From the Fortress of Solitude
I've spent many hours pushing through the ceilings at the top of many branches of our collective family tree. Today we will read about our Jennings line.
I came across the following Jennings Family History while researching this family line. The source is give at the beginning. I've taken the liberty to edit the piece for interest's sake. Enjoy reading about another previously unknown branch of our family.
P.S. Our Relationship Chart into the Jennings Family line is given at the bottom of the page.
This information came from the book, " Jennings, Davidson and Allied Families", By Lillie Pauline White, Pg. 7.
John, meaning the "Lord's grace," is the source of many patronymics-Jennings among them. The evolution is something like this: John, Jons, Johnson, Janson, Jennings. Other variations of the name are Jinnins, Jennins, Jenyns, Jenynges, Jannings, and Jenning, with Jennins, and Jennyns being found in the colonial records Gennequin is the French form and Gening is old German of the eighth century.
The family of Jennings is of very ancient origin and its history of interest to the families of that name in the United States. They seem to have settled in England before the Norman Conquest, being of Danish extraction, some say that the family originated in Carnarvonshire, Wales, from whence it spread over England following the eleventh century, and later into Ireland, France and Germany.
The first member who settled in the Kingdom of Great Britain appears to have been a Danish captain, brought into England between 1017 and 1025 by Canute. King of Denmark. Here Captain Jennings was baptised into the Christian faith, and was given certain manors lying upon the seacoast near Harwich by Canute as a reward for his former services for his father, Sweyne, King of Denmark.
Another interesting member of the family seems to have been another Captain Jennens, who, we are told, had the honor of bringing the body of Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard I or Richard the Lionheart) back to England.
The name was also prominent in Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Somerset, Middlesex and Straffordshire during the time of Henry VIII. One of Henry's favorites was a Robert Jennings who was presented, about 1545, by the King with a sword and belt, preserved by his descendants, who are, I think, still living on the estate in Berbyshire in the parish of Shettle, also a gift of the king to Robert Jennings. He held the appointment of chief warden, deerstalker, and ranger in Derbyshire.
An early record gives us Humphrey Jennens, ironmaster of Birmingham, who was living in the grace of the King in 1575. His daughter, Anne, married into the house of the Earl of Suffolk.
Then it is said that there was a famous British admiral, Sir John Jennings, Fifteenth child of his father. Philip, of Duddleston Hall. Shropshire. The admiral was at the capture of Gibralter, in 1604, and was knighted for gallant conduct. His seat was the Manor of Newselle, Hampden Court.
All the world knows of Sarah Jennings, First Duchess of Marlborough and mistress of the Queen's robes. To her must be given a considerable share in the Duke's advancement and rise to greatness. She was an imperious lady with a temper of her own, and when the doctor told her one time that if she weren't blistered she would die, she replied. "I won't die and I won't be blistered!" and for a time she kept her word.
A John Jennings was quartermaster under Cromwell and owned nearly all the land on which Birmingham, England, now stands. Here he established, about 1840, the iron works which were the foundation of the city's wealth. One of the grandsons of this John Jennings was William Jennings who became fabulously wealthy and died without direct heirs.
His carelessness brought about the greatest lawsuit the world has ever known. This century old suit involved more than five million pounds. It was upon this suit that Charles Dickenson based his "Jarndyee and Jarndyee" in "Bleak House," following the real incidents of the case closely, particularly the story of Richard Carslone and Wilkie Collins. "Women in White" is partly founded upon a phrase of this celebrated case, and other novels have drawn material from it.
This friendly suit would never have ruined and driven to madness scores of men and women and squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds if William Jennings had not mislaid his spectacles. William was born in 1700 or 1701 and lived to the age of 98, unmarried, during which time he had accumulated a vast estate. In 1798, having destroyed all previous wills, he wrote a new one and went to consult his solicitor before signing the document. He forgot to take his spectacles and , as the solicitor's pair did not fit him, he put his will in his pocket and returned home. In a few days he died and his unsigned will was found still in his coat pocket.
