Just a few current and historical tidbits from your Jerrems Editors this month.
All my life I have been asked about the origins my name. Ray and Ari have performed definitive research which is reproduced below. Read it carefully because we will have a quiz on it in the future. Get a cup of coffee and enjoy. Don
Stay Tuned for Future Features:
... Movie Review starring Jean Jerrems
... Big Alex Has Come To Town!
... Image of Members of the Jerrems family (1915)
... Make your own holiday greeting card from all subscribers to all subscribers via the Jerrems Journal.
... "Most Famous Jerrems" series
... Tribute to Liam and others.
... "Baghdad Bicycle" by Chick Keller, a Jerrems family descendant, who took extended leave from the University of Kansas to assist in Baghdad.
... Recently received pictures of Carol Jerrems.
Introduction How often have Jerrems readers been asked where their name
came from? I believe we have the answer. Cheats can read the Conclusion at the
end and skip the details.
The purpose of this article is to examine possible origins of the name “Jerrems”, concentrating on the fairly prevalent theory that the Jerrems families (regardless of what their names were in France) originated in France and moved abroad when the Huguenots were persecuted.
Both Cathy in the US and Aunty Vi in Australia have said independently that they had heard this theory. Aunty Vi thought that the original French name could have been Jerome. This is supported by Ari Jerrems (see Ari’s research at end of this article).
For the sake of simplicity I have reproduced Ari’s research in its original form below, but using occasional cross references.
Some genealogical websites promise to tell the reader where the listed names (including Jerrems) come from but do not in fact offer anything for Jerrems.
Who was Aunty Vi?
The late Aunty Vi was the grand daughter of Charles (born in Gainsborough in 1847). She was in her mid teens when he died. Although she could not recollect exactly where her information about the Jerrems family came from, there is a strong possibility that she got it from her grandfather. This gives it a high degree of credibility because he could have got it from his grandparents, who were born in the late 1700s.
Who were the Huguenots? The Huguenots were a Protestant group which developed in France in the 1500s and 1600s. Their political fortunes waxed and waned, the lowest ebb being in 1572 at the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day, when thousands were murdered. But the pendulum swung back their way in the Edict of Nantes issued in 1598. This gave the Huguenots freedom of worship in about 75 towns and cities where Calvinism prevailed. However the Edict was revoked in 1685.
The World Book Encyclopaedia says that the Huguenots then fled to new homes in England, the Netherlands, Prussia (now in northern Germany) and America (particularly South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts and New York. The WBE goes on to observe that most of them were craft workers or textile workers who played a large part in building up the English textile industry.
Websites state that King Charles ll declared England to be a sanctuary for the Huguenots in 1681 and that about 40-50,000 migrated to England between 1670-1710. Many escaped from France in small boats.
The German Lady’s explanation
In the 1960s an elderly German lady called in at my Uncle Alf’s pharmacy (i.e. drugstore) in Gundagai, halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. She was on a bus tour and saw the name “Jerrems Pharmacy” several shops away from the café where her bus had stopped for refreshments. She told Uncle Alf (Ari’s grandfather) excitedly that her name was Jerrems also, and that her ancestors had come from France. I think she said that there is a town in France (possibly in the south) where Jerrems families still live. She was emphatic that the spelling of her surname was identical.
This story fits in with the “Huguenot” story but differs from Aunty Vi’s version that the name in France was Jerome. At the time it was considered to be a major breakthrough.
Our first known English ancestors were named “Jerom”
In terms of genealogical research the first entry found by Noel Burns in the IGI (the Mormon’s International Genealogical Index) Church records for Lincolnshire (i.e. the County where the family later lived for several centuries, so he may have only searched back in Lincolnshire records) is the marriage of William Jerom to Cecelia (Cis) Futtit on 29th July 1750 at St. Helen’s Church in Willingham-by-Stow near the city of Gainsborough (pictured above).
Their children had the quite “English” given names of William, Alice, Ann and Mary and, despite the fact that the surname of their parents was listed on their birth records as “Jerom”, the children’s’ surname was shown as “Jerrems”. I have seen minor variations of names (e.g. Jerrams instead of Jerrems) through transcription errors etc but the change from Jerom to Jerrems would appear to have been deliberate.
Noel surmises that William and Cecelia were probably both born in this village in about 1730 but the parents of both people are unknown. Probably he only searched in the locality because in those days people did not usually move far from one generation to the next. They both died in the village and were buried there on 27th December 1796 and 18th October 1798 respectively.
Were there other Jerrems families at that time?
This is highly likely because a David Jerrems served in the American War of Independence (US readers know of this as the Revolutionary War) in the 1770s and I have references to James Jerrems in the US, born in England in 1812 with parents born in England.
Perhaps William Jerom was following the cue of other relatives when he put his children’s names as Jerrems.
My original ideas on reason for change from Jerom to Jerrems
It is very significant that William and Cecelia’s children and later generations were christened with the name Jerrems. If we follow the German lady’s version a possible explanation is that this was in fact the original French name. Perhaps the Jerrems migrants changed their surname to Jerom, as a more English sounding name, when England and France were at war, and William’s later generation changed it back again.
