November 2011
Edition 80
Jerrems Family Newsletter
Nostalgic Trip Back to the Olde Country
Dear Donald,
We bring you the past - looking back to our forebearer's hometown.


Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian   Introduction 
In the two previous Parts of this article I described the town of Willingham (where our Jerrems ancestors lived from the 1720s to the early 1800s) in modern times and in 1851.

In this Part I will attempt to describe:

(a) the town in 1801, which is about the time that "Big Bill" Jerrems (my great great great grandfather) moved to the nearby town (as it then was) of Gainsborough,
(b) the village in 1720, when the first known Jerrems ancestors lived there,
I will then tell you about the Bingham family (descendants of the Jerrems family) who I have established still live in Willingham, give you some statistics about the town, and tell you about St Helen' Church's claim to sporting fame.

Willingham in 1805-skills and services.

To recap my description in the previous Journal, the occupations of the people in the town in 1851 were:
(1) Four dressmakers, an amazing total of four shoemakers and two cordonniers (shoe repairers) for the heavy-footed locals, two tailors, two grocers, one butcher,
(2) Fifteen farmers, one brickmaker, two bricklayers, two carpenters, two blacksmiths (plus apprentice), two publicans, two gardeners and a groundkeeper, two grooms.
(3) A rector, a school teacher and a surgeon.

By complete coincidence, the population of Willingham in 1805 was half the population of 1851. If (for argument's sake) we halve the number of shopkeepers and skilled workers shown above we still have a good distribution of services for Willingham and the surrounding farms.

The exception to this would have been the surgeon and the schoolteacher. I doubt that there would have been a surgeon in the town in 1801. My reasoning is that the surgeon in 1851 was only 38 and was born away from Willingham. I am in fact surprised that, with a wife, son and 3 servants, he was even able to obtain a living from tending to Willingham's population in 1851.

Similarly, there was no school in the town until 1818.

Willingham in 1805-education

Although there was no school in the town until 1818 it is very likely that some children were taught by educated locals (including mothers) in homes. A case in point is Big Bill, who must have received an education (possibly from his mother) because later he was a grocer. Another instance is the school teacher shown in the 1851 Census, who was born in Willingham in 1786.

Willingham in 1720
I have chosen this date because it is likely that William Jerom and Cecelia Futtit (our earliest Jerrems ancestors who have been located) were born in Willingham in the 1720s.

The rural economy in England was improving significantly in the 1700s, thanks primarily to the "Agricultural Revolution" which involved an increased use of land for cropping, replacing the use of land for pasture. The effects of this would have had a gradual beneficial flow-on to rural towns like Willingham.

Estimate of the population in 1720

The website of the UK Office for National Statistics has the following figures for the population of the UK: (a) in 1600 just over 4 million (b) in 1700 5 million (c) in 1801 8 million (d) in 1851 20 million.

Using the national population figures for 1700 and 1801, if we work back from the 1801 population of Willingham (233) we obtain a figure of about 160 for 1720. This still seems to me to be quite a strong base for a town in those days.
The social position of the Jerrems families
Indications are that the Jerrems families had a middle class background tracing back to the 1720s. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Big Bill would have been educated (see earlier), and that Big Bill's younger brother John had a large 120 acre farm. John's daughter Mary married George Bingham (see later), and they had a slightly larger farm. It is also quite likely that Big Bill had inherited his farm from his father, indicating that his father was reasonably well off.

Even though Big Bill left Willingham to live mainly in Gainsborough, at least he maintained his Willingham roots by keeping a farm there, and he still had "family" there. For instance we know that his parents lived there all their lives, his brother John lived there, John's widow Jane kept a farm there and they had two daughters (Mary and Jane Jnr). In the town there was also potential offspring from Big Bill's five aunts and sisters, also.

Another aspect was that the butcher in 1851, John Foottit, had a surname very similar to the maiden name of Big Bill's grandmother, Cecelia Futtit, so he would have been a distant relative also. His descendants lived in Willingham until at least the early 1900s.

These snippets of information encouraged me to find out whether the current town contains Jerrems descendants following down the female lines. I started with the name Bingham, the married name of Jane's daughter Mary Jerrems (I discovered her married name because Probate of Jane's will was granted to Mary, described as the wife of George Bingham).I looked through the old censuses and compared the names with the names of current residents on the websites relating to the town (see later).

I found a Willingham website reference to Sue Bingham, a member of the Willingham Historical Society and a member of the Parish Council. Sue confirmed by email that Jane Jerrems was an ancestor of her husband. Encouraged by this, I then looked through the old censuses and compared the names with the names of current residents on the websites relating to the town (see later).

The Bingham family
George Bingham was born in 1830 in nearby Stow, marrying Mary Jerrems in the early 1850s. His parents were John Bingham, born in 1799 in Corringham (8km/5 miles north of Willingham), and Sarah Glover born in 1802 in Willingham.

