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Jenkyns Collection: Introduction

Introduction

Acknowledgements

This collection is concerned primarily with the family, lives and affairs of the brothers Richard Jenkyns (1782-1854) and Henry Jenkyns DD (1795-1878), hereafter RJ and HJ respectively. Through them it contains, in addition to exhaustive documentation for Jenkyns family history (see Appendix A) between ca 1640 and 1870, significant material to do with Balliol and Oriel Colleges, the Universities of Oxford and Durham , and the Chapters of Wells and Durham. The essentials of the lives of RJ and HJ are as follows (see also Appendix A)

Richard Jenkyns: baptised at Evercreech by John Jenkyns his father, the Vicar there, 21 Dec 1782; possibly educated at home first by his father and then prepared for the University by John Randolph (Regius Professor of Divinity; Bishop of Oxford 1977-1806), to whom he was distantly related on his mother’s side (see Appendix B); Scholar of Balliol 1800-1803; Fellow of Balliol 1803-1819 (Tutor, Bursar, Vicegerent etc at various times); MA 1806, DD 1819; Master of Balliol 1819=1854; Vicar of Evercreech 1821-1825; Vice-Chancellor 1824-1828; Rector of Dinder and Prebendary of Wells, following his father, 1824-1845; Dean of Wells 1845-1854; died 6 March 1854; buried in Wells Cathedral.

Henry Jenkyns: baptised at Evercreech by his father, 28 Dec 1795; educated at Eton; Scholar of Corpus Christi College Oxford 1813-1818; 1st class Honours in Classics and in Mathematics 1816; MA 1819, DD 1841; Fellow of Oriel 1818-1835; private tutor to the sons of Charles Manners-Sutton (Speaker of the House of Commons 1817-1835); foundation Professor of Greek at the University of Durham 1833-1838, and of Divinity 1838-1864; Canon of Durham 1839, until his death on 2 April 1878; buried in the churchyard at Curdridge, Hants.

They are interesting examples of well-connected dons made rich by the cathedral preferment system, which came under attack and was eventually reformed in their lifetimes, albeit without much erosion of vested interests. Their brother-in-law Thomas Gaisford (Dean of Christ Church 1831-1855) perhaps had them in mind as well as himself when he delivered his well-known sermon peroration ‘Nor can I do better, in conclusion, than impress upon you the study of Greek literature, which not only elevates above the vulgar herd, but leads not infrequently to positions of considerable emolument.’

The Jenkyns family was a predominantly clerical one, and there are consequently a number of items in the collections which are relevant to the local history of the West Country livings they enjoyed. Close connections with the Hobhouse family give political interest, and a more distant link to the art patron Robert Vernon (1774-1849) as resulted in the survival here of some of his papers too. There are in addition a few important items concerning the University of Oxford which have nothing to do with any member of the family; they probably strayed into RJ’s hands when he was Vice-Chancellor. Similarly, HJ’s own papers on the foundation (1832) and early days of Durham University somehow came to absorb a number of very interesting documents on the same subject belonging to William van Mildert, the Bishop of Durham who presided over the conception and birth of that institution.

The papers remained with the family until the middle of the 20th century, when they were deposited at the Hampshire Record office by Mrs Winifred Jenkyns, of Steeple Court, Botley. They were transferred to Balliol in consultation with her in July 1951, and have been in the College Library ever since, except that the material coded IVA – VB inclusive was on temporary deposit at the University of Durham 1979-1988. Annotations on some labels show that several generations of the family have studied the collection, particularly John Jenkyns (1843-1914), who recorded that he diminished it. It is still arranged essentially as he repacked it. He had no reason to think of the needs of students, so there are many infelicities of arrangement. This Guide, while it does not purport to be a complete catalogue, aims to remedy these deficiencies as far as is practicable, by indicating the principal items of interest in a logical order. In particular, it is hoped that most of the ODNB subjects who appear significantly in the collection are mentioned, although many isolated items and small groups of letters are not. RJ played a critical ole in the creation of Victorian Balliol, and it was in connection with a study of him that the family archive was searched and a working list was made. As a consequence, this Guide is much more thorough in relation to him than to anyone else.

When deposited at Balliol, the papers were contained in seven large deed boxes. The designations I-VII are derived from these boxes, but the boxes were deteriorating, and everything has since been repacked: it is now contained in 34 standard archive boxes. The location codes for the items described are given on the right, underlined; the bold numbers on the left have been introduced solely for the purposes of this Guide, and have nothing to do with the physical arrangement of the collection.

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to many helpful correspondents for information; to successive College Librarians Mr Vincent Quinn and Dr Penelope Bulloch, and to their colleague Mr Alan Tadiello, for assistance; to Miss Claire Cheshire, who prepared the whole of the text in camera-ready form; to Mr Henry L Jenkyns, the present head of the family, and to his son Richard HA Jenkyns, for their encouragement and interest.

Balliol, 20 April 1988

-John Jones


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