This website seeks to publish our research, to celebrate the history of the Emptage and Emtage family and through it, to make connections with other Emptage and Emtage descendants.
We have identified four trees: three in England and one in Barbados. Of the English ones, two begin in the Isle of Thanet, one in the Isle of Sheppey, both isles being off the north east coast of Kent. The Isle of Thanet is barely identifiable on today’s maps as the two rivers which made it an island have silted up to the point that they are little more than streams and the land just looks to be part of Kent. However, the Isle of Sheppey is still clearly an island with access by road and rail bridges.
Descendants of the two Thanet trees emigrated to the USA and Canada. Descendants of the Sheppey tree began an off shoot tree in Grimsby, a fishing port further north on the east coast of England. A descendant of the Barbados tree established the Emtages in New Zealand.
Over time, several Barbadian branches dropped the p from the spelling of the name but, regardless of whether the p is included or not, our DNA Study which tests the DNA of direct male descendants of all four trees proves that we all have the same common ancestor. His origins are, so far, lost in the mists of time but we always hope that we will find the paper trail which leads to him.
Whilst the four trees all began in the mid 1700s, by studying the parish registers, we have taken one of the trees back to the baptism of John Emptage in 1625 in St Peter in Thanet.
Our earliest mention of an Emptage, spelt Emptiache, is in a will dated 1489. The testator lived in St Peter in Thanet. He named John Emptiache of Thanet as a trustee for some land which he owned. Clearly John Emptiache was an adult and so we know that the Emptages were in St Peter by 1489 at least.
And so it is that we consider St Peter in Thanet to be the ancestral home of the Emptages and, in 2018, held our first Gathering there. Unfortunately, the 2020 Gathering had to be cancelled because of the covid pandemic but we hope to hold the second one in Thanet in 2022. The Gathering is open to all Emptage and Emtage descendants.
Through our Wills Project we have found many more Emptages in Thanet and we are seeking to identify their family groupings. It’s not easy and becomes especially frustrating when the testator refers to his wife or children without naming them. It is like doing a jigsaw puzzle without knowing how many pieces we’re meant to have and without the box with the picture on the lid. Actually, all family history research is rather like that.
We also have other early Emptages elsewhere in Kent and also in London and we have several early mini trees which we hope we will be able to link together, someday.
One of the descendants of the London tree, John Emptage, was baptised in 1725. We think it was he who stole a tea chest and was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London to transportation to America. Research has been going on for many years in an attempt to prove or disprove the theory that it was this John who subsequently became the head of the tree in Barbados.
Sometimes, in the pursuit of our ancestors and the process of entering names, dates and places on tree charts, it is easy to forget that our ancestors were more than a list of facts but were individuals, living their lives just as we do today, to the best of their ability, with hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows, with all the cares and concerns which we, as humans, experience.
And so we want to learn as much as we can about our ancestors and their lives and, when able, to set them in the context of what was happening at the time.
We aim not just to provide a list of names, dates and places but to tell the story of the characters and the events which shaped their lives. We want to bring our ancestors alive on our pages.
Many members of the Emptage family were seafarers, from master mariners to Royal Navy sailors, the merchant navy, fishermen and lifeboat men. But there were also soldiers, yeomen and agricultural workers. There was a mixture of characters, from those steadily going about their work and family lives to those who faced difficulties in the workhouse. Among our ancestors were pioneers, criminals and heroes, at least one vicar and an agricultural labourer transported to Tasmania and a bigamist.
We believe that the family historian must ‘tell it like it was’, unembellished and seeking neither to distort nor to sweep unwelcome truths under a rug. Neither do we seek to judge the actions of those who went before. We were not there. We were not living their lives. Of course, there are times when newly discovered facts inconveniently serve to debunk long-held family legends and myths, as happens with at least one event in our history.
Research of family history is never complete. There’s always another little nugget around the corner just waiting to be found, examined, puzzled over. It may prove to be just a worthless nugget or maybe a semi-precious one but sometimes it proves to be made of gold which illuminates all the rest.
Check the Index to see if we have published any articles which include the name of the person in whom you are interested. As so many first names were repeated across the generations, when known, the year of baptism or circa year of birth is noted in brackets or, if it is a person named in a will, the date of death/probate of the testator. Click on the name to see the articles.
Whilst this website is not meant to be a substitute for people doing their own research, it may lead people to some connections which they may not have otherwise made. If you have connections to the Emptage / Emtage family, please contact us and we can discuss where you fit in and how we can incorporate your own research.