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About the study
Nesom was my grandmother's maiden name and over the years I have traced her family back to John [abt 1754-1832] and Lettitia Nesom of Grindon, Co.Durham. Almost all 50 references to Nesom individuals in the 1881 Census are descended from them. John began as a Nesham of East Rainton. My maternal line has several Neesom branches often spelt Neasham, so I'm exploring how many of the variants are linked and if they all have their roots in the tiny village of Neasham on the Tees. Having identified the famiies listed in the 17th century Hearth Taxes the next task is to link these families with those listed in the 1851 Census.
The only certain fact about this surname is that it consists of three consonants: N at the beginning, S or SH in the middle and M or N at the end. In between, all the vowels may be used. Hence: NESOM, NEESOM, NESHAM, NEASHAM, NEESHAM, NESHIAM, NUSAM, NESON, NUSUM, NISAM. Often several of these variants appear in the records of the same family.
Neasham is a tiny village beside a ford north of the River Tees, and south of Darlington, Co.Durham. The oldest references to Nesham families I have found are to Arnald de Nesham a merchant of Gascony, referred to in the 'Calendar of the letter books of the City of London' dated 32 Edward I,[April 1305]; John de Nesham who was Bailiff in Hartlepool in 1342; Sir Thomas son of Michael de Neshum, chaplain, mentioned in Gateshead in 1345; and William de Nesham admitted as a Freemen of York around 1395 which seems to support the link. As with the surname, the village name varies greatly in early records, from Nesome to Neasham.
Historical occurrences of the name
- Admiral Christopher John Williams Nesham who died in 1854 aged 83 had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars serving in The Channel & the West Indies. He originated from Houghton le Spring, Co.Durham, where his grandfather John had mining interests.
- Sarah & Edwin Neesom were passengers on the Ocean Monarch, a three-decked Transatlantic trading vessel which caught fire shortly after leaving Liverpool on 24 August 1848. Both Sarah & Edwin were saved by passing ships but 176 out of the total of 398 crew and passengers were lost.
- George Henry Nesom born in 1884 at Shaws Farm Masham, Yorkshire, became a soil specialist working at the University of Minnesota in 1920s
A survey of the surname in 1673 in the Hearth tax records for the North Riding reveals 19 households, while only three are mentioned in the 1666 Hearth Tax for Co.Durham. Of these 19 North Riding households 2 are at Eryholme where there were several families in 16th-17th centuries; and 3 are in neighbouring Dalton on Tees. These villages lie across the Tees from the village Neasham. Two of the Durham households were ar Hurworth on Tees which partners Neasham to the north of the river. Another focus was the market town of Richmond with 3 households.
Distribution of the name
A survey of the 1881 UK Census reveals 1088 individuals with about 648 of these living in Yorkshire or Durham, 23 in Northumberland, 32 in Lancashire & 42 in London, the rest is made up of individual family groups or individuals scattered across Devon, Shropshire, Wiltshire and Warwickshire.