Several claimants to the estate immediately appeared, including among others Lord Curson; Mary, Viscountess of Andover; and William Pindar Lygon, the first Earl of Beauchamp. The Curson Family secured all the real estate, and Richard Penn Curson was created Earl Howe in 1821 at the cost, it is said of 24,000-the earldom having lapsed in default of male issue. The Beauchamps and Andovers consolidated their claims and secured L750,000 each. This was the last money ever paid out of the estate. Since that time thousands of pounds have been spent in searching church records, public documents, libraries, and even tombstones, with the object of establishing a line of descent for one claimant or another from the Jennings line. More than seventeen lawsuits have been before the court, and in 1934 one was started by certain members of the Jennings family of the United States. I understand that it was either thrown out of court or never allowed to be presented for want of sufficient evidence.
Later American echoes of the Jennings family's "Castles in Spain" include the publicity given the settlement of the estate of Edwin B. Jennings, recluse of Chicago, who died in 1926 leaving an estate of $5,000,000. which was divided among cousins, relatives of the fifth degree. A vast estate was left in 1889 by John Drake Jennings, Chicago Financier, but was undivided until it amounted to $12.000,000 in 1942. At that time it was to have been settled and distant relatives were being sought, as most of the immediate heirs had died.
Many Pilgrams of Jennings name and blood found homes in America. Who was the first is difficult to say, but we find that Nicholas of Hartford, afterward of Saybrook, came over in 1634 in the Francis of Ipswich at the age of 22, and a John-either his father or his brother, for we believe both came early-came over the next year and settled first at Hartford and later at Southampton, Conn. At about the same time, perhaps a year or two later, Joshua, who is believed to be another brother came and records show also Jonathan of Norwich, 1684; Richard of New London, 1675: Samuel of Portsmouth, R. I., 1655; and Stephen of Hatfield, who married Hannah Dickinson, widow of Samuel Gillett, who was carried captive to Canada by the Indians, where a daughter was born to whom was given the "Captivity."
Then there was Samuel Jennings of Aylesbury, Bucks, England, governor of New Jersey, who spelled his name with only one "n". Someone has said that "one "n" was airy enough for him." Another Colonial Jennings of importance was Edmund Jennings, who was secretary of Colonial Maryland. In 1728 he became third husband of Ariana Vanderhayden Frisby Bordley. Their daughter, Ariana, married John Randolph, attorney-general of Virginia. They became the parents of Edmund Randolph, Attorney-General under President George Washington, in the first Cabinet.
The American ancestor of this branch of the family-often called the New Jersey branch-is not certainly known although they are credited with having come from Suffolk Co., Eng. There is a family tradition to the effect that this ancestor was a Benjamin, who came in the ship "Caledonia" with his seven sons, but that the ship was wrecked near the coast of Perth Ambey, and the "seven brothers" were scattered and were never reunited. The log book was found or saved and is preserved in the New York Records. There is no record of the list of passengers landed, but tradition speaks of the "seven brothers", naming them as Joseph, Zebulon, Jacob, Benjamin, Jr., Jonathan, John, and David. Altho they are called "brothers," many think their relationship is not so close, some of them being not nearer than cousins.While we have no positive knowledge regarding our English ancestry, I cannot but think, we are from the Sir John Jennings branch. We are told Sir John was a graduate of Oxford College in 1585, and our Joshna, we are led to believe, was a man of education. He married into one of the best families in Hartford, Conn., and was also one of the largest individual land owners of his day.
Sir John Jennings had twenty-one children only sixteen have been found. Leaving five unaccounted for by name - I believe our Joshua is one of the five.
The Jennings family were true friends of the first King James and the first King Charles of England; and they spent their large estate in supporting them. In later years when these two Kings' children and grand-children came to the throne, and tried to pay back the debt by giving position at court to Sir Richard's children, aomt tauntingly said, "They are only the daughters of a poor Hartfordshire squire". But their beauty, purity and loveliness with true thankfulness for favors, bestowed upon father and grandfather of the reigning families held them firm, and carried those "poor daughters" to the highest place next to the throne of England. So the Jennings blood flows through the veins of most all the titled families of England.
For my part I am glad Sir John Jennings did just as he did. King James the First was the means of getting us the best version or translation of the Holy Scriptures. We selected fifty-four of the most learned men in the world at-that-time, and in 1611 forty-seven of these men completed the task assigned them; and hence we have the King James translation of the Holy Bible today. Sir John died in 1642 but Sir Richard Jennings was in King Charles army with his troops and was taken prisoner by the Round Heads.
We made an effort to connect ourselves with the family of Humphrey Jennings of Birmingham, England, whose grandson Wm. Jennings died in 1799 leaving a large estate in iron mines and factories valued at about 40,000,000 lbs. sterling: but Humphrey Jennings was blessed with a number of beautiful daughters and their father being a rich man, they married into the titled families of England. One of these Lord Howe, administered upon the Wm. Jennings estate. So the heirs of Humphrey Jennings have the property today, but they bear other names than Jennings. The Sir Edmund Jennings family are another of the prominent ones at Yorkshire, England.
Ralph Jennings father of Sir John Jennings married the daughter of Sir Ralph Roulett and goldsmith of London. Sir John Jennings married Alice Spencer. He built the Water End House at St. Albans, a massive stone structure which is still standing and in good condition.
His grand-daughter Sarah Jennings married John Churchill a soldier in the English Army. She had him promoted until he was at the head of the Army as Duke of Marlborough.
There was also a prominent Admiral in the English Navy at that time by the name of Jennings.
In 1381 Matthew Jennings a gold-smith advanced money to King Richard 2nd.
Robert Jennings was prominent in Henry the Eights' reign.
John Jennings was Mayor of Guildford 1419 to 1435.
Bernard Jennings was Mayor of Guildford 1466 to 1475.
Robert Jennings the son of Humphrey Jennings was the correspondent and attorney of the Duchess Sarah. He was the father of William Jennings of Birmingham, who died a bachelor having a large estate which was referred to previously.In Yorkshire we find in the 16th century Peter Jennens on his manor at Hebden Bridge b. ca. 1550. By Agnes ___ he had son William bapt. at H.B. Yorks 23 May 1577.
II. William Jennings of Hebden Bridge, bapt. Kilnwick Parish in E. Riding Yorkshire 23 May 1577, by wife Agnes ___ had three sons, 2 daus. John was bapt at Kilnwick 28 Oct. 1602; Robert bp. 13 Dec. 1607; Ambrose b. K. ca. 1610, d. London 1667, bur. St. Martin's 17 Feb. 1667; Mary b. at K. ca. 1615 d. London bur. St. Martin's 28 Dec. 1670; Agnes Jennings ca. 1618 buried St. Martin's 4 Mar. 1668.
III. John Jennings p. 146 of Kilnwick Parish, Yorks. bapt. 28 Oct. 1602, rem. Birmingham were he d. May 31, 1662, and was buried at St. Martin's, will rp. 10 Mar. 1663.
III. Robert Jennings of Kilnwick, 2d son of William, bp. 1607, m. 1640 Margaret Tillotson: had Edward bp 1655, William, John, Jonathan, Stephen
Children of JOHN JENNINGS are:
i. NICHOLAS2 JENNINGS, b. 1612, England; d. 1673, Saybrook CT.
2. ii. JOHN JENNINGS, b. 1617, Suffolk, England; d. September 21, 1686, CT.
3. iii. JOSHUA JENNINGS, b. ABT 1620, England; d. 1674, Fairfield CT.
Generation No. 2
JOHN JENNINGS was born 1617 in Suffolk, England, and died September 21, 1686 in CT. He married ANN YOUNGS ABT 1644, daughter of JOHN YOUNGES and JOAN JENTILMAN from there we get the following Relationship Chart:
William Jennings and Agnes
John Jennings and Anne Smith
John Jennings and Ann Younges
Johanna Jennings and Benjamin Haines
Benjamin Haines and Lydia Jaggar
John Haines and Jane
Benjamin Haines and Katherine Woodruff
Hannah Haines and Matthias Spinning
Mary Spinning and Benjamin Morris
Issac Morris and ?
Nancy Morris and Whitty Victor
Effie Helen Victor and William Jonathan Williamson
Charles Williamson and Elda Vercellino and Elsie Jenson
Charles Williamson and Luella Mattson