Wednesday, January 14, 2015


We were always told that we had originally come from the Netherlands, although the only thing in favour of that theory was the fact that "Jaap" is a Dutch Christian name.

Now, here's something to keep to ourselves -  we've heard that the word "jaap" in Afrikaans is an offensive term, meaning a simpleton or a country bumpkin!

Well, we've done some research and found the following:
Microsoft Encarta:  jaap -( South African) - an offensive term for a person from a rural area who is regarded as unsophisticated or unintelligent by urban people.
Reader's Digest Universal Dictionary: jaap - (South African) also japie - a simple-minded, innocent person; a country bumpkin.
In Afrikaans, from Jaap - pet form of Jakob, Jacob.
A South African living in Scotland once told Fiona that "jaapie" is an Afrikaans word meaning monkey-like!

The earliest Jaap in our line was documented as a Japp - Walter, born around 1698 in Dalgety, Fife, and from then on there were many variations of the name. In fact, the family of his son Walter, who was a Jape, included both Jaaps and Japps, and the next generation included Robert, who was a Jope. From Robert onwards, that branch of the family were all Jopes. Our own line eventually settled for the Jaap spelling, perhaps after moving from Fife to the west of Scotland towards the end of the 18th century.

There are other variations of the name - Jap, Jopp, Jupp, Jappy, etc, and there's an interesting discussion on the origin in an excellent article published some years ago in the Scots Magazine.

“ What's Your Name?” CAN A JAPPY BE A JOPP? By Alasdair Steven

From Uddingston, Mr Jopp writes that his surname is not common in Scotland. I can find only one other, in Ayr, and half a dozen in Aberdeen. Mr Jopp's grandfather fits in, as he was born in Aberdeenshire. The link there goes back at least to 1773 when Lord Provost James Jopp presented the freedom of the city to Dr Johnson who was visiting in the course of his famous tour to the Hebrides with Boswell. He was much pleased with the tribute and wore the elegant Latin diploma on a riband in his hat when walking the city streets, as was then the custom.

George Black in his superb “Surnames of Scotland” considers Jopp a sharpened form of the personal name Job, and Reaney in his “British Dictionary of Surnames” adds that this could be a nickname for the Hebrew Job, a persecuted character in medieval plays. The surname is also thinly scattered throughout England, and Reaney's book gives many more variants than we have here and adds origins other than Job. He quotes, for instance, Matthew le Jope as from the now obsolete “joppe”, meaning “a fool”.

Jupp is a form rather more common in Scotland and, oddly enough, it is also by far the most frequent of the varied forms in London. If not from Job, this could come from a maker or carrier of jubbes, a Middle English word for a four-gallon cask holding liquor. Alternatively, in olden times men wore a lengthy woollen garment called a jube or jupe, and the surname may be stretched to cover a maker of these. However, four-letter names, often with varying vowel sounds, are particularly difficult to fit firmly into an unequivocal meaning.

Japp, the third variant, is easily the most numerous in Scotland, and I think the only one peculiarly Scottish. A David Jape or Yeap witnessed several charters at Scone in the early 13th century, and there are occasional occurrences of Jaip and Jap for five centuries following till finally there is an Ayrshire merchant, Matthew Jaap, whose name is given also as Jop, Today Japp occurs most often in Fife and Glasgow. It is the earliest form I have found and I have doubts about the attribution to the personal name Job.

The only Japp I have come across who has attained any celebrity is Alexander Hay Japp, born at Dun near Montrose in 1837. He was an author, editor and publisher who wrote indefatigably on many subjects sometimes under various aliases. He visited Robert Louis Stevenson at Braemar in 1881, where the first chapters of a new book, “The Sea Cook”, were read to him.He negotiated its publication as a serial in “Young Folks” and it subsequently became Stevenson's first great success as “Treasure Island”.

