James Heigham

February 9, 1930 ~ November 3, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old

James Heigham Obituary

James Crichton Heigham died peacefully on Nov. 3 at Newbury Court in Concord.

He was 93.

He grew up in Ipswich and, as an adult, divided his time between Ipswich and Belmont.

Born in Sheffield in Yorkshire, England, on Feb. 9, 1930, Jim might have had an unremarkable English boyhood but for World War II intervening.

In the summer of 1940, England was under the very real threat of a Nazi invasion. Jim and his younger brother, Tony, were two of more than 2,600 British children evacuated to North America under the auspices of the Children’s Overseas Reception Board.

The boys arrived in Boston and, after a stay at the New England Home for Little Wanderers, were taken in ”for the duration” by a childless Ipswich couple, Sidney and Katharine Shurcliff, who became Jim’s American family for the rest of his life.

Jim readily adapted to the peaceful country life of Ipswich. Both of his English parents were in the military services.

Our family has forever marveled how they were able to put their boys on a ship, not knowing what the future held.

Jim thrived in the Ipswich schools and later Milton Academy, from which he graduated in 1947.

He opted to stay in America and further his education while Tony returned to England. Jim graduated from Harvard in 1951 and Harvard Law School in 1954.

He then was commissioned in the Marines, serving as both a professional artilleryman and a JAG (legal branch) representative from 1954 to 1957.

He then entered the Reserves, retiring in 1980 after having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Our family is in possession of some entertaining and well-written mid-1950s letters from Twentynine Palms Marine Base in California.

Joining the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall, and Stewart in 1958, Jim became a partner in 1965.    

Jim worked under Elliot Richardson in the U.S. Attorney’s office, and he spent much of his career as a litigator. He worked in a variety of areas, especially libel, where he represented the Massachusetts Association of Newspaper Publishers for decades.

In 1962, he married Katharine “Kayo” Heigham, an Ipswich summer resident. They moved to her Belmont house, where he helped raise her children, Thomas and Susan Blake.

Jim and Kayo welcomed their son, Christopher Heigham, in 1965.  

The Heighams were members of the Belmont Hill Club from 1969 to 2018 and were active in tennis and swimming. Jim was also interested in mountain hiking and history.

In Belmont, he immersed himself in decades-long service in town politics and government, serving as a member of town meeting, the planning board, the capital budget committee, the warrant committee, and numerous subcommittees.

In Ipswich, Jim enjoyed the company of several neighbors who became lifelong friends, including Dan Thompson and Jim Smith (who, sadly, are also gone).

Jim was a crack tennis player as a young man, winning the neighborhood Labor Day tennis tournament seven times. In later years, he refereed the finals matches with a scrupulous impartiality.

In 2010, he and Kayo moved from their too-large Victorian house in Belmont to Newbury Court in Concord. Kayo died there in 2021.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Newbury Court, the Gardens, and Rivercrest for the superb care they received for 13 years.

We remember his wit — dry as a bone — and quiet calm supervising three teenagers in their time.

He was predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Kayo, and stepdaughter Susan Blake. He is survived by his son, Christopher “Topher” Heigham, and his wife, Leba; stepson Thomas Blake and his wife, Heather; and six grandchildren: Matthew, Jay, Trevor, Abigail, Elyana, and Ione.

Donations in his name can be made to the New England Home For Little Wanderers at

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