Friday, March 4, 2016

The Jennison Family: Part I

Back in 2010, I attended the Salt Lake Institute hoping to verify the identity of the mother of James Morris Simmons. James' death certificate gave his parents as John Simmons and Dolly Simmons. I had located a set of undocumented pedigree charts  for the Simmons family that identified Mrs. Simmons as "Dolly Jennison." A search of the Family History Library catalog showed a book by Howard Jennison entitled "Jennison Family History." I had hoped that the book would help answer my Problem Solving question. The result? More than I could hope for! I located Dolly's information on pages 141-143. Included was a copy of a letter written by Dolly to her sister, Chloe Eldridge on 18 November 1860 from New Lisbon, Henry Co., Indiana. Dolly had updated her sister on several of the Simmons issue. Among those mentioned was her son Morris. Identity confirmed!! The door was opened to the Jennison family and several other allied families that had been previously unknown to me. It turned out to be quite a week of research!

The Jennison Family:

First Generation

1.  Robert Jennison1 was born about 1585 in England.1 Roy Jennison's research shows Robert Jennison, born about 1585 in England, as the father of William and Robert.  No documentation is provided.
The Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22 [Sir Leslie Stephens] ( gives capsules of several Jenisons. Those that cover the years 1584-1667 are as follows: Robert [1584?-1652] who was a puritan son of Ralph Jenison and a lecturer in Newcastle. (He had issue: Robert, Elizabeth, Mary & Thomas)*
Robert [1590-1656], a jesuit, was his cousin, son of William of Walworth Castle in Durham and grandson of Thomas, auditor-general of Ireland. Robert was admitted to Grays Inn in 1615.
Robert [1649-1688] was admitted to Grays Inn in 1676 and was the son of John of High Walworth.

More research must be conducted to connect brothers William and Robert to any of the above Jenisons. That William had dealings with residents of Grays Inn is a very compelling argument.

Burke's Encyclopedia of Heraldry describes three different coats of arms for the surname Jenison. The family of Walworth and the Newcastle line are shown with "azure (blue), bend (gold) between two swans (silver). For a Jenison line of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Wales the arms is the same except the bend is described as wavy. The surname Jenysonn [Burnham West Gate, Norfolk] has the same arms with the addition of three red roses, which is the coat of arms shown in the Jennison book. [Online variations from companies selling family coats of arms show the bend diagonally and horizontally (which should be called a fesse.)] Perhaps the roses were added to distinguish Protestant from Catholic.
*Taken from the book Men of Mark 'twixt Tyne and Tweed:' D-J [Jenison-Wade-McLeod Tree;]

Elizabeth Favour?2 was born (date unknown).

Robert Jennison and Elizabeth Favour? had the following children:

              2              i.   William Jennison, born 1600–1609, England; married Elizabeth [Jennison]; died 1667, Colchester, Essex, England.

              3             ii.   Robert Jennison, born 1606–1615, Colchester, Essex, England; married Grace [Jennison], abt 1639, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; married Elizabeth Kilbourn?, abt 1635, probably England; died 4 Jul 1690, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

Second Generation

2.  William Jennison34 (Robert-1) was born in 1600–1609 in England.3 He died in 1667 at the age of 67 in Colchester, Essex, England.4 William Jennison was Robert's elder brother. There has been speculation that Robert was "very much younger than his brother William." [Estimates on Robert's birth range from 1607-1615.] Anderson's article in the GMB gives William's birth as late as 1609, but probably much earlier based on his residence in Bermuda before arriving in New England.
William's first appearance in Bermuda was probably during the mid to late 1620s. Such a time frame would place his birth around 1604-1608. Whether he returned to England before heading for New England is not known. It has been speculated that he arrived with the Winthrop Fleet.*

William's name is on a list of emigrants from the shire of Middlesex, England
appearing in Charles Edward Banks'
Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650 (Philadelphia, 1937) [World Vital Records]. Banks gives Jennison's home parish as Holborn, which is part of London.
Jennison arrived at Charlestown, where he requested to be admitted as a freeman on 19 October 1630. Freemanship was granted on 18 May 1631. On 16 August 1631 he was chosen ensign [a sort of magistrate or constable] to Captain Patrick. Jennison was named to a committee on 13 June 1634 to represent Charlestown at the General Court in September. By 4 March 1634/5 he was Deputy to the General Court for Watertown, a position held through 1645.

