JENNINGS, Sir John (1664-1743), of Byfleet, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 1664, 15th ch. of Philip Jennings of Duddlestone, Salop by Christian, da. of Sir Gerard Eyton of Eyton, Salop. m. Alice, da. of Francis Breton of Wallington, Herts., 1s. Kntd. 24 Oct. 1704.1
Entered RN 1680, lt. 1687, capt. 1689, r.-adm. 1705, v.-adm. 1708, adm. 1708; dep.-gov. Southsea Castle 1702; c.-in-c. Thames and Medway 1708, Mediterranean 1711–13; r.-adm. of Eng. 1733–4; ld. of Admiralty 1714–17, 1718–27; keeper, Greenwich Pk. 1720–d.2
Gov. Greenwich Hosp. 1720–d.; er. brother, Trinity House 1720–d., master 1723–4.3
Freeman, Portsmouth 1706.4
A younger son in a numerous family, Jennings made the navy his career. Promoted a captain in 1689, he had a successful career during the Nine Years War, taking many prizes. He remained on active service during the peace and in July 1702 he was appointed deputy-governor of Southsea Castle on the recommendation of Sir George Rooke*, whom he subsequently accompanied to Cadiz and Vigo Bay. He spent the summer of 1703 with Sir Clowdesley Shovell* in the Mediterranean and in 1704 took part in the capture of Gibraltar and the battle of Malaga. On his return he was knighted and promoted rear-admiral of the Blue.5
Jennings successfully contested the port town of Queenborough in 1705, opposing a Tacker. Classed as Low Church in an analysis of the new Parliament, his return was listed as a gain for the Whigs by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). He was absent from the division on the choice of Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. In 1706 he served in the Mediterranean, taking part in the relief of Barcelona and other operations on the coast of Spain and going from thence to the West Indies in the winter of 1706–7 in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Spanish colonies to declare for the Archduke Charles. He returned to England in April 1707. During the winter of 1707–8 he gave evidence to the Lords on the encouragement of trade in the West Indies in November and in January 1708 on the bill for the encouragement of seamen. On the latter he also submitted a paper with 13 proposals to improve the methods of manning the fleet, three of which were incorporated in a Lords address to the Queen. Two lists of 1708 classed him as a Whig.6
Jennings was made rear-admiral of the White in December 1707 and vice-admiral of the Red in January 1708. He served under Sir George Byng* in deterring the intended French invasion of Scotland, and in June 1708 he refused the offer of a place on Prince George’s Admiralty council. Although Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) thought this a mistake, Jennings did not suffer by it, since he was promoted admiral of the Blue at the end of the year. He spent most of the next two years in the Mediterranean and on the coast of Portugal, writing to Josiah Burchett*, the Admiralty secretary, on 8 Apr. 1709:
I am extremely obliged to the lord high admiral [Thomas Herbert†, Earl of Pembroke] for the good opinion he is pleased to entertain of me, but must beg he will grant my request to be commissioned for admiral of the White. Without it, I think, I labour under a hardship. Sir John Norris* and Lord Dursley [James Berkeley*], you know, are much my juniors, . . . and you are pleased to say both of them are appointed admirals of the Blue. Pray, where is my advantage then of having served as a flag officer three years before them?
He got his promotion, but not until November 1709, when it was possibly intended as compensation for his exclusion from the new Admiralty commission by the Queen, who considered him among the opponents of her late husband, Prince George. In Parliament he was listed as supporting the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709 and voting for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710.7
In the 1710 election Jennings was defeated at Queenborough but successfully contested for a seat at Portsmouth, whereupon he was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’. He was, however, unseated on petition early in 1711, but was soon afterwards appointed commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, where he spent the next three years. In 1713, after supervising the evacuation of the land forces from Catalonia and taking the Duke of Savoy and his forces to Sicily, he was at his own request allowed to lay down his command and return to England, arriving home in late November. He was put on half-pay and took no further part in affairs until after the Queen’s death. In the reign of George I, Jennings returned to the political and naval scene, being returned for Rochester in 1715 when he was listed as a Whig in a comparative analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. He purchased the Newsells estate in Barkway, Hertfordshire, in 1721 and died on 23 Dec. 1743.8
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Info. from Dr P. J. Lefevre; Cussans, Herts. i(2), pp. 23, 196.
- 2. Info. from Dr Le Fevre; Charnock, Biog. Navalis ii. 261–9, 274; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 372.
- 3. W. R. Chaplin, Trinity House, 18, 66.
- 4. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 374.
- 5. Charnock, 261–3; CSP Dom. 1702–3, pp. 128, 372.
- 6. Charnock, 264–7; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 227–8, 522–5.
- 7. Charnock, 268; HMC Lords, n.s. viii. 59, 210–15; Navy Recs. Soc. lxviii, pp. xvi–xvii, 3–152, 189; Add. 42839, f. 3; 61460, f. 101; Stanhope, Reign of Anne, 402; Duchess of Marlborough Corresp. i. 278–9.
- 8. Charnock, 269–76; info. from Dr Le Fevre.