I found no one surnamed Japp within Aberdeenshire or Banffshire, but was enlivened by a fine flourish of the diminutive form Jappy all round the North-east coast and all the way up to Helmsdale and Caithness. Seventy years ago there were 29 heads of fishing families named Jappy in Buckie, east of the Burn, and at the time of writing there is exactly the same number of the name in the telephone directory for that small township. This illustrates the strong influence of fisherfolk's intermarriage on a surname's frequency. Surprisingly, in Scotland there are more people named Jappy than all the Jopps, Japps and Jupps put together.



An article in a German local newspaper of 1931 talked about the surname Jaap
 and described the Jaap Coat of Arms.

The writer had apparently spent a lot of time speaking to many Jaap families living in the western part of Germany. Generally "Jaap" was the normal spelling of the name, but he noted that in Holland "Jeep" and "Jeepen" had been found. He made mention of documents from 1631 which record that only four villages in that part of Germany had Jaaps living there, their surnames being given as "Jab", "Jaep", "Job" and "Jobs". In Mittelhorst, the writer was told that the Jaaps were originally from Bavaria, but he points out that his own uncle believed that they had come from Holland.

The article goes on to talk about the Coat of Arms. Someone had explained to him that red signifies love, blue means loyalty and gold is faith. He suggests that the twelve segments could represent the twelve apostles, the mitre meaning holy power and the breastplate worldly power.

Interestingly, the writer was planning to visit the "heraldic place" in Berlin to find out more. Did he do so? What did he discover? Are the Coat of Arms genuine? Or not?



Most people probably connect the name Jean Armour with the Ayrshire poet Robert Burns, for she became his wife in 1788. 

The Jean Armour who married into the Jaap family was born in Ayrshire, but Armour was quite a common name there, and we don't know of any connection. Jean, 1841-1911, already had a child Elizabeth when she married George Jaap, 1834-1908. In the 1880s they moved to Kirkintilloch with their six sons. Elizabeth, who was already married, had set up home in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.  

We understand that some of the Jaap boys went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1890s to work in Andrew Carnegie's Steel Works. (John, who was married by this time, was not one of them.) They returned to Kirkintilloch, but Robert and James went back to the USA and settled there with their families. Walter, John and Richard all remained in Kirkintilloch, and Andrew moved to Mossend, Lanarkshire. 

Today, the Scottish Jaaps have spread all over the world - USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Cayman Islands, etc, and of course there are still quite a number in the UK. Of the many Jaaps who have contacted us over the past few years, a fair number seem not to be connected to our own family. Surely there must be a link somewhere.



In 1837 Mormon missionaries came to the UK for the first time, and by 1850 had made more than 30,000 converts. A large number emigrated to Utah, and one ship, the 950 ton Sailor Prince made two special voyages taking new converts from Liverpool to New Orleans.

On the second voyage beginning on September 24th 1848, there were 341 passengers, and those included relatives of our Montgomery Japp, born 1764 in Fife. Montgomery (unusual name for a woman) had married Thomas Muir, born around 1758 and the emigrants were her son, who had become a Mormon in 1846 and his wife, their seven children, their son-in-law, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. The journey took 57 days, and from New Orleans they continued on to Utah.

We have the following from Gloria Emery, a descendant of Montgomery:
"Montgomery’s  great-grandson, David Muirie Hunter and his wife Sarah Jane Urie were part of what is called the “Hole in the Wall” wagon train – they were chosen by the Mormon leadership to go to southern Utah canyon country with a group of other Mormons to found a new town in the southern wilderness.  They went by ox and wagon, travelling through country that is remote and takes a 4-wheel drive vehicle today.  They had to cross the Colorado River.  In order the get the wagons down off the cliffs, they blasted a “hole” and lowered the wagons with ropes.  It was quite a feat.  They settled the little town of Bluff, Utah, then returned to Cedar City, Utah later."