Jennison piloted the
Thunder to Bermuda in the fall of 1633. He reported to Gov. Winthrop by 1 June 1634 that there had been great change in Bermuda since he dwelt there.
Jennison was granted sixty acres in the Great Dividend at Watertown on 25 July 1636. He was also granted 10 acres in the Beaverbrook Plowlands [28 February 1636/7], another 10 acres in the Remote Meadows [26 June 1637], 200 acres at the "furthest end of Watertown & near to Dedham bounds [6 September 1638], and a 150 acre farm [10 May 1642].

He was appointed one of the leaders of the expedition to avenge the murder of John Oldham by Indians on Block Island on 25 August 1636.** Jennison went on to serve in the Pequot War which was ignited by Oldham's death.

Ensign Jennison was a founding member of the Ancient and Honorable Atrillery Company formed 13 March 1638/9 and served as a captain in the unit.

Captain Jennison had financial dealings with Richard Spitty of Grays Inn, Middlesex, England, and
  Robert Scott, a Boston haberdasher, in July of 1639. [Holborn Parish borders Grays Inn.]
By 2 November 1643 William had sold 70 acres to Thomas Ruck. About 1645, he sold his homestead to Rev. John Knowles.

William's loyalty to the Crown was brought into question in July 1644.
  He expressed the opinion that he agreed with the position of Parliament, but if still in England could not act against the King. The magistrates accepted his views and no action was taken against the captain.
On 2 October 1645 William requested to be dismissed from service to the court as he was preparing for an expedition to Virginia. On 27 June 1646 Jennison was authorized by the Earl of Warwick to examine the vessel
Warwick, which had been abandoned in Boston Harbor by Captain Chaddocke several years earlier. If the ship could be repaired, Jennison was to fit it for sea and repay himself from profits of the first voyage. Otherwise the ship was to be sold for the best price William could get.
William Jennison elected to return to England in 1651. William's brother assumed his debts, which were satisfied in 1653. William left Robert as attorney in charge of his Massachusetts properties. On 8 April 1657 the 200 acre tract [in what was by that time Framington] was sold to Edmund Rice of Sudbury, by Robert Jennison.

Early sources make no mention of a wife for William Jennison. However Colchester records prove differently. On 29 May 1654, James Lemyng of Grays Inn, Middlesex conveyed to "William Jennison of Colchester, esquire, and wife Elizabeth" for the sum of £400, 12 acres of land in Lexden, "now in occupation of Abraham Barrington, abutting to the north, south and east on river Colne and to the west on demense land of manor of Lexden." [Seax-Essex Archives Online: D/DC 40/8]

No marriage record has been located for William and Elizabeth. They may have been married in England, Bermuda, or Massachusetts.

William named his wife Elizabeth executrix of his will in 1667 and left his house to Samuel Jennison [son of brother Robert.]

Elizabeth Jennison, widow of Colchester, wrote her will 7 June 1681; it was proved 3 October 1683. She requested to be buried "by the body of my loving husband Captain William Jennison" in the burying ground at St. Marys-beyond-the-Wall. (St. Marys-on-the-Wall) She made a bequest to John Knowles, who like the Jennisons, had returned to England. [Seax-Essex Archives Online: D/ABW 70/321 - Will of Elizabeth Jennison, widow, Colchester, Essex.]

Several researchers state that the 1657 sale of property proves that the Jennisons were from Colchester. The Middlesex emigrant list shows William as having been from Holbron Parish before arriving in Massachusetts. He also had dealings with at least two men from Grays Inn [Spitty in 1639 and Lemyng in 1654] which neighbored Holbron Parish.

Whether William and Robert were natives of Colchester and moved to the London area, or were Londonites and William chose to settle in Colchester upon his return has yet to be determined.

*The name Jennison, Jennings, Gennerson, or any other known early variations of the surname, does not appear in Banks'
The Winthrop Fleet of 1630.  **For further details on the Oldham incident see Vol. II, p. 40, "The Oldham Family."

William Jennison and Elizabeth [Jennison] were married.4 Elizabeth [Jennison]4 died in 1683 in Colchester, Essex, England.4

3.  Robert Jennison2,58 (Robert-1) was born in 1606–1615 in Colchester, Essex, England.1 He died on 4 Jul 1690 at the age of 84 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.1 Robert Jennison's year of birth is open to some debate. If Elizabeth was indeed 30 when she died in 1638, then it is estimated Robert would have been born a year or two earlier, say, 1606 or 1607. It was rare for a man to marry a woman several years his senior in the 1600s. However, it was also believed that Robert was several years younger than brother William, due to the fact that he was not made a freeman until 1645. His birth is estimated to have fallen between 1607 and 1615.
Robert arrived in America from Colchester, England as early as 1630 [when his brother William arrived] and as late as 1637 to seek "Liberty of conscience." He first settled in Charleston, Massachusetts then removed to Watertown by April 1637. Robert was made a freeman there in May of 1645.

