JENNINGS, James (1670-1739), of Shiplake, Oxon. and Lacey’s Court, Abingdon, Berks.
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Family and Education
bap. 26 June 1670, 1st s. of Robert Jennings, MA, of Shiplake, headmaster Abingdon free sch. 1657–83, by Mary, da. of James Jennens of Long Wittenham, Berks. educ. Abingdon free sch.; Wadham, Oxf. 1686. m. 1698, Frances, da. of Harry Constantine of Merley and Lake, Dorset, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1704.1
Sheriff, Oxon. 1694–5.
Freeman, Reading 1702, Wallingford 1708.2
Jennings’ Toryism was doubtless influenced by the experiences of his father, who had been ejected from a fellowship at St. John’s, Oxford and then from a post at Reading grammar school, in all probability because he had appeared in arms for Charles I as part of Oxford’s Royalist garrison. He had eventually found a profitable niche as headmaster of Abingdon’s free school, the salary of which reputedly enabled him to finance the purchase of Shiplake from the Plowden family, a fact that would account for his failure to resume his fellowship in 1660. By James II’s reign Robert Jennings was of sufficient status to be tendered the ‘three questions’, and refused to countenance the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act. For this he was removed from the Oxfordshire bench. He died in 1704 leaving most of his property to his son James, and appointing William Jennens* to oversee his will.3
Little is known about James Jennings’ career. In December 1694 his name was substituted for that of his father to serve as sheriff of Oxfordshire. The opportunity for him to take a parliamentary seat arose from the appointment of (Sir) Simon Harcourt I* as lord keeper in October 1710. At the resultant by-election Jennings was returned unopposed. He was associated with the Tories almost immediately, being included