The 1851 Census described him as a Farmer of 46 acres, with his sister Rachel, a servant plus 2 farm labourers. The 1861 Census described him as a Farmer of 127 acres, changing to 144 acres in 1871 and 130 acres later.

George and Mary's children children were John (b1856), William (b1862), Mary Jane (b1864/5), Clara (b1869/70 and Henry (b1874).

According to Sue Bingham, Henry's children were John (a son being Sue's husband Richard) and George (a son being John). Both families have farms in the Willingham area, continuing the family tradition.

Are there other Jerrems descendants currently living in Willingham?

Encouraged by locating the Bingham family, I wondered if I would find more Jerrems family descendants in Willingham. I had in mind the discovery I made several years ago that two distant cousins (Anita Veale and Helen Mitchell) lived in virtually the same suburb in Melbourne and knew each other by sight, but did not know they were related (their ancestors had lost contact with each other almost a century earlier). I wondered whether the Binghams may be unwittingly in a similar position with someone they know in Willingham.

With this in mind I looked through the old censuses (particularly the 1851 and 1901 Censuses and the 1911 Census Summary) and compared the names in the censuses with the names of current residents shown on the websites relating to the town. I intended that this would also give me a feel for the population trends for the town since 1851.

By looking through the current Willingham websites for references to residents, I obtained a sample of 67 surnames. Taking into account that many of the surnames were carried by couples and children, I estimated that this could represent the surnames of half the current population.

Comparison of the surnames in the censuses with the website surnames showed that the Bingham family is the only known family dating back to the 1851 Census, with Dunderdale starting in the 1881 Census, Walker (a common name) in 1901, and Troop (the name of the owners of the Half Moon Inn) in 1911.

Another interesting statistic is that only 16 families from 131 families in the 1851 Census showed up 60 years later in the 1911 Census, and only one of those remaining 16 families (the Binghams) are currently in the town 100 years later again, unless (rather unlikely) there are other families not picked up in my "websites sample".

As impressive as it may be that that the Binghams trace back at least 160 years in Willingham on the paternal side, there is of course the additional factor that the Jerrems maternal line takes the Binghams further back to 1720 in terms of residency in Willingham. This amounts to almost 300 years!

I had been under the impression that English towns maintained their "old" families, but my statistics show that this has not been the case for Willingham.


Late Addition: The picturesque gravestone photo shown above was taken in the St Helenís graveyard by Sue Jerrems and shows the gravestones of Big Billís mother Mary Jerrems (on the left) and his sister-in-law Jane Jerrems (on the right). As mentioned previously, Janeís daughter Mary married George Bingham.

St Helen's Church's claim to sporting fame
Here is a piece of trivia about St Helen's Church at Willingham.

The Church has one particular claim to sporting fame. The rector (Edward Henry Julius Hawke, later 6th Baron Hawke of Towton), served at the Church from 1854 to 1875. The rector's oldest surviving son, Martin Bladen Hawke (later Lord Hawke, having inherited the baronetcy) was born in Willingham Rectory in 1860. He inherited a keen interest in cricket from his father, who was very involved with the Willingham Cricket Club and had a "great unfulfilled passion" for the sport.

Having played cricket at his early schools, Hawke made 19 known appearances for the Eton College team between 1876 and 1879 and captained Cambridge University club in 1885. From1879 to1881, he played for the York-based Yorkshire Gentlemen's Cricket Club. However he was especially noted for his captaincy of Yorkshire County Cricket Club from 1883 to 1910, the team winning the County Championship eight times under his leadership. He was president of that club for 40 years. More importantly he played in five Test matches for England and captained the team in four Tests, all of which were won. An outstanding administrator, he was president of the MCC and an England selector.

Perhaps Lord Hawke gained his interest in cricket by watching his father play with the Willingham Cricket Club?

Although the rector became a baronet in 1870 when his father died he stayed on as rector for a further 5 years, so he must have liked the town. St Helen's would have been unusual, having a member of the House of Lords as a rector!


This is the last episode of my dissertation about Willingham, until something interesting turns up. In the near future I will continue my story of Big Bill after he left Willingham.

Another Interesting Factoid about St Helen's:

Church records for Lincolnshire County show the marriage of William Jerom to Cecelia (Cis) Futtit on 29th July 1750 at St. Helen's Church in Willingham-by-Stow near the city of Gainsborough (church spire pictured above in header).

The Jerrems Family Ghost Shows Up Again
  Old Ray can't stay away from the Rich and Famous 
Below is an image provided by the paparazzi of Old Ray walking down the fairway with Tiger Woods at this month's Australian Golf Open in Sydney.

Old Ray, with his cap on crooked, seems chatty while Tiger is trying to concentrate. I wonder if Tiger knows Old Ray is really a ghost reveling in the spotlight.

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