JENNYNS (JENNINGS), Sir John (1596-1642), of Halywell House, St. Albans, Herts. and Churchill, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - July 1642

Family and Education

b. 20 May 1596,1 1st s. of Sir John Jennyns of Sandridge, Herts. and his 1st w. Anne, da. of Sir William Brouncker† of Melksham, Wilts.2 educ. travelled abroad 1614, 1618.3 m. Alice, da. of Sir Richard Spencer* of Offley, Herts., 8s. (at least 2 d.v.p.) 4da. (at least 1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1609;5 cr. KB 1 Feb. 1626.6 bur. 27 July 1642.7 sig. Joannis Jenyns.

Offices Held

Servant to Anne of Denmark bef. 1614-18.8

Commr. sewers, Som. 1625, Colne valley 1638-9,9 oyer and terminer, St. Albans 1625-39, Home circ. 1641-d.,10 j.p. Herts. and St. Albans 1625-33, 1636-d.;11 member, Art. Co. of London 1626;12 sheriff, Herts. 1626-7;13 commr. subsidy, Herts. and St. Albans, 1641-d.14


Jennyns came from a cadet branch of a medieval Surrey gentry family. His grandfather bought the manor of Churchill in 1563, and in 1571 inherited from Sir Ralph Rowlett† a valuable ex-monastic estate in and around St. Albans.15 Jennyns’ mother died during his early infancy, and his father was certified insane in 1607. His wardship was sold to John Gobert for £1,770, at considerable profit to the master of the Wards, the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), since only £370 of the purchase price went to the Crown; it was presumably also Salisbury who found Jennyns a place in the queen’s Household.16 Jennyns obtained licence to go abroad in 1614, and again in 1618 ‘for the attainment of languages’, and on his return settled in Somerset.

In 1621, perhaps burdened by the expense of his rapidly growing family, Jennyns organized a petition against the increase in subsidy assessment. The local assessor described him as a man ‘of great estate and means, both in lands and goods’, but ‘of turbulent and mutinous disposition’, and eventually brought him before Star Chamber.17 It seems to have been as a result of this episode that Jennyns decided to leave Somerset, for he had taken up residence in St. Albans by 1624, when his eldest sons entered the local grammar school.18 He soon became involved in local politics, and was noted as a friend and supporter of Sir John Luke* at the general election in 1625.19

Jennyns received the order of the Bath at the coronation of Charles I, but was nevertheless loath to pay the Forced Loan. As Luke reported, ‘he doth not deny it ... if others of his own rank lend it he will do the like ... but at this time he hath it not’.20 Upon receiving a summons to appear before the Privy Council his resistance quickly collapsed; nevertheless, his defiant stance may have inspired the borough to elect him to the next Parliament, the first of his family to sit.21 His interest in the proceedings of the House is attested by his ownership of a manuscript collection of copies of speeches concerning the liberty of the subject, from debates that preceded the drafting of the Petition of Right, in the form of a slim vellum-bound volume of 45 folios.22 On 12 May 1628 Jennyns and Sir Henry Croke* testified that an Oxfordshire man caught lurking at the door of the Commons was a ‘very religious, honest gentleman’.23 His only committee appointment was in the second session, on a bill to reverse a decree in Chancery obtained by Sir Arnold Herbert* (21 Feb. 1629).24

Jennyns made another appearance before the Privy Council in 1632, when he ‘contemptuously refused to take up the charge’ of a trained band, and the 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*), as lord lieutenant of Hertfordshire, was required to nominate ‘some other gentleman of quality’.25 He moved to London for a time to avoid payment of Ship Money, complaining that he had been ‘unequally rated and beyond proportion with others’ assessed at St. Albans, further alleging that the corporation had managed to conceal part of their income from the assessors.26 He drew up his will on 21 Mar. 1639, leaving £21 10s. to be distributed among the poor of St. Albans.27 The borough re-elected him to both Parliaments of 1640, despite a spell of imprisonment in the Fleet for failure to suppress anti-Laudian disturbances in Hertfordshire.28 He was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster on 27 July 1642.29 His eldest son Richard took over his seat, representing St. Albans until Pride’s Purge, and again from 1659 until his death in 1668.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/318/156.
  • 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), viii. 90, 107.
  • 3. APC, 1613-14, p. 392; 1618-19, p. 214.
  • 4. E.A. Webb, Recs. St. Bartholomew Smithfield, ii. 279; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), viii. 90, 107.
  • 5. C142/318/156.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 163.
  • 7. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 601.
  • 8. APC, 1613-14, p. 392; 1618-19, p. 214; E315/107, f. 23.
  • 9. C181/3, f. 186v; 181/5, ff. 122, 136v.
  • 10. C181/3, ff. 175, 264v; 181/4, ff. 78v, 90; 181/5, ff. 134v, 193, 222.
  • 11. C231/4, f. 176; 231/5, f. 406; C181/3, f. 140; 181/5, f. 212v.
  • 12. Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. G.A. Raikes, 38.
  • 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 64
  • 14. SR, v. 84, 151.
  • 15. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), viii. 97; Procs. Som. Arch. Soc. xxxi. 42; VCH Herts. ii. 433.
  • 16. L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 23; WARD 9/162, f. 83v; C142/297/160.
  • 17. STAC 8/34/6.
  • 18. Mdx. and Herts. N and Q, i. 42.
  • 19. HALS, OFF ACC 1162/161.
  • 20. SP16/44/14.
  • 21. HALS, OFF ACC 1162/164; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 9.
  • 22. Univ. London, Goldsmiths ms 196.
  • 23. CD 1628, iii. 376.
  • 24. CJ, i. 932a.
  • 25. PC2/42, pp. 12, 34-5.
  • 26. PC2/45, pp. 432-3; CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 288.
  • 27. PROB 11/190, f. 152.
  • 28. CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 12; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 233-4.
  • 29. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 601.