JENKINSON, John (?1734-1805).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1780

Family and Education

b. ?1734, 3rd s. of Col. Charles Jenkinson, and bro. of Charles Jenkinson.  educ. Charterhouse.  m. 1778, Fanny, da, of Adm. John Barker, 4s. 1da.

Offices Held

Page to the King Apr. 1748-52; gentleman usher to the Queen 1761- d.; second (or Ulster) sec. to the ld. Lt. [I] 1773-5, and jt. sec. to the ld. lt. in England 1775.

Cornet 2 Horse 1752, capt. 1762; capt. 12 Drag. 1765; ret. 1773.


Jenkinson’s great-grandmother was a Bankes, relations between the two families were close, and in March 1764 John and Henry Bankes considered the possibility of returning Jenkinson for Corfe Castle, which they did in 1768 and 1774 without contest.

Jenkinson owed his original appointment at court probably to Lord Harcourt, a friend of his family; his career in the army, Parliament, and in office mainly to his brother Charles. It was to him that he was indebted for his promotion in 1762,1 and again 1765.2 In 1768 Charles applied for him to Lord Townshend;3 and on 14 Oct. 1769 wrote to Lord Granby:4 ‘I have frequently before now mentioned my brother to you; though he was page to the late King, and has served in the army, at least 18 years, he has not yet attained any higher rank than that of captain.’

John Jenkinson was offered the Irish post by Harcourt within a month of Harcourt’s being offered the lord lieutenancy.5 Godfrey Lill, Irish solicitor-general, wrote to George Macartney, 21 Aug. 1773:6 ‘Mr. Jenkinson is come here ... he is reserved but seems to have got some good lessons under his brother and I think will through him make his way here.’ But on 5 Nov.: Jenkinson seems hurt at his situation, being ‘a British Member but an under-secretary here’; and is ‘going in a few days to England without any intention to return till next sessions’. Harcourt, writing to the secretary of state Lord Rochford, on 27 Nov. described Jenkinson as ‘a most prudent and sensible man’ who ‘has attended the business of the session most assiduously, and from an accurate, good understanding will be able to give your Lordship the clearest insight into our affairs’.7 Still, Jenkinson seems never to have settled down in Ireland; did not enter the Irish Parliament; and on 20 June 1774 wrote to his brother hoping Charles would obtain for him ‘a seat at a Board on this side of the water and particularly at the lower ones’, or at least ‘a small Irish pension’—‘I have surely claim enough on Lord North to expect his consent, and there seems ground ... to think that Lord Harcourt would do such a favour for me.’8 In 1775 he was appointed joint secretary to the lord lieutenant in England, with a salary of £400 per annum, and a prospect of its rising shortly to £600; and a ‘very easy’ attendance on the business of the office which, moreover, did not vacate his seat.9

In Parliament Jenkinson always voted with the Government. During his twelve years in the House only two speeches are reported: 31 Jan. 1772, on a motion of Thomas Townshend jun. about the export of horses; and an intervention in the debate of 6 Feb. 1772 on the 39 Articles.10 By September 1780 Henry Bankes jun. had come of age, and the seat at Corfe Castle was required for him. Jenkinson did not stand again.  He died 1 May 1805, aged 70.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Calcraft to Shelburne, 30 Oct. 1762, Lansdowne mss.
  • 2. Jenkinson Pprs. 350-1.
  • 3. Add. 38206, f. 36.
  • 4. Rutland mss.
  • 5. Add. 32807, f. 139.
  • 6. Macartney mss, PRO Northern Ireland.
  • 7. Cal. Home Office Pprs. 1773-5, pp. 107-8.
  • 8. Add. 38208, f. 80.
  • 9. Harcourt to Chas. Jenkinson, 22 May 1775, ibid. f. 148.
  • 10. Cavendish’s ‘Debates’, Egerton 232, pp. 102, 116.