|Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian||
Discovering Another Branch on the Family Tree
This article is part of the "Remember Me" series.
It is appropriate for me to write about Edwin Jerrems because we now have a reader of the Jerrems Journal (Helen Mitchell) who is a great grand- daughter of Edwin.
Sources of Information
My main sources of information come from Helen and my own research.
Who was Edwin Jerrems?
Edwin was the eldest son of Robert Cane Jerrems, the "founding father" of the Melbourne branch of the Jerrems family, being a member of the Jerrems family which migrated to Victoria in the 1850s and settled in Richmond. His mother was Alice Rigg, who was born in 1850 in County Cumberland, England (on the Scottish border) and her Scottish parents were Thomas and Agnes Rigg (nee Carter). Robert and Alice were married in 1870.
Robert and Alice had 6 children, Edwin (1871-1929), Edith Alice (1873-???), William George (1875-1937), Gertrude Amelia (1877-1951), Henry Herbert (1881- 1928) and Alfred Robert Cain (1883-1940).
Edwin's father Robert died in 1888 (when Edwin was 17) in Richmond and his mother Alice remarried in 1896, to James Alexander Newlands (b1829 in Scotland, father William Newlands). James died in Richmond in 1905, aged 76, leaving Alice a widow once again. She died on 15th April 1919 at home in Union Street, Richmond.
Edwin's Marriage and Children
Briefly, Edwin married Matilda Amelia Thomas in Richmond in 1896. They had 3 girls, Gertrude Amelia Jerrems (b1898) and Victoria Alice Ruby Jerrems (known as Ruby) b1900, who I will talk about later, and Elizabeth Maud (b&d 1899, aged 21 days).
They also had a son Edwin Thomas (b1896 in Carlton West Hospital) who apparently died in the same year (listed in Victorian BD&M records as "Edwards Thomas Jerrems").
Edwin's Wife Matilda
Matilda was born in Diamond Creek, a small town situated in hilly country 25 km north west of Melbourne CBD.
The busy and crowded suburb of Richmond would have provided quite a contrast to Diamond Creek for Matilda. Diamond Creek was a small village in the 1850s, with small rural holdings predominating in the area, and a small gold mine nearby, but then it received a large boost when the Diamond Creek Gold Mine opened close to the village in 1863. Over the next 50 years the mine developed into a major local industry, employing up to 200 men at its peak, going down to 300 metres and drawing 5000 ounces of gold a year.
A post office, Methodist church and a school were established by the year after the mine opened. By 1893 in addition to the church and school there were 6 stores, a bank agency and a police station, with a town population of 200 (the small town population indicating that the town serviced a large rural population, including people on farms and orchards). Curiously for such an active town the railway was not extended from Eltham to Hurstbridge via Diamond Creek until 1912, before that (for instance in 1893), "public" transport was limited to 2 coaches per day to Heidelberg, 15km to the south.
It is interesting to surmise how Matilda met Edwin and how she adapted to city life in Richmond.
Edwin's Occupation and Addresses
(1)1903 Electoral Roll 3 Berry Street, Richmond, Painter (2) 1909 Electoral Roll 78 Bridge Road, Richmond, Painter (3) 1914 Electoral Roll 2 Vere Street, Richmond, Painter (4) 1919 Electoral Roll same as for 1914.
Matilda's addresses were the same, except for the 1909 Electoral Roll where she was listed at 243 Gore Street, Fitzroy, 4 km from Richmond.
The Melbourne suburb of Richmond played an important role for the Jerrems family. I outlined the history of Richmond in the February 2010 Journal. It was a suburb of extremes, ranging from dingy cobbled lanes to mansions (see photos). When Edwin's's father Robert died there in 1888, leaving Alice at the age of 38 to bring up 6 children aged between 5 and 17 this would have placed Alice in a very difficult financial position. Although Edwin would have finished his training as a painter when his father died in 1888, and would have been able to earn an income, only his sister Edith Alice (b1873) would have been old enough to work. As a result Edwin would have been the major wage earner in the family, a heavy responsibility for a teenager.
The effect on Edwin's four other siblings of their father's early demise could have been that they had to leave school as early as was legally allowed.
Two of Edwin's brothers were also shown as painters living in Richmond in the Electoral Rolls (Alfred, painter in 1909, 1914, 1919), Henry (painter in 1903, 1909), so it is possible that Edwin trained two of his younger brothers as painters and the 3 brothers worked together. This would have relieved his mother of the considerable responsibility of finding a trade for those brothers.
It is in fact possible that Edwin's third brother (William George) was illiterate because his name was spelled "Jerram" on his Army Enlistment Application. His occupations (labourer and cleaner) were also consistent with this.
Life as a House Painter
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