JENNINGS, Edmund (1626-91), of Ripon, Yorks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 30 Nov. 1626, 1st s. of Jonathan Jennings (d.1649) of Ripon by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Giles Parker of Newby; bro. of Jonathan Jennings. educ. Silsden; Ripon g.s.; Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1641; L. Inn 1646. m. Margaret, da. of Sir Edward Barkham, 1st Bt.†, of Tottenham, Mdx. and Southacre, Norf., 4s. 3da. suc. gdfa. 1651; kntd. by 17 Aug. 1660.1
J.p. liberty of Ripon 1658-?Sept. 1688, Yorks. (W. Riding) Mar. 1660-?Sept. 1688, Nov. 1688-d., (N. Riding) 1683-?Feb. 1688; commr. for militia, Yorks. 1659, Mar. 1660, assessment (W. Riding) Jan. 1660-80, 1689-90, alderman, Ripon 1662-85, mayor 1663-4; dep. lt. (W. Riding) 1667-?87; commr. for concealed lands, Yorks. 1670, recusants (W. Riding) 1675; sheriff, Yorks. 1675-6.2
Commr. for prizes Mar. 1691-d.3
Jennings’s grandfather was granted arms in 1641 and became a passive Royalist in the Civil War. His father, a lawyer who settled in Ripon, was an active commissioner of array, compounding on a fine of £156. Jennings represented Ripon in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, the first of the family to sit, and hence considered himself eligible under the Long Parliament ordinance at the general election of 1660. He was involved in a double return with the republican general John Lambert but was seated by the House on the merits of the return on 3 May. Classed as a friend by Lord Wharton, he was probably appointed to only three committees in the Convention and may have voted with the Opposition. In the debate of 16 July he supported the motion of Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper to defer discussion of religious discipline for three months. He opposed the Lords’ amendment to the bill of indemnity for the total exception of all who sat in judgment on Charles I. Granted leave of absence on 28 Aug., he returned for the second session, and on 30 Nov. was a teller against receiving the report on the marital separation bill.4
Jennings lost his seat in 1661, when the Archbishop of York’s interest was re-established, but he was nominated alderman by the commissioners for corporations, and during his mayoralty promoted measures for the more stringent observance of the sabbath. He regained his seat at a by-election in 1673 and became a very active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 113 committees, in four of which he took the chair, spoke 34 times in debate and acted as a teller in 13 divisions. A consistent supporter of the Court, and a ‘creature’ of Danby’s, he did not countenance the attacks on Buckingham and Arlington in January 1674, and in 1675 resisted similar attacks both on Lauderdale and on Danby. In both sessions he was named to anti-papal committees, and on 12 May he reported a bill to ascertain the hearth-tax. In the autumn he was appointed to the committee for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy. In the debate of 27 Oct. he supported demands for Members to declare and refund any money paid them by reason of their offices or otherwise, and on 8 Nov., during the debate on supply, he opposed the motion for a land tax. Two days later he was named to the committee on the bill for recall of British subjects from the French service. The Opposition affected to consider his selection as sheriff of Yorkshire, which was alleged to be worth £1,000, as a breach of privilege, and carried a motion to that effect by 157 votes to 101. A committee was appointed to consider the proper way of discharging him, but Parliament was prorogued on 22 Nov. before any further action could be taken. His name appeared on both the working lists and the list of the court party in 1675 prepared by Sir Richard Wiseman, and he was included among the court speakers. The author of A Seasonable Argument alleged that he had been promised a pension and a place at Court.5
Jennings was a teller for Sir Richard Temple for the chair of the supply committee on 21 Feb. 1677, and on the following day he was among those to whom the bill to prevent illegal exactions was committed. He was appointed to the committee of 8 Mar. on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery, and on 27 Mar. was a teller in favour of committing the Lords bill for the Protestant education of the royal children. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘vile’. He was among those ordered to thank Sprat for his sermon on the anniversary of the royal martyrdom on 30 Jan. 1678. He was an advocate of supply for war against France, and on 29 Apr. he resisted opposition demands for deferring it until measures had been taken against Popery. He twice criticized general attacks on the King’s counsellors as pointless unless the offenders were mentioned by name, and on 19 Mar. was a teller in favour of accepting the Lords’ amendments to the address in favour of war with France. In July he again chaired a committee on the hearth-tax. He was a member of the committee on the bill to exclude Roman Catholics from Parliament, but in the debate of 21 Nov. supported the proposal to exempt the Duke of York from the terms of the bill, saying ‘the headache coming from an ill stomach, to cut off the hair and apply oils to the head will do no good’. Five days later he supported the suggestion of a search for all Papists who had remained in London in defiance of the royal proclamation. In the debate of 21 Dec. on Danby’s impeachment, Jennings spoke three times in his patron’s defence. He was listed as a government supporter by both Court and Opposition in 1678.6
Re-elected to the first Exclusion Parliament Jennings was noted as ‘base’ by Shaftesbury. An active Member, he was named to 12 committees, including those for summoning Danby to give himself up and the bill for regulating elections. He twice sought to hasten proceedings against the Popish lords in the Tower, and in the debate of 11 May attacked the expedient of exclusion as unnecessary, advocating instead a bill to banish all Papists who would not conform to the Church of England. Ten days later he voted against the bill. A warrant had been issued for the appointment of Jennings as joint surveyor of the customs at a salary of £1,000 p.a. in place of Charles Osborne, but never took effect, though Sir John Reresby included Jennings among several ‘put into good places at Court by means of his lordship [Danby]’, who ‘were all displaced’ on the treasurer’s fall.7
Jennings was defeated in August by the exclusionist Christopher Wandesford, and did not regain his seat until 1685. A very active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to 18 committees, taking the chair for the bills for a new parish in Soho and to forbid the import of tallow candles. He went into Opposition in the second session. After a long and great silence on 14 Nov. ‘he broke the ice’ by moving for the presentation of an address for the discharge of Roman Catholic officers from the army, and was appointed to the drafting committee. Two days later, during the debate on supply, he argued that the House should grant the relatively meagre sum of £200,000. ‘Giving all at once is doubting the affection of the people.’ The royal agents reported in 1688 that as a Ripon j.p. he ‘absolutely disallowed our commission and did conceive it inimical to answer to any questions of that nature not offered in Parliament’. In fact he asked the commissioners:
Whether for any man to deliver an opinion or resolution out of Parliament to endeavour the repeal of laws made for the security of the King and government be not an endeavouring an alteration of the government,
and was not such an attempt ‘criminal’? Although he had thus refused to answer in writing he did inform the agents orally that
he could not positively say how he should vote in the House, if elected, until he had informed his judgement by the debates, but at present thought that some Penal Laws might be repealed, but that the Tests should not be repealed.
He was defeated at the Ripon election of 1689, but sat in the Parliament of 1690 as a government supporter and placeman. He died early in September 1691 and was buried in St. Clement Danes. He was succeeded by his son, Jonathan, both in his estates and in the parliamentary representation of Ripon.8