|Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian||
Big Bill's Wedding
The residents of Stainton-By-Langworth in Lincolnshire who happened to be near St John the Baptist's Church (pictured above) on Thursday, 24th January 1805 would have seen a wedding taking place. But who were the wedding party, and why was the wedding being held there? Read on, and all will be revealed!
The Wedding Party
As you may have guessed, the groom was William "Big Bill" Jerrems (b1782), who has been a popular subject in previous Journals and sends us emails from Heaven. His bride (who no doubt looked radiant, like all brides) was Elizabeth Clarke (b1781). The groom's parents William and Mary Jerrems would have attended, as would the bride's parents Thomas and Anne Clarke, the groom's siblings Jane, Robert, John, Charles and Mary, the bride's siblings (including teenage sister Mary), and Big Bill's aunts Alice, Ann and Mary (and Mary's husband Mark). The officiating Minister was Mr Thomas Brown (no relation to Tom Brown of "Tom Brown's Schooldays" fame).
Why this Church?
Elizabeth and her parents lived at Newball, a mile south of Stainton-By-Langworth. There was no Church of England Church in Newball, the parish's church was in Stainton-By-Langworth. So the wedding was held there.
This was of course quite a long way for the groom's family to travel, from the village of Willingham-By- Stow. It is about 20 miles from Willingham-By-Stow to the church. This would have been a cold and slow trip by horse drawn vehicle (for instance by sulky) in the middle of winter. On the other hand, winter was a convenient time for a wedding for farmers because there were no crops to tend and the stock were kept in yards!
I do not have definite information on the occupations of Big Bill's relatives. I have assumed that they were farmers (or connected with farms) because Big Bill and one of his sons owned farms.
Why not St Helen's Church at Willingham-By-Stow?
St Helen's Church (pictured below) was much larger, holding 200 people, and it had larger grounds and a prettier setting. We know that Big Bill's parents were married there, and Sue found the gravestones of Big Bill's mother and a daughter-in-law in the graveyard (I wrote about these people in the Journals of August 2006 and November 2007), so Big Bill's family had a longstanding connection with this church. Probably the simple answer regarding the choice of venue was that it was protocol for weddings to be held at the bride's church of choice.
More information on Stainton-By-Langworth and the Church
The little village is on a gentle hill above the Langworth River near an ancient Roman road. At the time of the wedding it had about 166 inhabitants, compared with a combined population of 134 for this village and Newball in 2001.
The original church dated back to the 13th Century, however it fell down through neglect and was rebuilt in 1796, nine years before the wedding. Original items like the medieval bell (bearing a cross and the inscription "Jesus be our Spede") were recovered and incorporated in the new Georgian-style stone building, which consists of a chancel, nave, and bell-turret. A chancel is the area around the altar of the church, usually enclosed, for the clergy, choir etc. A nave is the main body, or middle part, lengthwise, of a church. Although the church therefore had the basic facilities of a church the most obvious limitation of the building was its size, it would only hold 80 people. It reminds me of many modest little churches built in colonial times in rural areas in Australia, although the Australian churches were mostly of timber construction.
The Lord of the Manor, who owned the village lands and paid the Church vicar 180 pounds per year (and presumably paid for the reconstruction of the church in 1796), was the Earl of Scarborough.
Inside the Church is a War Memorial and plaque for the two World Wars. There is a graveyard on the other side of the access road, with plenty of vacancies. The website of the Church of England's Diocese of Lincoln lists an amazing total of 637 churches in the Diocese. Most of these served a parish, which could have comprised several villages within walking distance of each other.
How did the bride and groom meet?
|Ray Jerrems, Family Genealogist||
In the previous article we left Big Bill in marital bliss after his wedding. We now move forward six years, when he was involved in a small slice of English history and as a result gained fame in coin collecting circles, just as his great grandson William George Jerrems ll was to do many years later in the United States.
In the early 1800s there was a coin shortage in England, so some merchants showed a lot of initiative by issuing their own coins or tokens. Big Bill (who was a tea and grocery merchant at the time) was one of them.
The following are extracts from an old book (see footnote for details) setting out the reasons for issue of the coins:
"With our present regular supply of Coins of all denominations, we can hardly conceive the state of the currency when for nearly thirty years, from 1787 to 1816 no Regal Silver Coins were struck in England for circulation. This was towards the end of the long reign of George III, when the Silver Coins were very much defaced, counterfeited, filed and clipped, and though many designs were produced, the Government neglected to provide any adequate supply of Silver cons for the country, so the trading classes issued Silver Shilling and other Token, most belong to the years 1811 and 1812. These included a coin with
Front: The words "WILLIAM JERREMS. Gainsbro." and a large illustration of a three-masted sailing ship.
Back: The words "ONE SHILLING. SILVER TOKEN. 1811.", and a large illustration of a windmill.
A photograph of the coin is shown at the start of this article; it was submitted by Jerry Jerrems V, who has one of the coins. Jerry inherited the coin from his grandfather "Jerry III" upon his death in 1968.
The coin was about the size of a dollar. For the sake of simplicity I will call it a "coin" although it is more precise to call it a "token" because it was not an official Government coin.
The Purpose of the Coin
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