JENNER, Robert (c.1584-1651), of Widhill, Wilts. and Foster Lane, London.
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Family and Education
Common councilman, London 1622-34;6 j.p. Wilts. 1632-42, by 1646, 1649-d.;7 commr. sewers, Wilts., Glos., Oxon. and Berks. 1635,8 settle disafforested land, Braydon, Wilts. 1635,9 subsidy, Wilts. 1641-2,10 assessment, Wilts. 1643-51,11 sequestration of delinquents 1643,12 levying of money 1643,13 execution of Ordinances 1644,14 defence 1644,15 militia 1648-9.16
Although his parentage is unknown, Jenner had connections with various people of the same surname in north Wiltshire and south Gloucestershire, including John Jenner, a yeoman of Crudwell, a parish four miles from Malmesbury, who appears to have been his brother. It is highly likely that Jenner himself came from the same area.22 Jenner was made free of the London Goldsmiths’ Company by service in July 1613, having served an apprenticeship (which normally lasted seven or eight years) under one Edward Greene. By 1615 he was enrolling apprentices of his own, including William Gibbs†.23 Jenner specialized in refining imported silver bullion used in the wire-drawing trade. From at least 1614 he was also the principal purchaser of silver from the Cumbrian mines developed by Daniel Hechstetter, to whom he had paid £4,972 in total by 1624. Between 1617 and 1621 he handled 6,779 lbs of silver bullion valued at £24,405.24 Jenner clearly prospered, acquiring a house in Foster Lane in the city of London at an uncertain date for £1,400.25
During the economic crisis of the early 1620s the use of gold and silver thread was widely criticized for contributing to the shortage of coinage. Consequently a Proclamation was issued in June 1622, which prohibited its manufacture and gave the Mint sole right to purchase gold and silver bullion.26 Within two weeks Jenner was arrested on suspicion of continuing to produce and sell thread, and a number of his silver bars were seized.27 In an attempt to regulate the trade, the Crown in June 1623 established the Gold and Silver Wiredrawers’ Company whose members, including Jenner, were granted the right to supply wire-drawers with raw materials. However, the new Company was opposed by the Goldsmiths and its charter was revoked by Proclamation a year later.28
Jenner was sufficiently wealthy by 1624 to purchase Widhill manor, in the parish of Cricklade, as well as Eisey over the border in Gloucestershire.29 It was presumably as a result of these purchases that he secured his return for Cricklade in 1628. He was little involved with the work of the House, being named to only two committees, one of which was concerned with Henry Billingsley’s patent to carry foreign post (14 June) and the other with the Goldsmiths’ Company’s petition against the patent granting the 1st earl of Holland (Henry Rich*) the sole right to sell and exchange gold and silver coin and bullion (13 June). His only speech, on 24 June, was in the debate on the Goldsmiths’ petition, in which he stated that the patent had been followed by a Proclamation for its enforcement, which had resulted in several prosecutions in Star Chamber.30 On 26 May parliamentary privilege was granted to one of his servants who was being sued in the Exchequer. Jenner may have been the ‘Mr. Jenner’ who subsequently testified concerning words allegedly spoken by an attorney called Skynner in contempt of parliamentary privilege.31
Jenner played no recorded part in the 1629 session. Later that year he was elected one of the renter wardens of the Goldsmiths’, but he initially refused to serve, only acquiescing after he was given permission to employ his former apprentice, Gibbs, as deputy. He agreed to provide the customary renter’s dinner only after the Company committed him to Newgate gaol. His apology to the Company was considered ‘imperfect’ and he was obliged to re-write it.32 Jenner continued to prosper in the following decade. In 1632 he provided land in Wiltshire and a dowry of £5,000 for his daughter’s marriage to Thomas Trevor†, the only son of Sir Thomas Trevor*, baron of the Exchequer.33
Jenner sat for Cricklade in both the Short and Long Parliaments, when he was heavily engaged in the business of the committee for compounding, but was secluded at Pride’s Purge. Royalist forces pillaged his house during the Civil War, for which he was later granted £500 compensation.34 He made his will on 7 Nov. 1651, bequeathing to his wife Elizabeth his household goods, £200 in cash and an annuity of £200 from the profits of Widhill. An annuity of £40 was to be drawn from the profits of Marston Meysey manor near Cricklade, purchased in 1648, to support an almshouse which he had built in Malmesbury, while Widhill manor was left to his cousin and heir, John Jenner.35 Elizabeth was also to receive a life interest in his house in Foster Lane as her jointure. Fulfilling an arrangement made in 1647, the house was then to be granted to the Goldsmiths’ Company to provide charitable donations to 15 poor Goldsmiths and the poor of three London parishes. Other bequests, amounting to £640, were made to relations and servants. In a codicil to the will, dated 6 Dec. 1651, he requested that the inhabitants of Cricklade buy a parcel of land in the town on which to build a free school, to the support of which he provided a salary of £20 to a schoolmaster, stipulating that he was to tutor Latin scholars only.36
Jenner died the following day and was buried at St Sampson’s, Cricklade, where a tablet was erected to his memory.37 In addition to his charitable bequests, he is remembered for rebuilding ‘a fair church’ at Marston Meysey, and for giving a silver cup inscribed with his name.38 There is no evidence that he had any surviving descendants, the daughter is unmentioned in the will, presumably having predeceased him. The Jenner family owned Marston Meysey until at least the late eighteenth century, and remained at Widhill until the manor was sold in 1826.39
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Ben Coates
- 1. Secluded 6 Dec. 1648
- 2. According to his funeral monument he died aged 67. J. Sadler, ‘Widhill chapel and manor’, Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlii. 14
- 3. Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 206; Sadler, 14-15.
- 4. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, min. bks. 1611-17, f. 60v (ex inf. David Beasley); 1629-30, f. 149; 1630-2, f. 223v; 1642-5, f. 1; 1645-8, f. 80.
- 5. Hist. of Worshipful Co. of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers comp. H. Stewart, 128.
- 6. GL, ms 2050/1, ff. 32v-8.
- 7. C231/5, pp. 75, 529; 231/6, p. 160; Western Circ. Assize Orders 1629-48 ed. J.S. Cockburn (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xvii), 236; Names of JPs (1650), p. 61.
- 8. C181/5, f. 21v.
- 9. E125/22, ff. 124v-5.
- 10. SR, v. 89, 156.
- 11. A. and O. i. 95, 542, 977; ii. 45, 311, 480.
- 12. Ibid. i. 117.
- 13. Ibid. i. 151, 236.
- 14. Ibid. i. 460.
- 15. Ibid. i. 475.
- 16. Ibid. i. 1244.
- 17. CJ, iv. 38b; SP23/5, f. 65.
- 18. CCC, 902.
- 19. A. and O. i. 658, 1016.
- 20. Ibid. 691.
- 21. Ibid. 853, 1208.
- 22. Sadler, 14; Wilts. RO, 374/550; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 202; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xcii), 97.
- 23. Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, appr. bk. 1, ff. 177, 220.
- 24. Daniel Hechstetter Memorabilia and Letters 1600-39 ed. G. Hammersley, 72, 171, 190, 206; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 229.
- 25. W.S. Prideaux, Mems. of Goldsmiths’ Co. i. 249.
- 26. Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J. Larkin and P. Hughes, i. 540-3.
- 27. APC, 1621-3, p. 259; 1623-5, p. 143.
- 28. Stuart Royal P