Humphrey Jennings (1629 - 1689) MP

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Nicknames: "Humphrey Jennens"
Birthplace: St. Martin's Church, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Death: Died in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Managed by: Val John Jennings
Last Updated:

About Humphrey Jennings

From the Cheek Family page on John Jennings, Sr. of Wilkes County, North Carolina:

http://www.moonzstuff.com/jennings/john1706.html

Cautionary Note: The Jennings Fortune

In Wilkes County Heritage, Vol. I (1982), p.188, the local historian and genealogist Mrs. W.O. Absher warns that "The Jennings legend circulated among many Jennings descendants in Wilkes County and elsewhere, is contradictory and very seldom corresponds with any records found." What was she referring to?

After spending many fruitless hours trying to verify a Jennings family tree I found on the internet, I learned the answer.' Do not trust any source that traces this family to Birmingham, England—especially family trees which show a connection to Humphrey Jennings (Jennens), the so-called "Ironmaster of Birmingham."'

The steel tycoon Humphrey Jennings was one of the richest men in England during the 18th century. His grandson William was an eccentric bachelor who died in 1799 with an unsigned will tucked in his coat pocket. The battle over the estate dragged on for more than a century. Decades after Williams' death, potential heirs were still crawling out of the woodwork. (See, for example, "A Miserly Monte Cristo; the Enormous Wealth of William Jennings", New York Times, Feb. 19, 1882, p.4.) Many speculate that the convoluted Jennings litigation inspired Charles Dickens's satirical novel Bleak House, which centers around a probate lawsuit that is "so complicated that no man alive knows what it means". The anticipation of fortune (never realized) drives some of the characters to madness and even suicide.

During the 19th century, many fraudulent family trees were created to drum up financial support for the litigation over the Jennings estate. A fascinating discussion of genealogy fraud and Jennings litigation appears in the article "Stranger than Fiction? The Jennens Inheritance in Fact and Fiction," by Patrick Polden, Common Law World Review, Vol. 32, No. 4, p.338 (2003). These family trees still circulate and are relied upon by unwitting descendants who know nothing about the legend of the Jennings fortune. Unfortunately, there is simply no proof that Ludewick Jennings of Wilkes County, North Carolina, was related in any way to the Jennings or Jennens family of Birmingham, England. According to Mrs. W.O. Absher, Ludewick Jennings was the son of John Jennings, who may have come to Wilkes County from Orange County, Virginia. No one to my knowledge has been able to trace the origins of John Jennings' family in England, where "Jennings" is a common surname.

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Humphrey Jennings's Timeline

1629
August 23, 1629
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
August 23, 1629
St. Martins,Birmingham,England
1657
August 1, 1657
Age 27
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
1658
1658
Age 28
Birmingham, Warwick, England
1659
January 29, 1659
Age 29
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
1661
1661
Age 31
1662
July 28, 1662
Age 32
St Martin, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
1664
July 4, 1664
Age 34
Birmingham,Warws,England
1669
1669
Age 39
Birmingham,Warws,England
1670
1670
Age 40
Birmingham,Warws,England