Origin of Bethnal Green Jermys


James Jermy (1836 - 1929)


As is described in the Memorandum of the Jermys provided by Harriet Esther Payne (nee Jermy) in her application for admittance to the Huguenot Hospital, and the details of which are, to a certain extent, confirmed by the documents contained in the pocket book of Joseph Jermy, manufacturing upholsterer of Liverpool, the ancestry of of the Bethnal Green Jermy family is as follows:

John Jermy, a worstead weaver, was born in 1706 in Norwich and subsequently married Barbara Claxton on 22 July 1726 at St John, Lakenham. Their son John was baptised at St Giles, Norwich on 29 May 1743. He was also a worstead weaver, who had worked for and obtained a testimonial from Philip Stannard (1703 - 1777), who was a successful Norwich worstead weaver who had built up a large worstead textile business between 1728 and 1769. John married Frances Ward by licence (the daughter of Richard Ward and Sarah Le Neve of Wymondham) on 30 March 1771 at All Saints, Norwich.

John and Frances Jermy lived in Litcham, Norfolk during the first few years of their marriage, where they had at least three children baptised in the local parish church: John (14 October 1772), Peter (7 June 1774) and Sarah Le Neve Jermy (8 May 1775). This appears to be the first time Peter has been used as a christian name in any Jermy family, so presumably it originated from either the Ward or Le Neve families. John was a Freeman of Norwich in 1773, as his father had been previously. The family subsequently moved to Kingston, Surrey, where John died in August 1799 and Frances was buried in Long Ditton, Surrey on 30 May 1803. It is clear that John was a successful business man since he left the interest from 800 Stock, 100 in 3 per cent Consols and 700 in 3 per cent reduced and a freehold dwelling house situated in Thames Street, Kingston, Surrey to his wife Frances for the rest of her life, and then to their children. It is interesting that one of the witnesses to his will was a Benjamin Jermy of the 26th Regt of Light Dragoons. I know the ancestry of this Benjamin Jermy, but as yet am unable to connect his family to that of John's.

I do not have any further details of the children John or Sarah Le Neve, but Peter married Mary Ann Fryer on 29 September 1799 at St George the Martyr, Southwark, and they had at least four children born between 1802 and 1810. William was born on 8 June 1902 in Wanstead whilst his mother was visiting, Peter born around 1804, Edward around 1808 and James circa. 1910. Peter senior was a warehouseman living at 19 Princes Court, Bethnal Green in August 1822 when the Indenture for Apprenticeship as a narrow weaver for his son Peter was signed. Nothing more is known of this younger Peter Jermy. Peter Jermy senior died in late April 1824, and was buried in the Gibraltar Row Burial Ground. This cemetery was used mainly by Protestant dissenters.

William Jermy, the eldest son of Peter and Mary Ann Jermy, was recorded as a paper stainer in 1841, a butcher in 1851 and a house proprieter in 1861. He married Ann Davies on 17 April 1827 at St John Hackney. They had eight children, including Harriet Esther who was born on 15 March 1846 in Bethnal Green. She was the first of the Jermy family to apply for admittance to the Huguenot Hospital. William died on 7 September 1862, and in his will, in which he is described as a "Gentleman", his effects are valued at under 1000. Peter and Mary Ann's third son (after Peter junior) was Edward Jermy, who married Sarah Prince on 2 July 1837 at St Mary Haggerston, Shoreditch. They had at least four children, whose descendants are living today.

The fourth son was James, born around 1810, who married Mary Ann Wright around 1836. He was a butcher who lived in Limehouse and Bethnal Green. They had seven children, including the eldest James Jermy who was born on 9 October 1836, and who subsequently became the North American Salvation Army pioneer. The fifth child was Joseph who was born on 15 September 1847, and who became an upholsterer who moved to Liverpool. It was he who owned the pocket book containing the Jermy documents.


James Jermy junior (born 9 October 1836) was a cabinet maker when he married Ann Coleman on 25 December 1856 in St Andrew, Bethnal Green. Their first five children were born in an around Shoreditch and Bethnal Green: Ann Elizabeth, born 12 October 1857, James Walter, born 7 July 1859, Rosina Martha, born 12 August 1864, Arthur Jermy, born 14 August 1867, and George Samuel who was born on 10 August 1869. On 12 June 1870 the family sailed on SS Prussian from Liverpool to Quebec. They initially settled in Hamilton, Ontario and then moved on to St Catharines, where their daughter Florence Violet Mary was born on 29 July 1871. By September 1872 they had moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where James established the Salvation Army Mission.

By 1875 James was trying to keep five mission stations running as well as supporting his family, apparently without any assistance from William and Catherine Booth in the UK. In the end it became too much and the family returned to London in October 1875. He is recorded as a draper and milliner in the 1881 to 1911 census returns. He was a member of the Draper's Company, and in later life received a small pension from them.

Before his ground-breaking visit to North America, James had been a lay preacher associated with William Booth from the beginnings of the Salvation Army movement in the east end of London. Upon his return he continued his preaching as a "soldier" of The Clapton Congress Hall Corps in London, and is mentioned in the autobiographies of William and Catherine Booth. After two stays in the Huguenot Hospital, James died on 18 June 1929, aged 92 and was buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

Of James & Ann's sons, James Walter seems to have had the most varied life, being a ship's steward and later chef in the mercantile marine service around 1881. A furniture dealer in 1889, and a book seller and curio dealer around 1901. He married Sophie Guymer in 1889 and they had five children. He was in the miltary during WWI, and a general dealer during 1930. He was admitted to the Huguenot Hospital in 1936, and died on 11 December 1948.

The second son Arthur Jermy was a dealer in antiques and books, as well as a violin maker and portrait artist.

The third son George Jermy was a bookseller with a shop at 33 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney.