JENNINGS, Sir Jonathan (1633-1707), of Ripon, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1689 - 1695

Family and Education

bap. 25 Apr. 1633, 2nd s. of Jonathan Jennings of Ripon and bro. of Sir Edmund Jennings*.  educ. Ripon sch. (Mr Palmes); G. Inn 1649; Christ’s, Camb. 1650.  m. Anne, da. of Sir Edward Barkham, 1st Bt.†, of Tottenham, Mdx. and Southacre, Norf., 1da.  Kntd. 18 Mar. 1678.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Ripon 1659, alderman 1662–87, mayor 1664–5; sheriff, Yorks. Nov. 1689–Jan. 1690.2

Capt. Sir Henry Goodricke’s (2nd Bt.*) ft. 1678–9; commr. for prizes Nov. 1691–9.3


Like his brother, Sir Edmund, Jennings was connected with the Earl of Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne†) and with Danby’s friend, Sir Henry Goodricke, 2nd Bt. Returned for Ripon with his brother in 1690, he was classed as a Tory and probable Court supporter by Danby, now Marquess of Carmarthen. Jennings was a relatively active Member. On 1 Apr. a petition for relief from William Browning, who claimed to have been ruined because arrested by Jennings in 1681 for relaying information to the Earl of Shaftesbury, was thrown out by the House on the grounds that it reflected on Jennings’ honour and justice. The next day Jennings reported from the committee for inspecting the papers of Richard Stafford, who had been accused of delivering a seditious pamphlet to the lobby door. Later that month Jennings reported on and carried up a naturalization bill. On the 24th there was an attempt to present a London petition which was not signed by the lord mayor, which caused Jennings to go into a ‘long discourse’ on what had happened in the 1689 Convention when an unsigned London petition was brought in. His speech was too long for Anchitell Grey* to take down, and was condemned as irrelevant by Sir Thomas Lee, 1st Bt.4

In the 1690–1 session, Jennings was first-named on 18 Oct. to the drafting committee for a bill to regulate the King’s Bench and Fleet prisons. He appears to have taken a leading role in the committee’s investigations, as on 17 Dec. a petition was presented to the House from David Tucker, complaining of his undue arrest by William Briggs, the acting marshal of the King’s Bench prison. Prior to his arrest Tucker had given evidence before the drafting committee, which appears to have been the reason why Briggs manufactured Tucker’s imprisonment for a pretended debt. When Tucker told Briggs that ‘he was in hopes the Parliament would take his case into consideration, if acquainted thereof by Sir Jonathan Jennings’, Briggs replied ‘God damn him, he did not value Sir Jonathan Jennings; for he was as good a man as himself and that they would do what they pleased with their prisoners; for the Parliament had nothing to do with them’. Tucker’s petition was referred to the committee of privileges, which reported the next day that Briggs had been heard to say that ‘he did not care a fart’ for Jennings, whereupon Briggs was sent for into custody of the serjeant-at-arms for his ‘scandalous reflections’ upon the House and on Jennings. On 25 Oct., and again on 7 Nov., Jennings delivered a private estate bill to the Lords, while on the 28th he told for the motion that the moderate Tory, Sir Carbery Pryse, 4th Bt.*, was duly elected for Cardiganshire. In December Carmarthen listed him as an ally and on another list as a Court supporter. In April 1691 he was likewise classed by Robert Harley*.

Following the death of his brother in September 1691, Jennings was given Sir Edmund’s place as a commissioner of prizes, though Carmarthen had wanted it for Hon. Henry Bertie I*. Jennings also received a grant of horses belonging to Roman Catholics in Yorkshire. In the 1691–2 session he told on 16 Nov. for summoning Lord Danby (Peregrine Osborne†) to appear before the House in connexion with some papers seized in a French boat, while on 11 Dec. he presented a bill for the better making of bricks and mortar. On 2 Jan. 1692 he told against agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution for reducing the number of dragoons in Ireland for the coming year. At the end of the month he told in favour of giving a second reading to the bill from the Lords for enabling the bishop of London to sell the manor of Bushey (22nd), and for a Court motion to adjourn the debate on the treason trials bill (25th), while he also reported and carried up a bill to naturalize Meinhardt Schomberg, Duke of Leinster, son of one of the King’s favourite generals. In January 1693 he managed a private estate bill through the House, and on the 9th he told against the clause relating to the addition of extra commissioners to the land tax bill, and on the next day against a clause prohibiting the grant of pensions from the hereditary revenue, which was to be included in the same bill. On 6 Mar. he presented a petition to the House on behalf of the deputy provost marshal. In the 1693–4 session he carried up a private estate bill on 19 Feb. 1694, but thereafter he appears to have been less active in Parliament. During 1692–5 he was included on several lists of placemen in the Commons.5

