From Left to Right:
Alec Jerrems holding his wife's arm (Darlene Jerrems)
Donald Jerrems, in back row,
Jacqueline Jerrems (daughter of Warren and Mia)
Sharon Jerrems, wife of Donald
Tom and Vanessa
Warren Jerrems in back row
Mia Jerrems, wife of Warren in back row
Susan Jerrems Begat (mother of bride)
Didier standing (father of bride)behind Susan
Olivia Jerrems, (youngest daughter of Warren and Mia)
|Ray Jerrems, Family Genealogist||
In this edition of the Jerrems Journal we have an article about George Jepson, part of a series of articles on the history of the Jerrems family in England.
George was a contemporary of "Big Bill" Jerrems, who writes to us regularly in his Emails from Heaven (one of George's daughters married one of Big Bill's sons).
My interest in George has been heightened in recent years by the fact that his portrait hangs on our bedroom wall at the foot of our bed. Every morning when I wake up George is looking down at me benevolently with a twinkle in his eye, as if to say "I challenge you to find out who I am, this is your mission".
Well, I have found out a lot of things about George over the years and I have finally written this article. It is quite a long article but I feel that this is appropriate because he is the only person of his era who I have been able to describe at any length. He may be the only relative born in the 18th Century who I will be ever be able to talk about in detail.
WHO WAS GEORGE JEPSON?
George's main claim to fame is that he is the great great great grandfather of some of our Jerrems readers, like me. Some Jerrems readers should add a further "great" or even two "greats". Got that? Great!
George was the father of Elizabeth Jepson, who married Thomas Clarke Jerrems in Gainsborough (in England) in about 1836. Thomas and Elizabeth had 9 children, including the four boys who migrated to Australia in 1860 and formed the basis of nearly all of the current Jerrems families in Australia and the US.
But I am jumping ahead. George Jepson was born in 1787 in Lincoln, a city 20 miles/32km south east of Gainsborough. After he finished his schooling he was apprenticed as a trainee surgeon to a Dr G. Parnell at Ganiston, to the east of Lincoln. After he had finished his apprenticeship he trained further as a surgeon at the prestigious Guy's Hospital (established in 1721) in London (woodcut engraving pictured below) and became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1810 (almost 200 years ago!). He must have been a capable student because he was only 23 when he was registered as a surgeon.
At Guy's Hospital George had studied under Sir Astley Cooper, who was a distinguished surgeon, being a Professor of Anatomy and surgeon at Guy's Hospital. He had pioneered several new surgical procedures. Sir Astley was created a baronet by George the Fourth in 1821, and afterwards became President of the College of Surgeons and Vice-president of the Royal Society.
In 1811 George left "the big smoke" of London and returned to his rural habitat, entering into partnership in Ganiston with his former master (Dr Parnell), who retired from the practice in 1827.
Meanwhile, George married Sarah Ann (I do not know her surname) in about 1812, and their first child was born in 1813. They had a number of other children in addition to their daughter Elizabeth, settling (presumably after selling the practice) in Gainsborough some time between 1827 and 1841. George was obviously keen on his profession, dying in 1872 at the ripe old age of 84, having continued active practice as a surgeon until shortly before his death (according to his obituary in the British Medical Journal).
George was not a family oddity, his brother Henry was also a surgeon, settling in Middlesex.
GEORGE'S OCCUPATION AS A SURGEON
These days a surgeon is a medical specialist specialising in surgery. In those days the term seems to have covered general practitioners who had extra training in surgery. For instance a "ship's surgeon" was also a normal doctor.
With Gainsborough's population of about 4000 in the 1820s, growing to 8000 in the 1850s, George would have had a good practice. In addition to the usual accidents and maladies of a town's residents, the shipping trade and light industry in Gainsborough (including shipyards and ropemaking factories) would also have given him a good source of trade from injuries to sailors and workers. Later there was also a lot of building and railway construction work.
George's house was within walking distance of the Town Square, so he had obtained a good location for his practice. Presumably it was a two storey building with the surgery on the ground floor and accommodation upstairs, along the lines of shops dating back to the 19th century which are still in the area.
The house was also close to where his daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Thomas lived (see later).
Readers will recognise George's portrait because it has appeared in earlier issues of the Journal. The painting itself is only about 18 cm (8 inches) high, although the frame is somewhat larger. I will tell you later in this article why I believe it is George and how I came by the portrait.
Although these days it might be said that a portrait is not the best source of ascertaining what a person looked like, in the early 1800s there was not (to state the obvious) any photography. So we have to make the best of what is available.
I will now put on my "Sherlock Holmes" hat and make some deductions about George from the portrait.
The portrait indicates that George found life quite agreeable. He shows an air of quiet assurance, as if he is about to say "Trust me, I'm a doctor".
He has blue eyes and is very well groomed, with closely cut brown curly hair and small sideburns. The fact that he has thick hair with no hint of gray and no receding hairline seems to indicate that he is comparatively young.
George is smartly dressed in a conservative manner. His coat has a high collar and he seems to be wearing a waistcoat underneath it (this can only be seen by carefully looking at the original portrait). His cravat (the predecessor of the tie) is carefully tied and is probably made of fine lace, the fabric used in cravats at the time.
