Winter on a farm in Wappenham; notice the sheep lying in the snow.
March 2008, Edition 35 Jerrems Family Newsletter
Another Visit to the Homeland
Dear Donald,
Unlike too many chefs in the kitchen, more genealogists seem to improve our understanding of the Jerrems heritage.

Thanks to all who contribute.

Ray's Reminder: Place the mouse pointer over the photos to display the caption. Works well.

Wappenham, the Birthplace of Some of the Jerrems Lineage
Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian   Retracing our Past Sheep lying in the snow on a Wappenham farm.
This article started life as a short light-hearted item, but when Editor Donald raised some queries I realised that it needed more explanations. Like the legendary "Topsy" it has grown.

The result is that if you want to you can skip over details like the cross references to earlier Journals, but these references could be of interest to researchers in the future. After all we have issued 34 editions of the Journal so far (I have just counted them for the first time!) so cross referencing can be helpful.

Back to the article. In the February edition of the Journal I announced the big news that Sandra has traced a "new" branch of the Jerrems family back to Wappenham in England. Her great great grandfather Joseph was born in Wappenham and emigrated to the US in the 1830s. Joseph was also Sarah's ancestor.

I also related to you how that branch's surname had shifted over a period of time from "Jerromes" to "Jerrams" and finally to "Jerrems".

To put this in context, several years ago I had traced what I thought were three separate families in the USA, in addition to the number of families in the US who are descendants of William George Jerrems. One of these families included the blacksmith James H. Jerrems, who I labeled "the strongest Jerrems" in the January 2006 Journal.

Sandra has found that these three families were actually parts of a single family, and that there was a further part of that family in the US (to which she belongs) which I had not previously located.

In earlier Journals I described the history of the Gainsborough area because I felt that it would help readers understand how the main Jerrems family had evolved. For the same reason I will now tell you something about Wappenham, where Sandra and Sarah's "new" family originated.

Our Digital Visit to Wappenham
Ray Jerrems, Travelmaster   One of the Sources of Us Wappenham town hall.
What an unusual name! In a flight of irreverent fancy I wondered initially whether large pigs had been bred there and they had been named "Whopping Hams", later adapted to "Wappenham". However I soon discovered (with the help of Mr Google) the more prosaic explanation that the name is derived from the name "Wapeham", recorded in the Domesday Book, a record of the survey carried out in 1086 by William the Conqueror.

The Village website tells us that:

"The village has a population around 200 and like a lot of villages most people commute elsewhere to work and children travel to schools in Silverstone and Towcester. There are a couple of buses a week going to Northampton and one to Banbury.

We have a number of small businesses operating in the village but agriculture predominates in the surrounding area. Whilst, regretfully, we have no pub, we do have a much valued Post Office and Stores and a 'Postie' who lives in the village.

There are a number of thriving organisations which provide essential social contact and community service for all ages. The old school, which is now the village hall, is the centre for many of the activities including meetings of the Parish Council and Annual Assembly. Religious Services and other activities also take place at the Chapel and the Church.

The village is linear in style and comprises a mix of old and new houses but with no large developments. A number of the older buildings are listed, as is the old red telephone box on the green opposite the church. We have no street lighting which some consider keeps us, literally, in the dark ages! The 13th century Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is a prominent feature and there are fine examples of architect Sir Gilbert Scott designs around the village including the Rectory next to the church. There is a good network of well signposted public footpaths from which the village and its features can be better viewed and appreciated."

No pub in Wappenham! In Australia we had "The Pub With No Beer", which I thought was a tragedy, but to have a village with no pub at all is infinitely worse.

Comparison of the present population of 200 with earlier populations shows that the population declined significantly in the 20th Century. The population was 367 in 1801 (when Sandra's ancestors lived there), 383 in 1901 and 213 in 1971. Perhaps the decline was caused by the closing of the pub.

The Domesday Book records a priest at Wappenham in 1086 (indicating that the village existed at that time), however the beautiful St Mary the Virgin Church has only been dated back to 1300, with some parts added later. The members of "Friends of St Mary's" help with fund raising for the Church.

How does one have a "St Mary" (I thought that saints were males)? Goodness knows!

Perhaps some of the "new" family who stayed behind in Wappenham are buried in the Church's cemetery. We will try to find out. We need Sue Jerrems to go back to England to look there (remember her photographs of Jerrems family gravestones in St Helens Cemetery at Willingham? Edition 14, June 2006).

Photos of the village (including the photos in the February edition) confirm that the village is linear in style, as described on the website. Most of the houses are on the main street, although a photo of the former Work House shows a side lane. I will tell you about Work Houses (also known as Poor Houses or Asylums) in another article.

It is interesting to see that most of the houses are almost on the street itself, and that they are large, with high gabled roofs.

Wappenham was shaken to its foundations on 27th September last year when BBC Radio Northampton came to Wappenham Village Hall to record "The Green Welly Show Gardeners' Question Time" (for the uninitiated a "Welly" is a gardening gumboot). The good citizens of Wappenham were invited to "Come and put those gardening queries to the team of experts". All this excitement for the modest fee of six pounds, to include wine and light refreshments.

The small size of the population indicates that historically the village did not do much more than provide basic services to the surrounding rural community. In this regard it was like a multitude of villages sprinkled through the countryside of England in the 19th Century. In the days when most people travelled on foot they needed access to basic facilities within easy travelling distance of their homes. For more complex things like weekly markets they could travel further afield. For instance Towcester, a market town dating back to Roman times (it was on the famous Watling Street, a paved Roman road), is only 6 miles away. In fact the close proximity of Towcester would have virtually doomed Wappenham to permanently playing a minor commercial role.

We could surmise that Wappenham in its heyday (using this term rather tongue-in-cheek) in the early 1800s, when Sandra's great great grandfather (Joseph) lived there, would have had a general store, a produce store, a blacksmith and a carpentry workshop (I have included this because Joseph was a carpenter, so he would probably have done his training in Wappenham).

We do not know whether the family of 10 children lived in the village or on a farm. Joseph's brother James was later a farmer in the US, so it is probable that they lived on a farm.

So at least I have made a start in telling you something about the newly discovered family.
UK Geography
Ray Jerrems, Cartologist   Wappenham - Caught in the Middle Jerrems Hill near Mottisfont

Incidentally, for readers who like geography, Gainsborough, which has featured so heavily in our Journal articles, is 175 km (110 miles) north of Wappenham.

Also, Mottisfont (remember the article about Jerrems Hill? (pictured from JJ Edition 15, Sept 2006) is a similar distance south. This seems to indicate that the original connection between the families must go back a long way. Wappenham is tiny compared with nearby towns like Towcester (population 9500), Buckingham (population 11,500 in 2001) and Brackley (population 13,300 in 2001).

If the village was on a motorway and you blinked at the wrong time you would miss it!

Click here for map; Wappenham on green arrow.

Donald Jerrems, Publisher, Editor   Running Warren Warren running in an unidentified road race (circa 2006).
Watch for our family runner, Warren Jerrems, in the 112th running of the Boston Marathon on April 21st; he was featured in JJ Edition 13, April 2006. Retired Marathoner, Donald, will be spectating on the Boston sidelines.

Let's hope our family Guardian Angel Angie (JJ Edition 33 January 2008) stays with him as he runs up Heartbreak Hill.

And, we are still looking for good Jerrems stories and "Remember Me" Photos.


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