We know of other families who went to Utah. Isabella Japp, born 1834 in Fife, married George Edgar, born 1830 and they emigrated with their thirteen children. And Elizabeth Jaap, born 1823, with her husband Robert Laird and their family, also settled in Utah. Before leaving this subject, we must add the following, which we believe was taken from Mormon archives:

In 1856, Brigham Young, the Mormon president, devised a plan whereby emigrants from Britain could come to Utah if they were willing to pull handcarts and walk the 1,300 miles from Iowa to Salt Lake City. Ellison Jaap, her husband Paul Gourlay and two small children were members of the Edward Martin Handcart Company. 

Unfortunately this group was late in beginning their trip in the fall of 1856, and met with disaster when winter storms trapped the emigrants along the Sweetwater River in Wyoming. Two hundred members of the company died of starvation and cold, before Brigham Young could send a rescue party of wagons from Salt Lake City. Ellison Jaap's two young children died. There are conflicting stories on the fate of Ellison. One report says she died in Wyoming, and the other states that she made it to Utah. A journal kept by one of the members of the Martin Company mentions the death of her seven month old child Margaret with the following entry: "15 August 1856, a child was buried this morning. The coffin had to be made, which delayed us until about eight o'clock."

There's another Jaap link to that ill-fated journey, for among their number was the mother-in-law of our Walter Jaap 1823-1878.


On the 3rd July 1883 there occurred in Glasgow what many believe was the worst accident ever on the River Clyde.

The launching of a ship was always a great event attracting many sight-seers, and this occasion was no exception. Some of the tradesmen were still working on the vessel when the launch took place, and others had come on board just to experience the thrill of it.

Going down the launching pad, the ship seemed to keel over, and on striking the water capsized and sank immediately. The death toll was 124 men and boys, and some families lost both father and son.

Among those drowned was a relative of ours, John Murrie. He was in his mid-twenties and on the 9th June the previous year he had married into our Graham family when he took as his wife Isabella Graham (1852-1936).

Although the subsequent enquiry failed to find any criminal negligence, recommendations were made which led to important safety regulations in shipbuilding.

The Scotsman's heritage website has further details.



From the Glasgow Herald, 8 May 1891 
James Jaap, 70 years of age, was charged with culpable homicide.  It was stated that on 4th April he assaulted his wife, Isabella Jaap, and killed her, in the house of Andrew Cuthbert, Richard Street, Anderston, Glasgow. 

Andrew Cuthbert, the first witness, said prisoner and his wife lodged with him.  On Saturday 4th April, Jaap came home between 5 and 6 o’clock, and went into the room to speak to his wife.  He came out to the kitchen, and ascertaining from the landlady that no money had been given to her, returned to his room, and, handing a sixpence to Mrs Jaap, said, “This is the way I have been robbed for the last ten years.”  Shortly afterwards witness was called into the room, when Mrs Jaap said, “James has kicked me.”  He saw blood flowing, and evidently Mrs Jaap was in pain.  Her son came into the house, but Mrs Jaap could not speak to him, and a doctor was sent for.  In the meantime Jaap had gone out, and on returning tried to rouse his wife, whom he said he had seen as bad before.  She was unable to speak to him.   

Mrs Cuthbert corroborated, and said that up to the time prisoner came home Mrs Jaap was in her usual health.   

Cross examined - Mrs Jaap had previously complained of being unwell, and of having lost a quantity of blood.   

Anderston Cross, Glasgow

Dr George Wright said when he went to the house he found Mrs Jaap dead.  The prisoner said his wife had been drinking, and died in a fit suddenly.  In his opinion the wound which resulted in death had been caused by violence. Dr Samuel Moore, who made the post-mortem examination, said the woman bled to death from a wound inflicted evidently by a kick.

For the defence several witnesses testified to the previous good character of the prisoner who was of a religious turn of mind.

The Jury found the prisoner guilty and recommended him to the leniency of the Court.

Lord Young said the prisoner in his statement to the doctor was simply lying, which was not a good feature of a religious man who endeavoured to preach to others.  Considering it was a momentarily although a brutal act for a man who had lived 70 years in the world, he would restrict the punishment to 18 months’ imprisonment.