He was granted six lots in Watertown. His six acre homestead was located where Cambridge Road [now Mt. Auburn St.] meets Bank Lane, east of Mill Bridge. Jennison had acquired 80 acres by 1644.

Three of Robert's children survived to adulthood, daughters Elizabeth and Michal and son, Samuel. A third daughter was born to the family between 1646 and 1648. [There is also the possibility that there were two sons who died in infancy. One born about 1636 to Elizabeth and a second born to Grace, probably between 1641 and 1644.]

Robert hired a nurse maid, the wife of John Kendall and widow of Samuel Holley, to help care for the child. In 1648 Goody Kendall was charged with bewitching and causing the death of a child of "Goodman Gennings of Watertown." Goody Kendall was executed as a witch. Jennison was asked if he thought Kendall had bewitched the child, he did not. He said that the nurse maid had taken the child out in the evening and kept her out for a long time. As a result, the infant had been struck with a cold in the red gums [possibly swollen or infected gums] causing her death.

In 1657 he was fined one shilling for allowing his porkers too much freedom. The next year Robert and his son-in-law Richard Bloise contracted to pay £5 per year for the use of "Ould Knop's" [Knap] meadow and corn land. Knap was an old man being cared for by the town.
    Robert's will dated 15 September 1688, was proved 27 October 1690. He named his wife Grace [his whole estate, with liberty to dispose of 1/3 of the movables] daughter, "Mikell" Warren [40 shillings] , son-in-law, George Reed [20 shillings], and grandsons, William and Robert Jennison [the land that had belonged to William Jennison]. Son Samuel was named sole executor and beneficiary after the death of Grace. Grace preceded Robert in death, so a codicil was added on 2 April 1687. "Micaell" received an addition £5, Robert 30 acres of the farm, and "for reasons best known to myself" voided the bequest to George Reed.
Robert Jennison and Grace [Jennison] were married about 1639 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.1 Grace [Jennison] was born about 1615 in probably England.1 She died on 26 Nov 1686 at the age of 71 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.1

Robert Jennison and Grace [Jennison] had the following children:

              4              i.   Michal/Michell Jennison, born 17 Dec 1640, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; married Richard Bloise, 10 Feb 1657/8, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; married Captain John Warren, 11 Jul 1667, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; died 14 Jul 1713, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

              5             ii.   Ensign Samuel Jennison, born 16 Oct 1645, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; married Judith Newcomb, 30 Oct 1666, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; died 15 Oct 1701, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

                            iii.   Daughter Jennison9 was born circa 1647 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.9 She died circa 1648 at the age of 1 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.9 The child apparently died from a cold settling in her gums in 1648. The nurse maid hired to care for the child was accused of bewitching her and executed as a witch.

Robert Jennison and Elizabeth Kilbourn? were married about 1635 in probably England.1,6 Elizabeth Kilbourn?6,1011 was born in 1614 in Wood Ditton, Cambridgeshire, England.1,6,10 She was baptized on 12 May 1614 in Wood Ditton, Cambridgeshire, England.6 She died on 30 Oct 1638 at the age of 24 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.1 Watertown records note that Elizabeth was aged 30 when she died in 1638, thus born about 1608. That would have made her as much as seven years older than Robert, quite unusual for that era.
Mary Walton Ferris included a note on Elizabeth's background in her chapter on the Jennisons. She felt that the recorded age of 30 at Elizabeth's death in 1638 was in error. Ferris points to the will of Frances [Moody] Kilbourn, widow of Thomas, of 1650, in which she supposedly made a bequest to her granddaughter Elizabeth
Spencer. Ferris claimed this was an error and should have read Elizabeth Generson or Geneson.
In her Kilbourn chapter, Ferris shows Elizabeth Kilbourne, born 1614, as not emigrating to Massachusetts with her parents, but amends this in the book's "additions and corrections" [Vol. II, p. 476].
Ernest H. Helliwell III had an article published in the January 2009 issue of the NEHGS Register [Vol. 163, p. 16-18] entitled
"Was Elizabeth Kilbourn the First Wife of Hugh Gunnison of Boston and Kittery?" Helliwell disputed Ferris' argument that the Watertown records were in error and the Elizabeth Jennison who died at "age 30" was not Elizabeth Kilbourn.

Robert Jennison and Elizabeth Kilbourn? had the following child:

              6              i.   Elizabeth Jennison, born 12 Apr 1637, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; married George Read/Reed, 2 Oct 1652, Woburn, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts; died 26 Feb 1664/5, Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

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