

Others were developing colonial trade - exporting coal used for fuelling the sugar pans and boilers and a wide range of other goods made on the Tyne to the American and Caribbean colonies from the 1720s to the 1770s, and brought back pitch and tar, vital ingredients in ship building and maintenance and importing Jamaican rum. 

The forefathers of the late Dr. Headlam, M. P. for Newcastle, were once ship-builders at Stockton, whence they removed about the middle of the last century to Gateshead, and there they launched in 1750 on the Tyne a ship of thirty keels, called " The Russells

In 1752 the ship ĎThe Experimentí was launched from Headlamís ship-building yard - it was built for Newcastle merchants for the West India trade and it sailed for Jamaica in October with Newcastle made goods, and returned in June 1753 with sugar, rum, pimento, coffee, cotton, mahogany and lignum vitae. According to traditional report; " it was of most endurable construction".

Mr. Chapplelow was sent by Government to Stockton to buy timber, and when he arrived there,it struck him that what was too small to send to London might have been advantageously worked upon the spot. Hence the commencement of ship-building at Stockton.

The forefathers of the late Dr. Headlam, M. P. for Newcastle, were once ship-builders at Stockton, whence they removed about the middle of the last century to Gateshead, and there they launched in 1750 on the Tyne a ship of thirty keels, called " The Russells."

Mr. Michael Humphrey took the Headlam shipyard and built a number of vessels. He was succeeded by Stephenson who continued the business till 1782, when it passed into the hands of Mr. Thomas Haw, Sen.,who, from that time to 1800, built sixty-one vessels.

Later the ship-building yard that was once the property of the Headlams, was occupied by Messrs. Pearse, Lockwood & Co. also iron ship-builders, and the father of the late Dr. Headlam, in his advanced years, being a visitor at the seaside villageof Seaton Carew, went to Stockton during his stay there. While visiting the home of his youth, he lingered in the well-remembered garden, and begged of Mr. William Mellanby, Sen., who then occupied the shipyard, not to cut down "the old pear tree" round which he had played and spent many a happy day in his childhood. Mr. Mellanby, who was a generous, kind-hearted man, afterwards sent the old gentleman, while he was at Seaton, a basket of pears from the tree he was so glad once more to see, and he expressed his gratification that an opportunity had been afforded him of again renewing one of his boyish delights.