Lincoln-Cathedral side
July 2009
52th Edition
Jerrems Family Newsletter
Looking Forward to Looking Back
Dear Donald,
In this issue we continue two story lines:
  • the Jepsons from the maternal side of the family in the 1700's era
  • and a followup to the World War 1 story involving our Australian participants.


William and George Jepson
Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian   Continuing the Saga Left: verandah.   Right: St Botolphs Church (Boston Stump)

This article talks about William Jepson and his son George Jepson (Snr). William was my great great great great great grandfather (quite a mouthful!), the same as for our editor Donald and a lot of our other readers.

I have designated George as "Senior" to differentiate him from his son George Jepson, whose story appeared in the July 2009 edition of the Journal (George was the father of Elizabeth Jepson, who married Thomas Clarke Jerrems in Gainsborough and they and their family migrated to Australia in the 1850s to form the basis of the current Australian and US Jerrems families).

In simple terms William and George (Senior) are on the "maternal" side of the Jerrems families.

The exciting part about William and George (Snr) is that they lived in the 18th Century, which takes us back to the same era as William Jerom, our earliest known ancestor on the "Jerrems" side. The difference is, of course, that we now know quite a lot about the Jepson side and virtually nothing about the Jerrems side.

William Jerom and William Jepson were of course our direct ancestors and have equal status from a genealogical viewpoint. It is possible that this will be the only article which I will be able to write about our ancestors in this period, so I have gone into some detail.

Both William and his son George had distinguished careers in the Church of England. I will deal with them in chronological order (ie William then George).


Recently I googled references to memorials for a William and a George Jepson at Lincoln Cathedral. The Verger of the Cathedral (which is 20 miles/32km south east of Gainsborough) kindly gave me the texts of the memorials, leading me to research these men further.

My research from various sources (combined with the information shown on his memorial) shows that William was born on 5/6/1718 (according to a genealogical website) or 20/2/1718 (the latter being the date on his memorial, which I prefer) at Broxholme (8 miles/13km north west of Lincoln) and died 31/12/1792 at Sixhill (20 miles/32km north east of Lincoln) and married Rebecca (I do not know her surname). They had 8 other children in addition to George (Rebecca bc 1740, William bc 1748, Thomas bc 1751, Charles bc 1753, Hannah Maria bc 1755, James bc 1756, Catherine bc 1758 and Ann).

Turning to William's memorial, it is located in the Cathedral's Shop, which used to be St. Giles' Chapel. Unfortunately the memorial stone is not visible because a floor has been placed over it. However, a record has been kept of what is on the memorial (the slashes show the places where new lines start on the memorial): "Near/ Here lieth the body of/ William Jepson One of the Procurators General/ of the Ecclesiastical Court/ Receiver General/ To The Bishop and Dean and Chapter Of This Diocese/ And Clerk Of The Fabrick/ Upwards of 40 Years/ He was born at Broxholme/ In this County/ The 20th day of February 1718/ And died the 31st day of December 1792."

A procurator general was a chief law officer, a receiver general was probably responsible for collection of church income (for instance from property rental) and possibly the "Clerk of the Fabrick" looked after the buildings.

Initially William was a school master in a school near the Cathedral until he took up his post at the Cathedral at the age of 31 in 1749. He would presumably have received his legal training while working at the Ecclesiastical Court's office.

If William's legal training came from a genetic leaning in that direction then it took a long time to resurface in the Jerrems family. It took 7 generations because (to my knowledge) the next people with legal training were Len Jerrems from Melbourne and myself (solicitors) and Doug Jerrems, who obtained a law degree.


William was chief legal adviser to the diocese's Ecclesiastical Court, which had jurisdiction over a wide range of subjects. This would have occupied much of William's time because these courts had wide jurisdictions. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica says (in rather technical terms which I will not attempt to explain) that these Courts were set up by religious authorities to deal with disputes among clerics or with spiritual matters involving either clerics or laymen.

The Encyclopaedia then goes on to say that the range of spiritual matters dealt with often extended into the secular area. The ecclesiastical courts had jurisdiction over sacramental matters that included anything having to do with marriage, such as separation and legitimacy. They also had exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving wills; in England the ecclesiastical courts, which became Anglican in the 16th century, had complete jurisdiction in matters of succession to personal property until the 16th century and then, in competition with the Courts of Chancery (administered by the Government), until 1857. The Courts also claimed jurisdiction over clergy accused of most types of crimes.

The Courts drew upon a complicated collection of Roman Law and Canon (i.e. Church) Law.
Right: St Botolph's Church
Left: Verandah


For our purposes the Cathedral's main claim to fame is that George and William Jepson are buried there.

Lincoln dates back to the Roman times and is the major city in the County of Lincolnshire. It is also the administrative centre of the Anglican Church Diocese which takes in a large number of surrounding cities and towns, including some relevant to the Jerrems family history (eg Gainsborough, Willingham and Boston).

The Cathedral (its official name is "the Cathedral Church of St. Mary in Lincoln") was built in gothic style and is one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe. It towers above Lincoln, being a prominent landmark, and can be seen from 30 miles away. Its 271-foot central tower is the second tallest in England. Part of the Cathedral dates back to 1072 but most of it dates from the 13th century.

