JENYNS, Soame (1704-87), of Bottisham, Cambs.
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Family and Education
b. 1 Jan. 1704, o.s. of Sir Roger Jenyns (yr. bro. of John Jenyns) of Bottisham by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Peter Soame, 2nd Bt., of Haydon, Essex. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1722. m. (1) his cos. Mary (d. 30 July 1753), da. of Col. Soame of Dereham Grange, Norf., s.p.; (2) 26 Feb. 1754, his cos. Elizabeth, da. of Henry Grey of Hackney, s.p. suc. fa. 1740.
Ld. of Trade 1755-80.
William Cole, the Cambridge antiquary, gives the following account of Soame Jenyns:
He was son to Sir Roger Jenyns, knt., of Bottisham in Cambridgeshire, who being an artful, cunning, and intriguing man, raised from a small beginning in fortune, for he was of a good family of Hayes, a very considerable state by his management in the Fen Corporation.
He was married very young by his father to a young lady of between £20 and £30,000, to whom he [i.e. Sir Roger] was left guardian, and without much consulting the inclinations of the young couple, who were first cousins in blood, she being a natural daughter to Colonel Soame of Dereham Grange, Norfolk; so that it was generally supposed there never was any great affection between them ... On the death of Sir Roger, Mrs. Jenyns, under the pretence of a journey to Bath for her health, made an elopement with one Mr. Levyns, whom I remember at Eton school, and was a Leicestershire gentleman, with whom it was supposed that she had lived very familiarly, even while that gentleman used to be at Mr. Jenyns’s house at Bottisham on the footing of a friend and acquaintance; and what made it more extraordinary, Mrs. Jenyns was neither young nor handsome, a very bad complexion, lean scraggy arms, and noways inviting. Since which elopement about the year 1742 they never cohabited together, a separate maintenance being allowed to the lady, who lived altogether in or about London.
Cole adds that on her death Jenyns married another first cousin, ‘who had lived in the house with him long before his wife’s elopement and even after; and has been said to have occasioned early differences between them’.
In 1741 Jenyns was returned unopposed for Cambridgeshire. He had, Cole writes,
no other interest in the county than what my Lord Montfort procures him and indeed would not have been chosen at all had it not been for the same gentleman and Mr. Sam. Shepheard, who were distressed whom to apply to in the county for a proper representative, many of the principal gentry of the county, to whom it was offered, refusing it. And indeed Sir Roger and Mr. Jenyns himself had always been on the contrary interest to these gentlemen; but they were thoroughly satisfied with their choice.
He voted regularly with the Government, except on Pelham’s proposal in 1744 for an additional tax on sugar, against which he made his only recorded speech in this Parliament, possibly at the instance of Montfort, whose fortune was derived from plantations in Barbados.1
In 1747 Jenyns, standing with Philip Yorke, was again returned unopposed for the county, at a joint cost of £2,000, towards which he contributed £500, the balance being paid by Lord Hardwicke. Thenceforth he attached himself to that family, celebrating their doings in verse with such assiduity that Horace Walpole dubbed him ‘the poet laureate of the Yorkes’. When in spite of this he was required to give up his seat to Lord Granby at the next general election, he became ‘uneasy’ though, as Hardwicke observed,
he has no reason to be so in respect of a seat for himself in Parliament, for he will certainly be taken care of ... Part of his uneasiness has arisen from a dislike of being laid aside for the county, and a dissatisfaction with my Lord Montfort ... He cannot argue or suppose that it is reasonable that things should go on upon the unequal foot they were upon.2
He died 18 Dec. 1787.