The Tathams of County Durham
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Branches of the Durham Tathams

Explanation of the 8 branches on this site

The Tatham Family of County Durham

The Eight Branches

There are many descendants of the Durham Tathams - more than 2800 at the latest count - and it not easy to see one's way around this extensive and sometimes complicated family. With a view to simplifying matters, we have grouped the descendants into eight "branches", each containing a few hundred individuals. A branch is just a label for the offspring of a particular Tatham and his or her spouse. There are no other distinguishing characteristics, even if branches sometimes do seem to acquire a flavour their own.

The best starting point for an overview of the branches is Ralph Tatham (1677-1742). Although the family can be tentatively traced for a few generations further back, this Ralph (already the 3rd of the name) is the first person where we have any useful information about his descendants.

Ralph Tatham III was a farmer and landowner at Little Stainton, in the parish of Bishopton, 5 miles north-west of Stockton-on-Tees. In about 1701 he married Anne Mawer, whose family likewise owned land in Bishopton. They had ten or more children, but it is from just three of them that all known members of the Durham Tatham family descend.

The eldest son of Ralph Tatham III and Anne Mawer was another Ralph (Ralph Tatham IV), born in Bishopton in 1702. After studying at Cambridge, the first of a long line of Tathams at St John's College, he went on to take a doctorate in medicine at the University of Leipzig. He practised as a physician in Sunderland, and was also a successful businessman with interests in coal and lead. After a childless first marriage, he was married to Elizabeth Yellowley at Sunderland in 1748. The marriage was short-lived - Ralph IV died in 1752, of consumption, and Elizabeth the following year.

They had two children: Elizabeth in 1750, and Ralph V in 1751. Elizabeth was twice married, and had children with each husband, but nothing is known of their families; this is one of several cases where a daughter's descendants have been lost to view. The son Ralph V followed his father to St John's College, Cambridge, and then became a clergyman, serving for the last 15 years of his life as vicar of St Peter's, Bishopton. His wife was Ann, daughter and heiress of Meaburn Smith. It is with them that the first branch of the Durham Tathams - named "Meaburn" - begins.

The second son of Ralph Tatham III and Anne Mawer was William, born in Bishopton in 1708. He was a merchant in Stockton-on-Tees and was later appointed Salt Officer in Sunderland. In 1731 he married Alice Raisbeck, daughter of a prominent Stockton family. It is from their children that the great majority of the Durham Tathams descend. Because they are so many, they have been split up into six branches.

The eldest son of William Tatham and Alice Raisbeck, again a Ralph (Ralph Tatham VI), went to London and became a merchant, but went bankrupt after a few years. He then set up as a horse breeder at Havering-atte-Bower, only to be declared bankrupt again in 1778. He died suddenly the following year. In 1761 he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Jabez Bloxham, a wealthy wholesale hosier and property owner. Five of their children survived childhood, all sons. Their descendants - except for those of the youngest son Charles Heathcote Tatham - have been grouped into the second branch, "Bloxham".

The second son of William Tatham and Alice Raisbeck was Thomas Tatham, born in 1734. He was an officer in the Royal Navy, and served in America at the time of the War of Independence. In about 1777, in Philadelphia, he married Jane Morris, about whom little is known. They returned to live in Rotherhithe, where two sons were born: Thomas Trevor (1779) and John (1780). Thomas Tatham died at sea soon after, and his widow Jane brought the boys up on her own. Their descendants make up the third branch, "Morris".

William and Alice's fourth son Lawrence Tatham was born at Stockton in 1741. Like his elder brother Ralph VI, he went off to London, where he built up a wholesale hosiery business. In 1768 he married Martha Crew, probably the daughter or sister of his business partner. They had nine children, and their many descendants make up the fourth branch, "Crew".

William and Alice's daughter Ann Tatham, born 1743, married William Christopher, a captain with the Hudson's Bay Company. Their descendants form the fifth branch, "Christopher", of the Tatham tree. Fortunately the Christopher family has already been thoroughly researched in its own right. Otherwise it could have been difficult to trace this female line through to the present day.

The sixth branch, "Heathcote", comprises the descendants of Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842), architect and designer, youngest surviving son of Ralph Tatham VI and Elizabeth Bloxham. Because there are so many of them, these descendants have been kept distinct from the "Bloxham" branch. The extensive "Heathcote" branch includes the Tatham family in South Africa, descendants of the brothers Edmund and Robert Tatham who emigrated to Natal in the 1850s, as well as those in New Zealand, descendants of Georgiana Tatham, and a considerable number in Canada and the USA. However it does not include the family of Charles' daughter Julia and her husband George Richmond, who are so numerous that they have been grouped into a distinct branch.

Julia Tatham's descendants thus form the seventh branch, "Richmond". She and George Richmond had 15 children and 46 grandchildren, and have had 262 known descendants at the latest count. Like the Christophers, they are not only a branch of the Durham Tathams but also part of another family with an identity and self-awareness of its own.

Until recently that was the end of the story. Successive Tatham family researchers had known only of the descendants of Ralph Tatham IV, the physician, (the branch here named Meaburn) and those of his brother William Tatham, the salt officer (the remaining six branches Bloxham, Morris, Crew, Christopher, Heathcote, Richmond). Then in 2010 an e-mail was received from a descendant of their younger sister, Sara Tatham, who married George Carlisle in Bishopton in 1749. Unlike their cousins in the other branches, all of whom had moved away from County Durham by the early 19th century, this family has remained there ever since. Indeed the informant lives within 5 miles of Bishopton, where Ralph Tatham and Anne Mawer were living 300 years ago. So there is now an eighth branch, "Carlisle".

It is stressed that this classification into eight branches has no significance outside the present context, that is, as an aid to visualising the impressively large number of descendants of the Tathams of Co. Durham. The classification is somewhat arbitrary, and could easily be modified, or extended, in response to suggestions or as new information comes to light.

There's an attempt to display the branches in graphical form here.

25 Jul 2011

A couple of footnotes:

1. Over the years there have been a few marriages between members of two different family branches. This raises no problems - their children are considered to belong to both.

2. The name Heathcote is a source of confusion. It occurs mostly in the "Heathcote" branch, starting with Charles Heathcote Tatham, said to be named in honour of a Dr. Heathcote who attended at his birth in 1772. It was independently used in the "Crew" branch, starting with Mary Heathcote, who married Lawrence Mallory Tatham in 1830. Heathcote was given to three of their children as a middle name, but is not found thereafter. Finally, it occurs once in the "Bloxham" branch: Zoe Heathcote Tatham (1897-1971). There is no known link between the usages of the name Heathcote in three different branches of the family.

Owner of originalRCC
Date25 Jul 2011

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