John Jennings (Royal Navy officer)

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Sir John Jennings
Admiral John Jennings (1664-17430), by Godfrey Kneller.jpg
Admiral John Jennings (Godfrey Kneller, 1708-1709)
Born 1664
Died 23 December 1743
Greenwich, London, Great Britain
Allegiance  Great Britain
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1687–1743
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS St Paul
HMS Experiment
HMS Victory
HMS Mary
HMS Chichester
HMS Plymouth
HMS Kent
HMS St George
Greenwich Hospital
Battles/wars War of Spanish Succession

Sir John Jennings (1664 – 23 December 1743) was a Royal Navy officer. He commanded HMS Kent at Cadiz and Vigo in 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the Jamaica Station, then Senior Naval Lord and finally Governor of Greenwich Hospital. He also served as a Member of Parliament.

Naval career[edit]

Born the son of Philip Jennings of Duddleston Hall, Jennings was descended from a Shropshire family which had suffered for its adherence to the Royalist cause during the English Civil War. He was appointed a lieutenant on HMS Pearl in 1687, and served with the same rank in HMS St David and HMS Swallow, before being promoted to the command of the St Paul, a fireship.[1]

In 1690 he was made captain of the newly launched HMS Experiment, of 32 guns, and employed in cruising off the coast of Ireland, where he intercepted a number of small vessels which were being used as transports by James II's forces.[2] In 1693, Jennings was nominated captain of the Victory, flagship of Sir John Ashby; later the same year he was transferred to the 62-gun HMS Mary, in which he went to the Mediterranean with Admiral Russell.[2] In 1696, he was removed to the Chichester, of 80 guns; and, in the following year, was entrusted with the command of the Plymouth, with which he captured a St Malo privateer.[1] Shortly afterwards, together with the frigate HMS Rye, he fell in with three French ships: one quickly surrendered, and Jennings, leaving the Rye to look after their prize, pursued the other two and succeeded in compelling one to strike her flag after a vigorous defence. Having conducted their prizes to port, the Rye and the Plymouth fell in with the Severn, a British man-of-war, and the three ships steered together for the coast of France, where they took five vessels laden with wine from Bordeaux, and a small ship of war.[3]

On the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, Jennings commanded HMS Kent (of 70 guns) under Admiral Rooke at Cadiz and Vigo in 1702, where he played a part in the destruction of the Franco-Spanish fleet. He took part in the capture of Gibraltar, and was captain of the 96-gun HMS St George at the Battle of Málaga in 1704. He was knighted for his exploits by Queen Anne on 9 September 1704, and having been promoted to rear admiral in 1705, became Commander-in-Chief of the Jamaica Station in 1706.[4] He was promoted to vice admiral in 1708 and admiral in 1709. His attack on Tenerife in 1706 was unsuccessful. He commanded the fleet off Lisbon from 1708 to 1710, and was later Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean.[1]

Jennings entered Parliament in 1705 and was regarded as a useful member of the House of Commons, in which he represented Queenborough, Portsmouth and Rochester - all boroughs with strong naval connections where his selection as an MP might be taken as a mark of the esteem in which his service record was held, but equally as an indication of the influence he could potentially wield on their behalf as a senior serving officer and later as a naval administrator. He joined the Board of Admiralty under the Whig government in October 1714[5] but stood down when the Government fell in April 1717.[5] He returned to the Admiralty Board under the Second Stanhope–Sunderland ministry in March 1718[5] and was advanced to Senior Naval Lord in September 1721.[6] After acquiring Newsells Bury at Barkway in Hertfordshire for his retirement,[2][7] he resigned from the Admiralty Board in June 1727 because his increasing deafness was preventing him from adequately fulfilling the duties. He was also appointed governor of Greenwich Hospital and Ranger of Greenwich Park from 1720, and presented the marble statue of George II by Rysbrack which stands in the Grand Square of the Hospital.[1]

Jennings died at Greenwich on 23 December 1743 at the age of 79, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.[8]


Jennings married Alice Breton; they had one son, George.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "John Jennings". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d  Laughton, John Knox (1892). "Jennings, John". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 29. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  3. ^ Campbell, p. 228
  4. ^ Cundall, p. xx
  5. ^ a b c "Sainty, JC, Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660-1870, Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660-1870 (1975), pp. 18-31". Retrieved 4 September 2009. 
  6. ^ Rodger, p. 51-52
  7. ^ Prince, p. 101
  8. ^ "Sir John Jennings". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas King
Robert Crawford
Member of Parliament for Queenborough
With: Thomas King
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Queenborough
With: Thomas King 1707–1708
Henry Withers 1708–1710
Succeeded by
Thomas King
James Herbert
Preceded by
Admiral George Churchill
Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Wager
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth
With: Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Wager
Succeeded by
Admiral Sir James Wishart
Sir William Gifford
Preceded by
Admiral Sir John Leake
William Cage
Member of Parliament for Rochester
With: Sir Thomas Palmer 1715–1724
Sir Thomas Colby 1724–1727
David Polhill 1727–1734
Succeeded by
David Polhill
Admiral Nicholas Haddock
Military offices
Preceded by
William Kerr
Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station
Succeeded by
Charles Wager
Preceded by
Sir George Byng
Senior Naval Lord
Succeeded by
Sir John Norris
Preceded by
Lord Aylmer
Governor, Greenwich Hospital
Succeeded by
Sir John Balchen
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Viscount Torrington
Rear-Admiral of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Thomas Mathews