We have not found any current references to Jerrems in France. Didier Begat (Susan Jerrems’ husband, Susan being the Editor’s sister) has searched the telephone directories for France (all 95 of them!) without locating any Jerrems people. Have they all died out? (Didier suggests they might have been wiped out in a Huguenot purge in 1572!) This casts significant doubt on the German lady’s version that the name in France was Jerrems.
Perhaps the original French name was slightly different (e.g. as suggested by Aunty Vi and Ari), making searches of the exact name “Jerrems” in France irrelevant. Unfortunately some of the alternative spellings (e.g. Jerome) are popular names in France and it would be impossible to research which Jerome families migrated to England.
Could William Jerom have had Huguenot forbears?
This is not an academic religious question; it could provide a fix on the period that our forbears migrated to England.
Bear in mind that the large influx of Huguenots was in the late 1600s, they had King Charles ll’s blessing, they were fellow Protestants and they brought skills needed in England.
The Huguenots could have settled initially in large cities like Plymouth (a popular landing point) or London, where French would have been spoken by quite a lot of people, and the next generation, by that stage fluent in English, could have moved further afield. William Jerom could have been one of the third generation of Jerrems migrants and would have been completely assimilated.
If we follow the German lady’s version William could have decided that it was time to revert back to the old French family name of Jerrems. Aunty Vi’s and Ari’s version does not explain why William chose “Jerrems”.
Either way it is feasible that William’s forbears were Huguenots.
Ari Jerrems’ Research on Jerrems Origins
“As I study French at university I’ve been able to research a little about the origins of the Jerrems surname. Jerrems is almost certainly an anglicized form of the French Jérôme or Gérôme and hence it is not found in France.
Huguenot surnames were often misspelt when recorded; this is why our surname originally appears as Jerom. In the following web page there is an example of another unrelated Jerome Huguenot family who originally had their name misspelt Jerom, http://www.edgarjerome.co.uk/early_days.html . It is easy to see how the name could become Jerrems if people started talking about “the Jeroms”.
I wrote an email some time ago to the Huguenot Society of Australia inquiring about Jerome and Jerrems, I received an email in reply saying that they had consulted the records and that they had found various references of Jerome and variations but no direct mention of Jerrems.
I wrote some other emails after this but they gave me the cold shoulder after initially being very helpful and enthusiastic, perhaps because they thought that because they had no record of Jerrems that it might possibly be an angliziced name of a non-huguenot family. I also found a reference to a Gerom family which immigrated to England but was Catholic. If you would like to get in contact with the Huguenot Society of Australia their details are on the website, http://www.members.optushome.com.au/ozhug/index.html.
As for the names Jérôme/Gérôme, they are common french surnames with 3462 Jérôme’s and 1564 Gérôme’s. In an online French Surname dictionary Jérôme is described as a Surname most common in the Bas-Rhin and Picardie counties, of Greek origins and made popular in France by the Saint Jerome who was responsible for translating the bible into Latin.
Today the Jérôme surname is most common in the counties of Territoire de Belfort, Indre-et-loire and Ardennes. Gérôme is described as a variation of Jérôme used mainly in Lorraine. It is now most common in Hautes-Alpes, Vosges and Manche.”
It seems to be highly likely that our Jerrems forbears were Huguenots who came from France in the late 17th Century, and that “Jerrems” came from “Jerom” which in turn came from the French “Jerome” or “Gerome”.
On a light note, in future when someone asks you where the name "Jerrems" comes from, don't shuffle your feet and look embarrassedly at the floor, or scratch your ear and look at the ceiling for inspiration. No way! Look the person straight in the eye and say in a firm authoritative voice: "The name Jerrems comes from the old French family, Jerome, which dates back to medieval times" (medieval times are very fashionable at the moment)." If you feel sufficiently confident that you can pronounce "Huguenot" correctly, you could add that a part of the Jerome family were Huguenots who migrated to England in the late 17th Century. Practice it in front of the mirror, it works wonders.
At least we have traced our family back to the 1700s, which is not a bad result in itself.
Response from Lance Jerrems
Hello Sue and Jerry,
The answer is “Yes and no”.
The film is on CD, but the production company (ie: Toi Toi Films Pty Ltd) can’t release copies for public sale until their funding body (ie: the Australian Broadcasting Commission) has shown the movie on ABC national television (under the Australian Story segment). CD’s will then become available – although we haven’t been told how we obtain copies as yet.
A separate DVD is to be produced by the same production company (Toi Toi) which includes the movie, plus other clips made during the making of the movie – which will be for sale in 2006.
We received a note from Lance this week: on September 6th, he is scheduled for a third round of surgery, which will keep him out of work from the WORLEYPARSONS GROUP for five to six weeks, he says). All the best to Lance.
Thanks to Ari for his research. Pictured with friend Gabriela above.
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