The Court adjourned about 6 o’clock.

Now the important question is -
Is the murderer related to us?  We think we've found his birth record in the archives for 1822.  It shows his birthplace as Paisley, but we have no record in our tree of a Paisley connection.  However, we have a James Jaap born around 1824 - grandson of Walter Jaap (b. 1760 in Dalgety), but we know nothing about him.



Coltness Ironworks, Lanarkshire was the scene of an amazing rescue on 8th July 1909. 

Two steeplejacks were working at the top of a 180ft chimney stack when one of them was overcome by the fumes which were constantly being emitted from the mouth of the chimney. The man was lying unconscious on a 20 inch-wide platform, and his shocked workmate hurriedly made him safe by lashing him to the planking. Now he too was beginning to feel the affects of the gases and began the perilous descent. Fortunately an assistant on the ground, noticing that something was wrong, climbed up the ladder and helped the sick man to come down. 

David McWhirter an engineer at the Works hurriedly joined the gathering crowd at the foot of the chimney, and, despite the fact that he had had no experience of heights, started to climb the ladder, followed shortly afterwards by his assistant William McLelland. 

Here are extracts from David’s own account of the incident -
“Now occurred the part of the adventure which even yet, when I think of it, raises my hair on end - and that was the getting of the man round the platform to the lowering tackle at the end opposite to where he was lying. We had in fact, when we had unlashed him, to carry and drag him round two sides of the stack, and, as if that was not bad enough, I had to go backwards.

“As soon as we got to the tackle we fixed the steeplejack in a bosun’s chair, but the fixing was a mighty difficult task and not by any means free of danger.

“There was not enough room to allow our freight to pass between the platform and the chimney, and so there was nothing for it but to put him out over the edge of the platform and let him swing free.” 

David shouted the order to lower away and the steeplejack was safely brought down to earth. 

Both David and William were later commanded to appear at Marlborough House where King Edward presented them with the Edward Medal First Class - an honour which is bestowed for “Conspicuous Gallantry.”  

The connection between David McWhirter and the Jaap family is through the Armours. David’s wife was Ann Armour 1869-1935. 



During the Napoleonic Wars 1803/1815, a number of captured French soldiers were kept in a prisoner of war camp at Penicuik, Scotland. At the end of hostilities, four of them elected to stay on in Scotland. One of them, whose name was Champvraie, became an itinerant knife grinder, travelling around the lowlands.  

We know that he had a son who was described as a "gentleman's gentleman", working in Lanarkshire. The son met and married Elizabeth Arnott, a ladies' maid and their daughter Charlotte was born in 1827. Presumably Champvraie died, for Elizabeth married John Wilson and Charlotte became known as Charlotte Wilson.  

It's interesting to note that Charlotte's daughter, also named Charlotte 1865-1942, who married John Jaap1868-1954, forbade her daughters to speak of the French connection.  



We’ve mentioned elsewhere that we haven’t been able to link our Armour branch to Jean Armour the wife of the poet Robert Burns.   However we were interested  to learn that James McCandlish 1759-1806 was a close friend of Burns. Indeed the poet wrote that he was “the earliest friend except my only brother that I have on earth, and one of the worthiest fellows that ever any man called by the name of friend.” James’s wife Janet Smith 1768-1854 was one of “Mauchline Belles” immortalised by Burns in a poem where the following lines are found -

Miss Miller is fine, Miss Murkland’s divine, 
Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw, 
There’s beauty and fortune to get wi’  Miss Morton, 
But Armour’s the jewel for me o’ them a’. 

In 1806 James and Janet had a son whose name was to become famous in ecclesiastical circles. He was Robert Smith Candlish (his father had dropped the Mc prefix earlier). A professor of theology, he was one of more than 400 ministers who broke away from the Established Church to form the Free Church of Scotland. He served as Moderator of their General Assembly in 1861and the following year he became Principal of New College, Edinburgh.  There are churches named after him in Glasgow and in Canada. 