Although he is of medium build his sloping shoulders indicate that he was not a sportsman (explicable also by the fact that in cities and towns there were virtually no sports available). His pale complexion supports this. It looks to me as though he is in his late 20s or early 30s, which also means that the portrait was painted between 1810 and 1820.
I would be interested in any other comments from readers.
The unknown artist used the "gouache" technique of using opaque water based paints, in contrast to normal watercolour paints which are transparent. This method was used in the 19th Century.
HOW DID I OBTAIN THE PORTRAIT?
By George, this is quite a story. The portrait was left to me by my father. I had heard vague stories that it was the portrait of an English ancestor. A piece of paper stuck on the back (which I have kept) had a note in my mother's handwriting that it was Doctor Jepson circa 1878, the great grandfather of my father.
I was sceptical as to the veracity of this note for some years, until I received definite genealogical information that a Dr Jepson was in fact an ancestor, albeit a more distant relation than my mother's note showed. This led me to try and trace the movements of the portrait to confirm that it was Dr Jepson's.
Initially I presumed that the portrait had been given to my father by his father. However, several years ago, to my surprise, my second cousin Laurel told me that her mother used to have the portrait. We surmised that it had instead been handed down through Laurel's side of the family and in fact her father or mother had given it to my father.
It is significant that my mother was told that it was Dr Jepson, a surgeon. She would never have heard the name elsewhere, let alone know that he was a surgeon.
The particular importance of these accounts is that they show that it is very likely that George Jepson is the subject of the portrait. Certainly the person in the portrait is dressed in a manner befitting a "gentleman" in the early 1800s.
CENSUS INFORMATION ON GEORGE AND HIS FAMILY
Censuses provide a lot of miscellaneous information which helps to paint a picture about people and their way of life. Some of the information may not be exactly riveting but it is useful to record it for posterity.
George's wife died between 1835 and 1841, having had at least 9 children at monotonous intervals over a period of 22 years. This is considered to be a large family these days but was not at all unusual in those days. No doubt the employment of servants helped the mothers of large families (when servants could be afforded), but even so, having such large families had its medical risks.
The children living at the time of the 1841 Census were George bc 1813, Elizabeth bc 1816, Sarah Anne bc 1818, Sophia bc 1822, Charles bc 1824, Henry bc 1828, Alfred bc 1831, Octavius bc 1833, and Eleanor bc 1835.
The male children were given a good education. For instance George (Junior) was a chaplain who obtained an MA at Cambridge, Charles was a solicitor and Alfred and Octavius were surgeons like their father.
The 1851 Census shows George living in 5 Lord Street, Gainsborough, only 200 yards/metres from George's daughter Elizabeth and son in law Thomas, who lived at that time in 36 Silver Street. This would have been very convenient for the families to visit each other, and for George to make house calls during his daughter's numerous pregnancies. Perhaps it was a measure of George's skill as a surgeon that Elizabeth had nine children and only lost one (ironically he was named George Jepson Jerrems) from causes I have not been able to ascertain
By the time of the 1861 Census George had moved to 6 Lord Street, possibly downsizing.
It seems likely that the family was well off in the early years. In later life George certainly did not have to break his back on household chores or scrimp for money. In 1841 (aged 54) he had 2 servants too look after himself, 2 adult daughters and 3 young children. In 1851 (aged 64) he had a housemaid and a general servant looking after himself and 4 adult children (2 sons and 2 daughters). In 1861 (aged 74) he had upgraded to a housemaid and a cook to look after himself, and a medical assistant to help him at his occupation, with no pesky children living at home.
Out of curiosity I checked out George's neighbours in 1851. An innkeeper, his wife and 3 servants lived in Number 4, together with 4 lodgers, being a Brewer, a Shipping Agent, a Rail Contractor, and a Washer Woman. An interesting cross section somewhat indicative of Gainsborough's population at the time.
A surgeon would have used a horse and sulky to do "house calls" to his patients. It seems possible to me that he could have arranged for his horse to be housed in the stables presumably kept at the nearby inn, where three servants (one possibly being a stable-hand) were employed.
Another aspect regarding his address in Lord Street was that it was only a short walk to the magnificent All Saints Church (pictured below), the only Anglican church existing before 1843 in Gainsborough. George's grandfather and father were employed in the Anglican Church in Lincoln and one of George's sons was a chaplain, so it is highly likely that George would have attended church.
I am very pleased that I have finally written this article about George, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. Now, when I wake up in the morning and see George looking down at me from his portrait on the wall I can say to him with a completely clear conscience "George, I know who you are. Thank you for being my great great great grandfather, and may you rest in peace".
All Saints Church in Gainsborough
Guy's Hospital (established in 1721) in London
|Donald Jerrems, Publisher, Editor||
All Jerrems Group Picture - Informal Setting
From Right to Left:
Darlene with husband Alec,
Mia with husband Warren,
Sharon in middle,
Sisters Olivia and Jacqueline,
Past Editions of the Jerrems Journal ©
Back to Jerrems Home