Lincoln Cathedral and its bishops have had a leading role in the history of England. The Magna Carta was signed by the Bishop of Lincoln amongst others, and one of only two remaining copies resides in the cathedral's library.


My research shows that George Snr was born in 1752, d31/4/1837 and married Eleanor Gibbeson (bc1750 Lincoln d15/9.1833) on 22/1/1782. They had 12 children (seven girls and five boys) in 17 years. The girls had quite pretty names (Ellen, Ann, Sarah, Maria, Catherine, Frances, and Jane). The boys' names seemed to boringly follow the names of kings (George, Richard, William, Henry and Charles).The memorial for George is on the wall on the North walk of the cloister and reads as follows:

"Here lies George Jepson M.A./ Prebendary of St Botolphs,/ Succentor, Sacrist, and Vicar Choral of the Cathedral Church./ Who died April 30th 1837 in the 85th year of his age./Also/ Eleanor his wife/ Who died September 15th 1833/Aged 77 years."

George had obtained his MA (Master of Arts) at Cambridge. He would have received the usual classical training at Cambridge, studying the Greek and Latin classics. George must have shown a lot of ability to be sent to Cambridge because this would have been expensive for his parents.

A prebendary is a clergyman receiving a salary in connection with a church or cathedral, a succentor is a precentor's deputy (a precentor being a person who leads and directs the singing of a church or cathedral choir), a sacrist is a person in charge of the sacred vessels, robes and other property used in the ceremonies of a church or cathedral, and a vicar choral is an assistant to the canons or prebendaries in the parts of public worship performed in the chancel choir.

I am not sure how long George spent at Boston but I do know that he was the Vicar Chorale at Lincoln Cathedral from 1828 to 1831, so perhaps he returned to Lincoln in 1828.

These duties, in addition to bringing up 12 children, must have kept George busy! At least the 12 children would have guaranteed that he had a ready-made audience for his church services in Boston.


St Botolph's Church is in Boston, 35 miles/57 km to the south east of Lincoln, near the east coast of England. Nicknamed "The Stump" it dates back to 1309. It is one of the largest parish churches in England, also having the tallest non-cathedral tower in the world at 272 feet /83m high. Reputedly having 365 steps, the tower has an octagonal lantern on top which was a guide to mariners, an interesting combination of Church and lighthouse.

The tower is very unusual from the aspect that it is more than 3 times higher than the church itself. It is prominent against the surrounding plains, which were formerly a mosaic of marshes, swamps and lakes (known as fenland) until they were drained or filled during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was used by Allied airmen returning from sorties over Europe as a navigational feature during the Second World War (on the downside, the Luftwaffe found it useful for navigation also). If George or his children needed to get fit they could have found a ready source of exercise climbing the 365 steps to light the lantern.

r is one foot higher than the tower of Lincoln Cathedral. If William and George had known this (which is unlikely) then George would have been able to engage in a little "one-upmanship" by saying "my Church's tower is taller than yours". Boston was the major town in the area. Its population during George's tenure at the Church was 5,926 in 1801, 8,180 in 1811, and 10,373 in 1821, a small population (I would have thought) to support such a large church. However there was a large rural population as well.

The church was named after Botolph, Botulph or Botulf (d. c. 680), an English abbott and saint. He is the patron saint of travellers and the various aspects of farming.


A search of the telephone book for the area showed 6 Jepsons living within 20 miles/32km of Gainsborough. I sent them the photo of George Jnr, thinking that perhaps they are related to him and may be able to tell us more about him.

Some of the Jepsons wrote back to say that their ancestors had come from Yorkshire. But one said that it was very likely that her husband's forbears had come from Gainsborough, but he had died recently, leaving a box full of old papers. She promised to go through them but she has not contacted me again.


I have found it interesting to research William Jepson (my great great great great great grandfather) and George Jepson (Senior) (my great great great great grandfather)and compile this article. They had quite impressive lives. I hope you have enjoyed reading the article. If you are in the area on a trip then call in at the Cathedral and say "hello" to William and George.

  Interior of St Botolph?s Church
Left: Interior of St Botolph's Church
Remember Us
Ray Jerrems   Looking Upward to Those Who Served My grandfather Edward Smith (sitting) and his brother Alf (killed in France).
Editor's Note: In February's edition we were unable to include the image below due to technical issues, since overcome.

We have reprinted the context as well.

"The second Jerrems connection -my grandfather Coming back to the Battle of Villers Bretonneux, my grandfather (Edward Smith) was a stretcher bearer in the 13th Field Ambulance. He was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry occurring on the 21st April (when the night attack commenced) so he must have been just behind the first wave of Australia infantry attacking along the northern side of the town. The stretcher bearers would have had no shelter from natural features or from the usual shell holes and remains of old trenches left over from previous battles, so they would have risked being hit by the machine gun fire aimed at the Australian troops ahead of them, while attempting to tend the casualties out in the open.

"My grandfather told me that his companions refused to move from a shelter they had found, waiting for the fighting to move further on, out of machine gun range. But he went out by himself simply because the cries of the wounded "would have sent me mad if I had stayed behind", he said. Probably wearing a great coat in the cold, he said that he later found bullet holes in his clothes!

Pictured: My grandfather Edward Smith (sitting) and Alf, his brother (killed in France).


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