Robert’s son James Smith Candlish was also a professor of theology in the Free Church.                                                      
There were Methodists in the family too, and George Jaap 1820-1891 a coal miner is credited with introducing Primitive Methodism to the East End of Glasgow. Apparently the first meetings were held in George’s home.                            
Some of the Hardie branch of the family were Baptists, and after the first World War George born about 1898, who had been wounded and disabled in France, became a Baptist minister. In the 1950’s he was the Secretary of the Baptist Union of Scotland. 

Major Alan Kenneth Wilson is the Assistant Editor-in-chief and National Literary Secretary of the Salvation Army in Alexandria, Virginia, and is the author of “The First Dysfunctional Family.”  He’s a 3rd generation member of the Salvation Army, for it started with  his grandparents James Armour Jaap 1878-1942 and Annie Meechan 1882-1956, and continued through his parents Raymond Wilson and Sarah Jaap.
Many of the Jaaps served in the First and Second Wars and one in particular had an outstanding career - Captain Everett Austin Wood Jr.  He was a great grandson of Walter Jaap b.1823 who emigrated to the USA in 1869.

Everett was born on 31st July 1916 in Trinidad, Colorado. 

His wartime career began in 1940 when he joined the Army Air Corps, and after getting his wings became a flight instructor. After flying a number of patrol missions from Hawai, he led a flight of twenty-four B24s to Australia where he joined the 90th Bomb Group being assigned to the 321st Squadron. 

He carried out 32 missions and in 1943 returned to the USA. However in November of the following year he rejoined the Squadron and by the end of the war had flown a total of 66 missions. During that second tour he was often Command Pilot of the Squadron and usually flew as the instructor for new pilots. 

Everett was discharged on Pearl Harbour Day in 1946, and in 1967 retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of Lt.Col. 

A book article written some time ago says that - "Everett was not your archetypal military hero. Freckled, small of stature, with a prematurely receding shock of reddish hair, he had a friendly easy-going manner, an impish humour, and a cheerful disdain for the conventions of authoritarianism. Partly as a result of these proclivities, I suppose, he remained a Captain and never assumed the reins of his 321st Squadron. Wood and his wife Frances settled in Stillwater, Oklahoma where they raised a family of five." 

Everett died on 24th January 1987. 
If you know of any other notable names, please let us know and we'll add the details here.


INFORMATION WANTED ABOUT JOHN JAAP, a football player in the 1930s.

He was born on 12th August 1895 at Bellshill, Scotland, but moved to the USA with his family when he was a child. They settled in Pittsburgh. He began his football career in 1912 with amateur and semi-professional teams in the Pittsburgh area. After a spell with Philadelphia Field Club he returned to the minor leagues for a few years. In 1925 Bethlehem Steel FC signed him and he stayed there till it folded in 1930. He then went back home to Scotland where for one year he played for Heart of Midlothian FC. On returning to USA he played one season with the Newark Americans. After retiring he became a coach. In 1953 he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He died in May 1974 in Pittsburgh.

We would be very interested to know if he is connected to our family. Can someone help?



  1. Hello, I found your website while doing some research on my father's side mother. Her name was Mary Jane Jaap and her brother was John Jaap, the soccer player from Pittsburgh. Mary Jane was born 11/12/1896 in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland to William Jaap and Elizabeth (Mahloy) Jaap. They lived in Pittsburgh, PA. John Jaap played for Bethlehem Steel during his heyday. I have a photo of William & Elizabeth in their elder years, a photo of Mary Jane's brother, not sure if it's John or Charles in a Scottish military uniform, and a photo of John Jaap in his Bethlehem Steel uniform. I would be greatly interested in any info from the Scotland side. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and am now living in Carlisle, PA. I have very little info available here for almost all have passed on. Thank you, Karen Healy

  2. Hi my name is Derek jaap son of William jnr his father William mother Elisabeth