Before the 1695 election Jennings created trouble at the quarter sessions in Yorkshire, making complaints about an alderman who had encroached ‘upon my lord archbishop’s waste’, and about the use of common land, all of which were thought to have been better made at the court of Archbishop Sharp of York who was lord of the manor of Ripon. Though the majority of the justices took a different view, Jennings insisted that the clerk should draw up a presentment upon his complaints and present it to the jury. The upshot was that Jennings was left off the commission of the peace. He stood down at the 1695 election when John Aislabie, a kinsman of the archbishop, and the son of a man Jennings had killed in a duel 20 years earlier, was returned in his stead. A complaint was made in 1697 that Jennings had received a share in the prizes taken in Maryland by his nephew Peter Jennings, agent for the prize commissioners, which led to the dismissal of the latter. It was reported in December 1698 that Jennings, John Parkhurst* and other commissioners of the prize office ‘sit daily to make up their accounts for the Parliament, they being accused of applying great sums of money to their own use’. What they had done was to pay their own salary out of prizes instead of waiting to be paid in the normal way. The matter was not immediately cleared up for as late as August 1703 he was examined several times by the commissioners for stating army and navy debts in relation to ‘monies arising by prizes in the late reign’. As the years went by, Jennings became increasingly pugnacious. In the summer of 1698 he took strong exception to a sermon by the dean of Ripon, Heneage Finch, on the theme ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour and love thine enemy’ in which the dean had stated that while it was just to have recourse to law, this must not be undertaken in ‘a revengeful spirit’. He sent his nephew Jonathan* to see the dean, demanding a retraction in the form of a paper which the dean refused to sign. Jennings then demanded a sermon upon the same theme the next Sunday to make amends, to which the dean objected that this being Whitsunday, it would not be appropriate, whereupon Jennings put up a ‘libel’ against the dean on the wall of a local coffee-house. The dean thought he would have cause for ‘a good action against Sir Jonathan for it both by common law and in the spiritual court’, but let the matter drop. At about the same time Jennings had also begun a suit to be reinstated as alderman of Ripon, notwithstanding his resignation of that office in the previous reign. Without waiting for the outcome, he came early on Sunday to Ripon Minster wearing an alderman’s gown and took the seat next to the mayor, which was normally occupied by the recorder. This game of musical chairs, which occurred over several Sundays, caused much ‘laughter and sport to the undevout and irreligious, but trouble and grief to those that are devout’. Members of the corporation complained to the archbishop of York that ‘we shall never be at quiet as long as he hath any power to disturb us’. Jennings failed in his attempt to be restored, but in September 1699 he did succeed in prosecuting a gentleman whom he had accused of wrongly assuming his coat of arms. He continued to make strong speeches attacking the archbishop, the dean, the corporation and John Aislabie, but seems to have found no allies apart from Christopher Tancred*. He also endeavoured unsuccessfully to get Sir Abstrupus Danby* elected for Ripon in direct competition with John Sharp, son of the archbishop, at the second 1701 election. Jennings continued to serve as a deputy-lieutenant for the West Riding and York until 1703. He died in January 1707, and was buried on the 27th in Ripon Minster.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 200–1.
  • 2. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/053/1, James Vernon I* to Alexander Stanhope, 9 Jan. 1689–90.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1371.
  • 4. Grey, x. 62.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. 1060, 1371; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 554; Luttrell Diary, 22, 106, 148, 155, 166, 201, 356, 360, 463.
  • 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. xii. 149; xiv. 67; xv. 130; xix. 116; Glos. RO, Sharp mss 3/E26, Christopher Wyvill to abp. of York, 7 June 1698; 4/A75, Rowland Norton to same, 22 Aug. 1698; 3/D43, Wyvill to same, 7 Sept. 1698; 4/E20, Edward Ridsdale to same, 3 Jan. 1700[–1]; 4/F29, Edward Hodgson to same, [n.d.]; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 465, 560; v. 332; Ripon Millenary ed. Harrison, 67–68; N. Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, estimate of voters, 14 Sept. 1701, Jennings to Danby, 28 Sept. 1701, Robert Bayne to same, 30 Sept. 1701, ‘Persons to be elected’ at Ripon, 24 Nov. 1701; CSP Dom. 1700–2, pp. 31, 249; 1702–3, p. 394.