My cousin Gordon sent me this family history tidbit in 2010. I like this story, so I am gonna go with it.
“Finally, about 30 years ago, Cousin John Jump, son of John Harold, came over for an extended visit and cleared it all up for me. John was a delightful guy, who was born about 1926 or so, and he was the consummate historian. John also had the advantage of having the time and financial resources to search out our family history. Plus, he had the ability to drive about England and do the tedious legwork of searching through records that were two days older than dirt itself. I too am a history nut and John and I hit it off right away. We ended up poring over his files together for the better part of an evening, with me taking copious notes as John shared the fruits of his labors with me.
Based upon John’s research, it would seem that our family originated in Iceland, having come first from Scandinavia, via Greenland. The oldest English records that John found, came from what is now Liverpool and the spelling of our ancestor’s surname was ʃompƒ (pronounced Yōmpf.) Our people settled in this area, having crossed over from Iceland in the 1200’s, and they weren’t always the most reputable citizens of the realm.
For the most part, early records indicate that the Jompf’s were mostly merchants and speculators, people who bought commodities (dried fish, grain, foodstuffs, etc.) and held them until the price went up. Then, they would sell the commodity for a profit, sometimes even selling it back to the person from whom the commodity was originally purchased, but always at a higher price. Unfortunately, in the 1200′s to 1300’s, this practice was illegal, as the church felt speculators profited on the misfortunes of their fellow-man. So, some of the earliest records of our ancestors involve their being placed in stocks for days at a time, being hanged, being drawn and quartered and, in one case I saw, burned at the stake (must have really pissed somebody off with that transaction.)
With a reputation as a speculator and the law at your heels, you probably can’t stay in one place very long. So, our ancestors became somewhat transient. Records show that, as the Jompfs migrated east, they continued to be merchants and entrepreneurs, rather than laborers and farmers. Also, as they moved into central England, the spelling and pronunciation of their name began to change. The pronunciation changed to “Jump” as the Nordic surname became more Anglicized and the spelling varied from Jompf, to Jomp, to Jump and even Jumpe for a variety of reasons.
The English language has only had a definite system of spelling rules since 1600 or so. Consequently, identical English surnames are found with multiple spelling variations. Also, since Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, it’s not uncommon to find one person referred to by several different spellings of their surname in different records. And, of course, it didn’t help when even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names.
In any event, regardless of spelling or pronunciation, our distant ancestors ended up concentrating in an area that is now known as South Yorkshire, in England (heck, we even have a village there, in the civil parish of Barnsley, named Jump.) It is here that our ancestors put down roots, raised and buried families, laughed, cried, worked, played, loved, hated and experienced all of the things that are a part of life. It’s also where events would unfold that, at the turn of the 20th century, would cause Arthur Wilkinson Jump to leave his ancestral home and, with his wife and 9 of his 11 children, move to the United States to start life over.”