I was born on the island of Barbados in the West Indies and lived there until the age of 19 when I travelled to the UK to study at Loughborough University. As I was growing up, I never thought about my ancestors beyond my grandparents. Between university terms, I spent some time with my father’s 1st cousin, Dr George Emtage and his wife Kathleen. Aunt Kath and her son Laurence introduced me to some family research which they had conducted in the Barbados Archives. They had traced the family in Barbados back to John Emptage (1725-1798), with the first official record being his marriage to Elizabeth Stafford on September 10th, 1764 in the parish of St James. I noticed the inclusion of the ‘P’ in the spelling of John’s surname but paid little attention to it.
Years earlier, I recall my father, Charles Lawrence Peterkin Emtage (1926-2007), recounting an experience of his, while travelling, in which an immigration official misspelled his surname by inserting the letter ‘P’. I’m not sure, but perhaps this helped to inspire Dad to investigate our possible origins in the UK. He spoke to a friend of his from Faversham (Kent) who recommended an investigator (Duncan Harrington), from Canterbury, to research the possible English origins of the Barbados Emtage family. It was from the results of this effort that I first learned of the possibility that the ‘Bajan’ John Emptage (1725-1798) was the convicted thief of a mahogany tea chest and who had then been sentenced at the Old Bailey to transportation with his last residence in England being Newgate Prison.
I also met with Joan Emtage (from Warwickshire) who provided me with copies of family trees and letters from Gorgianna Emtage (1872-1965). It was Georgianna’s brother, George Samuel Emtage (1859-1938) who ran away to sea and ended up marrying Maude Anne Ragg in New Zealand, thereby originating a whole new clan of Emtage islanders.
In the early 1990’s I moved to Chelmsford (Essex) to work as a Technical Specialist for Ford Motor Company. One day in the local library I came across microfilm genealogy records (I believe generated by the Mormons but I am ashamed to confess that I did not record the proper reference). It was in this data that I found Emptage (and other similarly sounding) names in Kent going back to about 1525.
At about the same time, my family and I made a day trip to Broadstairs in Thanet. When ordering lunch in a restaurant on the beach front I was told to give my name and that they would bring the food to us when it was ready. I gave my surname and then immediately started to spell it (because no one has ever heard of it) but the server said “no need”. When I saw what she had written down I noticed the extra “P”. At that point I began to realize that I had actually gone ‘home’, to the one place in the world where the sound of my surname was NOT unusual.
In the early days of the public internet I did make email contact with couple of EmPtage’s but nothing came of it. I was also hampered by the absence of good software for capturing family tree data. The introduction of the Ancestry software package and then the Ancestry.com website made all the difference to me, especially in conjunction with the Family Search on-line records. I started to digitize data from hard copy family trees that had come into my possession and learned the importance of documenting sources carefully. It was about this time that I discovered the Emptages of Thanet website and made contact with Susan Morris.
My hobbies include my work at Ford, badminton, running and, of course, family research.
John Emptage (1725-1798) and Elizabeth Stafford (?-1787)
John Emptage (1766-1845) and Elizabeth Frizzel (1758-1821)
Thomas Emtage (1803-1846) and Sarah Ann Jemmott (?-?)
John Dixon Emtage (1838-?) and Margaret Jane Archer (?-?)
Robert Percy Emtage (1861-?) and Lillian Irving Edwards (?-?)
William Percy Emtage (1887-?) and Marion Sybil Peterkin (1897-1926)
Charles Lawrence Peterkin Emtage (1926-2007) and Olive Mary — (Living)