John Jennings (St Albans MP)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sir John Jennings KB (died August 1642) was an English nobleman and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1628 and 1642: he is now chiefly remembered as the grandfather of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and of her nemesis Abigail Masham. He is also notable for the extraordinary number of children he fathered, all from one marriage.

Sir John Jennings of Sandridge in Hertfordshire succeeded his father, another Sir John Jennings, as head of the family in 1609; his father is said to have become insane some years before his death. He was High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1626 and was created Knight of the Bath in the same year. In 1628 he was elected Member of Parliament for St Albans and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.[1]

Jennings was re-elected MP for St Albans in April 1640 for the Short Parliament and again in November 1640 for the Long Parliament.[1] He was a sympathiser with the Parliamentary cause, but died before the outbreak of the English Civil War.

John Jennings was married to Alice, daughter of Sir Richard Spencer of Offley and Helen Brocket, and they had 22 children, most of whom survived infancy. His will names three of his children, Richard, Alice and Robert. [2]His wife's will names four more children, Ralph, George, Elizabeth and Grace. Lady Jennings died in 1663.[3]

Jennings' eldest son, Richard, succeeded him as MP for St Albans. Richard's daughter, Sarah, married the 1st Duke of Marlborough and was the confidant of Queen Anne. She was in time supplanted in the Queen's affections by her cousin Abigail Masham, who through her mother Elizabeth Hill was another of John Jennings' grandchildren. Sarah was later in her Memoirs to write that, because there were so many descendants of her grandfather, she had not so much as known of Abigail's existence until they were both well into adult life. On learning of Abigail's existence and of her poverty-stricken state as a servant, she took her (and her sister Alice) into her own household, with ultimately disastrous political results for herself and her husband.


  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Charles Morrison, 1st Baronet
Sir Edward Goring
Member of Parliament for St Albans
With: Robert Kirkham
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for St Albans
With: Richard Coningsby 1640
Edward Wingate
Succeeded by
Richard Jennings
Edward Wingate