Stainton St John Baptist
October 2009 Jerrems Family Newsletter
Looking Forward to Looking Back
Dear Donald,
Once again Windmill Chaser Ray in Sydney Australia has submitted a featured story on Big Bill Jerrems (born 1782). Big Bill is the great great great grandfather of many us.

This time our Quixotic Ray actually found Big Bill's windmill!

Reminder: If you have a digital Christmas greeting to send out to the Jerrems family based on three continents, get it scanned and send it to me.

We love those old family cards from decades gone by.

Wedding Bell News - 1805
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?

This is a matter of complete conjecture. Quite a few spouses of the Jerrems families lived in villages near Gainsborough (for instance Willingham and East Retford) where it would have been logical for them to meet in Gainsborough while shopping or attending social functions. However, the closest major market town for the residents of Newball was Lincoln, whereas the closest market town to Willingham-By- Stow was Gainsborough (where Big Bill set up his merchant business). In the case of Big Bill and his bride-to-be one can only surmise that the bride and groom met through mutual friends or at church functions.

Why get married on a Thursday?

Firstly, how do I know it was a Thursday? I have found a website which tells you the day of the week for any date. I looked up the day out of curiosity, expecting to find that the wedding had been held on a weekend, the usual custom these days. But once again there is a simple explanation. It did not matter to farmers whether a wedding took place during the week, in fact it was probably the best time so that they could return home by the weekend to go to church at St Helen's Church in Willingham-By-Stow and attend any social functions.

What did people wear to the wedding?

It is tempting to draw on movie films of this period, for instance those based on Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. These books and films conjure up pictures of weddings and other functions with the men dressed in top hats and smart suits and ladies decked out in fancy hats, lace and hooped dresses. The reality was probably quite different. The Big Bill's bride would no doubt have worn a fancy wedding dress with all the trimmings, made specially by a herself or members of her family, and wore or carried "something borrowed, something blue".

Big Bill, as an up-and-coming young Gainsborough shopkeeper, may have sported a new suit with a cravat (ties did not come into vogue until later). But the Jerrems families probably came from modest farming stock and everybody else (including the children) would have merely been wearing their practical "Sunday best", with stout shoes or boots designed to withstand muddy conditions. The women would probably have worn bonnets, lending colour to the proceedings. Being winter, there were probably no flowers.

When you look at the photo of the Church use your imagination to picture the scene after the wedding ceremony, with everybody spilling excitedly out of the Church and onto the driveway area in front of the Church to form an arch for the bride and groom to walk through. Children would have been rushing around, and perhaps a stray dog joined in the festivities.

Where did Big Bill and Elizabeth live after the wedding?

Big Bill is listed in an 1805 Gainsborough directory as "Jerrems & Metcalfe, Grocers and Tea Merchants", so it is clear that Big Bill already lived in Gainsborough and the couple would have set up house there. This is confirmed by the fact that their first child Ann was born in Gainsborough in 1806.

Big Bill and Elizabeth went on to have 11 more children, seven of whom survived childhood.


A lot of the genealogical information in this article was provided by Dorothy Pearson, President of the Gainsborough and District Heritage Association, which started in 1994.


Now we know what wedding the residents of Stainton- By-Langworth who happened to be near St John the Baptist's Church on Thursday, 24th January 1805 would have seen.

St Helen's Church in Willingham-By-Stow
  St Helen's Church in Willingham-By-Stow
Big Bill Does His Bit for King and Country
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

A person presenting the coin at Big Bill's shop was entitled to receive goods of value up to one shilling, quite a lot of money in those days. You have probably seen a "token" system used at some stage in stores. It is similar in principle to a gift voucher.

No doubt it had the additional advantage of attracting business for Bill. Obviously he saw the idea as being commercially viable despite the cost of production of the coins, including the cost of the silver.

The Reasons for the Illustrations on the Coin

The reason for the sailing ship is clear to me. It is a three masted square rigger which would have been typical of the ships which were employed in the tea trade at that time. I have some doubts as to whether a ship of this size would have actually sailed up the Trent River to Gainsborough in 1811 because the river was not very deep (it was deepened later).

Perhaps Bill got the idea from E. Sanders, who had issued a token in the same year with a similar ship on one side and a three arched stone bridge, representing a notable local landmark built across the river at Gainsborough.

The reason for the windmill is less clear. There were many windmills in the Gainsborough area but none (as far as I can ascertain) which typified Gainsborough. My theory is that it symbolised the grocery trade because grocers relied on milled grains for a lot of their stock (eg wheat and corn flour). There is no record of Bill owning a mill, nor as a retail grocer with his shop in Gainsborough's main shopping street is it likely that he would have owned one.

The account handed down to Jerry was that Big Bill had a linen shipping company. This would also fit in with the use of the ship and windmill on the coin, so this is another possibility.

Big Bill issues a Second Coin

The coin must have been a success because the next year Bill issued another one, in conjunction with three other people. We do not have a photo of this coin so we have to rely on the description in the book, where it is described as having on one side the words "A POUND NOTE WILL BE PAID FOR 12 OF THESE, PAYABLE BY E. DAWSON, MANSFIELD; W. JERREMS, GAINSBOROUGH; J HEDLEY, LYNN, NORFOLK; H MORGAN, LONDON,1812." and on the other side as having the words " SILVER TOKEN FOR Xll PENCE" and an illustration of the Arms of the City of Bristol within a Garter, inscribed DOLLAR SILVER, with a crest above the Garter.

I must admit I am rather lost on some of the terms quoted, particularly the word "Garter". I thought a garter was an item of clothing worn by a lady above the knee, a rather risqué thing to have on a coin at a time when showing an ankle was considered to be the absolute limit. No doubt our historian Chuck Keller would say that is an heraldic term.

Turning to the names on the second coin, the person referred to last, H. (ie Henry) Morgan of London, minted that token, just as he minted a number of other tokens. Hoping to come up with something of great significance I then checked the locations of Mansfield and Lynn, where Dawson and Hedley lived. The towns of Mansfield and Lynn are quite a distance from Gainsborough so I am none the wiser as to why they joined William on the token. Dawson was the Mansfield postmaster. A significant factor may have been that the printing costs would have been shared.

Nobody could say that Bill's contribution to coin history was only a token effort.

Good work Big Bill, we are proud of you!

Footnote: The book quoted is "Lincolnshire NOTES AND QUERIES" (the author is not known, the book was published in 1891). The descriptions of the coins, taken from that book, originate from Boyne "Silver Tokens of Great Britain and Ireland,1866". Thanks to Dorothy Pearson of Gainsborough for providing the extracts.


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