Research, luck and a little help sends 140-year-old Bible home

A 140-year-old Bible is back with its original family in England after decades across the Atlantic

  • Aug. 17, 2015 3:00 p.m.
Oak Bay Rotarian Perry Bamji and his wife

Oak Bay Rotarian Perry Bamji and his wife

Jennifer Blyth

Oak Bay News

It took considerable research, a healthy dose of luck and some divine intervention, but a 140-year-old Bible is back with its original family in England after decades across the Atlantic.

Perry Bamji, a member of Oak Bay Rotary, and his wife, Annamaria, came across the Bible 40 years ago when they were newly married and setting up their home in the English town of Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Searching the local auction for furniture, Annamaria, an art historian, was tempted to purchase an “odds and ends” box of books, contents unknown.

Tucked inside, in addition to two titles dating from 1774 and an 1805 dictionary, was a beautiful 1874 Bible.

When the Bamjis moved to Canada in 1981, the Bible came with them, first to their home in Kingston, Ont., where Perry, an electrical engineer, taught at Queens University until 2006, when they moved to Fairfield.

As the couple downsized from a larger home into a condominium, certain things had to go and the Bible, while much loved, was too big for their space.

A skilled researcher, Annamaria then set about trying to find the Bible’s original family, starting with the book itself.

“The first page is always the family page. They had taken it out (when they sent it to auction) but they forgot to tear off the middle pages, which has the marriages, births and deaths,” Annamaria says.

After more than a year combing through Internet files, Annamaria contacted a former colleague and historian, John Webb, who still lived in Oxfordshire, asking if he knew any families with the names represented on the Bible’s family pages: Fenemore, Boddington and White.

As is happened, in a completely unrelated coincidence, Webb had in fact met a George Fenemore at an Oxfordshire cancer clinic. Thinking he could possibly be an ancestor of the Fenemore family listed in the Bible, Webb put Annamaria in touch with Fenemore. After conducting a little of his own research in the U.K., Fenemore concluded that the Bible had indeed belonged to his ancestors.

“[For John Webb] to know just one Fenemore and for it to be the right one, it was very strange,” Annamaria says.

The Bamjis wanted to send the valuable Bible as a gift, and asked only that the Fenemores pay the postage for the 5.5-kilogram book, which they were happy to do, Annamaria says.

The serendipity didn’t end there, however.

Upon receiving the Bible in Oxfordshire, Fenemore opened it at random to an image of St. Peter. He later told the Bamjis he had been warden of St. Peter’s Church for 40 years. “I have a feeling there is a bit of Divine intervention,” he reflected in an email.

The Bamjis are pleased the Bible is back with its original family.

“We have enjoyed this Bible in our homes for well over 40 years and it is now returned to its home in the custody of George Fenmore and the family members who follow him,” Perry says.

“It has gone home,” Annamaria agrees.

 

editor@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

The large metal gate stolen from Muddy Valley Farm in rural Saanich on Jan. 18 reappeared less than a week later. (Muddy Valley Farm/Facebook)
Large metal gate stolen from Saanich farm makes mysterious reappearance

12-foot gate returned to Muddy Valley Farm less than a week after it was stolen

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered Langford teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Langford and Vancouver Island Economic Alliance are partnering to provide local businesses with one-year Island Good memberships. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Economic Alliance)
Langford offering local businesses free Island Good membership

Island Good label helps consumers identify local products

The speculation and vacancy tax raised about $1.21 million in Sidney and North Saanich combined. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich and Sidney property owners paid $1.21 million in speculation and vacancy tax

Speculation and vacancy tax raised 6.5 million in Greater Victoria

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Most Read