Awards & Titles:

Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches twice
Queen's South Africa Medal with four clasps
King's South African Campaign Medal with 1901&2 clasps
Deputy Lieutenant (Durham)

Early Life :

John was born at Whorlton, Durham in 1864 son of Morley Headlam of Wycliffe, Yorkshire and Louisa K. nee Beamish, of Cork, Ireland. His father was a landowner of 280 acres, farmer, magistrate and employer of 5 staff to assist manage his affairs.

He first appears on the 1871 census, aged 6 heading a list of siblings all within the charge of a governess: Maria L. (b. 1865), Alice G. (b. 1866), Morley L.C. (b. 1867) and Isabel M.B. (b 1870.). Living with them is mother-in-law, Louisa, an annuitant and staff Druscilla (governess), a nurse/domestic Servant, a Under-Nurse, a House-maid, a parlour-maid, a kitchen maid and a male general-servant. There were probably more staff who lived in their own homes.

He was educated at a school where he was resident at Newlands, Tooting, London and King's College, London.

John was resident for some time at Gilmonby Hall, Yorkshire, prior to his wedding.

A newspaper record shows that he was married to Mary Charlotte Wilkinson, daughter of Percival Spearman Wilkinson, of Mount Oswald , Durham, at the All Saint's Church, Malabar Hill, Bombay on the 21st December, 1890. They were married by the Reverend A.W. Headlam, John's uncle and the Venerable Goldwyer Lewis, Archdeacon of Bombay.

They had two daughters: Margaret Ellen and Mary Phyllis.

His portrait can be found as part of the National Portrait Gallery collections and is displayed above under Creative Commons licence.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: General Staff 

Action : War Survivor 

Although many perished in times of national conflict and in the service of their country, many more survived including those interned as Prisoners of War. Stories of those who did survive are included as part of this site, especially those with high gallantry awards, those included against an external rolls of honour and those who had a distinguished career in wartime and military leaderhip.

Following his time at the Royal Military Academy, he joined the Royal Artillery as Lieutenant 28th July, 1883, being promoted to Captain 22nd March, 1892. He was Instructor at the School of Gunnery, 1st July, 1892, to 30 June, 1897, and was promoted Major 13th February, 1900. In 1913, as part of the Birthday Honours, Colonel John Emerson Wharton Headlam, D.S.O. is awarded Companion of the Order of the Bath.

He was D.A.A.G., South Africa, 24 June, 1902, to 3 June, 1903; Assistant Director of Artillery, Headquarters of Army, 1 April, 1904, to 19 July, 1906; was given the Brevet of Colonel 22 Aug. 1905; A.Q.M.G., Headquarters , India, 3 July, 1908, to 4 Dec. 1908; was promoted to Colonel 25 Nov. 1908; Director of Staff Duties and Military Training, General Staff; India, 5 Dec. 1908, to 2 April, 1913; Temporary Brigadier-General 7 Jan. 1911, to 2 April, 19.13; was created a C.B. in 1913; Brigadier-General, Commanding Royal Artillery, 5th Division, 1 Oct. 1913.

He cites himself as a Brigadier-General in masonic record in 1913, but the war records show him as a Major-General in 1915-8. The 1939 register shows him as a 64 year old retired Major-General, resident at a Private Hotel in Shrewsbury.

Detail :

Headlam served in the South African War from 1900 to 1902, as D.A.A.G., for Royal Artillery, Headquarters Staff, in South Africa, 13 Feb. 1900, to 23 June, 1902. He was present in the operations in the Orange Free State from Feb. to May, 1900, including operations at Paardeberg (17 to 26 Feb.); action at Poplar Grove; John E. W. Headlam. operations in the Transvaal, May and June, 1900, including actions near Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill (11 and 12 June); operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, July to Nov. 1900; operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River.

He was mentioned in Despatches London Gazette, 16 April, 1901, and 20 July, 1902; was given the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel 22 Aug. 1902; received the Queen's Medal with four clasps; the King's Medal with two clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 19 April, 1901]: "John Emerson Wharton Headlam, Major, Royal Artillery. In recognition of services during the recent operations in South Africa." The Insignia were presented to him by the Duke of Cornwall and York 14th August, 1901, at Pieter Maritzburg, Natal.

He served during the European War from the beginning, still commanding the 5th Divisional Artillery until 18 Feb. 1915, when he was promoted to Major-General for distinguished services in the field. He was Major-General, Royal Artillery, Headquarters, Second Army, from Feb. to Dec. 1915; Major-General, Royal Artillery, General Headquarters, Dec. 1915, to May, 1916; on Special Duty from May, 1916, including the Allied Mission to Russia in 1917, and the Artillery Mission to the United States in 1918. He was wounded at Le Cateau on 26 Aug. 1914, and was twice mentioned in Despatches London Gazette number 27305 page 2605 published 16th April, 1901.. He was created a K.B.E . in 1919. Sir J. E. W. Headlam holds the 1st Class of the Order of St. Anne, With Swords (Russia), the Legion of Honour (Croix de Commandeur), and the American Distinguished Service Medal. He was honoured to be a Deputy Lieutenant for County Durham.

"Received a D.S.O ... quite an inadequate recognition for his services; recommended as a special case" Source: WO108/146

Died at Church Stretton, Shropshire 14th October, 1946.

Probate HEADLAM sir John Emerson Wharton K.B.E. C.B. D.S.O. of Belveder Church Stretton Shropshire died 14 October 1946 Probate Durham 14 February to lady Mary Charlotte Headlam widow. Effects £838 16s. 7d.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Ubique No. 1789 E.C.London
Joined : Hope No. 413 E.C. Bengal
Joined : Stewart No. 1960 E.C. Punjab
Joined : Kitchener No. 2998 E.C. Northern India
Joined : Prince Albert Victor No. 2370 E.C. Pakistan
Joined : Salopian No. 262 E.C. Shropshire
Joined : Lodge of Friendship No. 6 E.C. London

10th August 1896
8th February 1897
13th April 1897

Sir John was a 32 year old Captain of the Royal Artillery when he was initiated into Ubique Lodge No. 1789 in 1896. He went on to join many lodges as he moved around the Empire, both at home and abroad, but mainly India.

Ubique Lodge No. 1789 10th August, 1896. Captain, resident at Shoeburyness. He remained a member of his mother lodge beyond 1921.
Lodge Of Hope No. 413, Meerut 5th November, 1898. Captain, R.A., Resigned 25th February, 1901.
Stewart Lodge No. 1960, Rawal Pindi 11th April, 1907. Colonel. Resigned 25th November, 1912.
Kitchener Lodge No. 2998, Simla, Punjab 2nd August, 1909. Colonel. Resigned 7th April, 1913.
Prince Albert Victor Lodge No. 2370, Lahore, Punjab 27 Oct 1910. Colonel. Resigned 28th November, 1912.
Salopian Lodge No. 262, Shrewsbury 10th November, 1913. Brigadier-General. Shows war service in the Great War and continues to pay his dues beyond 1921.
Lodge Of Friendship No. 6, London 12 Feb 1914. Brigadier-General resident of Handover. He shows no war service against this lodge, but remains a member and pays his dues beyond 1921.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2021-03-20 08:17:10