Among some documents given to me recently by Stewart Valdar were two letters sent by a G. Hunt, Boot and Shoe Maker of Notting Hill, to Messrs. Jermy Brothers of Liverpool, in September 1896.
The first states:
15 Sept 1896
As there is a prospect of considerable property coming to a person of the name of Jermy or their descendants I shall be much obliged if you will send me the pedigree of your family to the earliest date and I shall be glad to have the address of other members of your family who can date back to 1600. This matter has been well searched up by solicitor and counsel (myself bearing the expenses). Their opinion is we have a good case as much fraud having been traced. The property referred to is situated in Norfolk. I shall be glad to have the fullest particulars you can supply and I shall be pleased to reply to any questions from you.
I am Dear Sirs
The Jermy Brothers obviously replied to him because he sent a second letter:
17 Sept 1896
The statute has barred every attempt to eject the holders of this property. We find neither produced fraud, but merely spoke of fraud existing. This property was left by William Jermy in 1751 and we want to find the nearest male relation in 1792 the date of his widows death, his line having become extinct we have to go back to his great grandfather. I first took up this matter in the interest of a poor family in this neighbourhood who considered themselves entitled, but after investigation we found they were not and having spent so much and finding the property had been so fraudently dealt with I resolved to find the right person if possible. We are making good progress and shall be thankful to receive the assistance of your papers, also those of your relatives.
P.S. Stanfield Hall is part of the property
I am Dear Sirs
(I have added some punctuation and made a couple of spelling changes, but as can be seen from the photographs below, the text is as written by G. Hunt. It is interesting to note that it was possible to send a letter to Liverpool from London on one day and be able to receive a reply in time to write a second letter two days later.)
Could this G. Hunt have been the source of all the Jermy family traditions about documents being requested and subsequently lost? As will become apparent later, it is clear that he was also contacting other Jermy families around the country - presumably with the aid of county or town directories.
After much fruitless searching, I eventually found him on Ancestry.com in the 1901 census by using the "Hunt" surname and "Notting Hill" keywords. He is shown as Gedaliah Hunt, aged 58, a shoemaker living at 6 Clarendon Place, Kensington. There is no family living with him, but his birth place is given as Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset. With this information it was then possible to locate him and his family in the 1891, 1881 and 1871 census at the same address in Kensington, as well as in the 1861 census of Wambrook, Dorset and the 1851 census of Shepton Beauchamp, where he is living with his parents. Fortunately, the relevant parish register of Shepton Beauchamp has been transcribed and made available on the internet. This, and consultation of the online birth, marriage and death indexes have enabled a more complete picture of his family to be established.
He was baptised on 6 January 1843 at St Michael, Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, the son of Joseph and Sarah Hunt. Joseph Hunt was then a miller aged 47. The 1851 census shows Gedaliah as a scholar, and a cordwainer on the 1861 census. He married Sarah Dinham in Mar 1867 in Marylebone, Middlesex and by April 1871 he was established as a boot maker at 6 Clarendon Place, where he was to remain for at least 25 years. Gedaliah and Sarah Hunt had two daughters and three sons. He died on 24 December 1915 in Hammersmith, and his estate was left to his widow Sarah Hunt. Alas, there is no mention of any Jermy documents in his will - which was dated 19 March 1890, so it may have been written before he became interested in the Jermy saga himself.
Gedaliah Hunt stated the motivation for sending out the letters of September 1896 was following up on some research he had done for a poor family in this neighbourhood. I have yet to discover which Jermy family were living nearby, but perhaps they visited him to get their boots mended? Presumably they were not suitable marriage material for his children?
Among some of the other documents belonging to Stewart Valdar was a transcript he had made in 1955 of a Jermy pedigree owned by Jack Jermy of White House Farm, Woodbastwick, Norfolk (25 years before the above letters came into his possession). The pedigree traces the Jermy family from Thomas Jermy of Felmingham, who died on 4 February 1503, to William Jermy of Bayfield who died on 21 January 1752 - the last of the old family.
Attached to the pedigree was a printed label and stamp post marked 22 July 1897. The label was addressed to Mr W Jermy, St Faiths, Norwich, and from G Hunt, General Draper, Hosier, Haberdasher and Boot and Shoe maker of 6 & 7 Clarendon Place, Clarendon Road, Notting Hill!
It is clear therefore that Gedaliah Hunt was continuing to contact members of the Jermy family throughout the country 10 months after he had sent the above letters to the Jermy Brothers of Liverpool - who, incidently, were Joseph and Sydney Jermy, manufacturing upholsterers, whose parents had moved to Liverpool from London around 1885.
In a letter that Jack Jermy sent to Stewart Valdar in 1955, he recalls his father telling him about many Jermy families visiting local churches to search through the parish registers, in an attempt to prove their connection to the old Jermy family, in the hope of claiming the estates. It is remarkable to realise that the Rev. Thomas F Boddington, the vicar of Wroxham and Salhouse, Norfolk, extracted all the entries relating to the Jermy family from the parish registers of Wroxham and Salhouse in the late 1890's, and these were subsequently published in 1905. Were these entries extracted by him as a consequence of Gedaliah Hunt writing to the Jermy families in the area, inducing them to search for their ancestors in the nearby parish registers? It would certainly appear so.
Despite all the frantic searching that was evidently going on, I have been unable to find any court cases relating to claims against Stanfield Hall in the late 1890's to early 1900's, or any newspaper reports about them, so I assume that the entire plan collapsed - perhaps with the death of Gedaliah Hunt, and the loss of all the documents that the various Jermy families had sent to him to help press their claims?
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