John Jennings, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

JOHN1 JENNINGS, HARTFORD FOUNDER was born abt. 1586 in England, and died aft. 1668 in North Sea, Long Island, NY. He married _______ _______ abt. 1618 in England. She was born abt. 1590 in England, and died aft. 1625 in England.

John Jennings (Jennings, Ginnings) apparently emigrated to the American colonies after the arrival of his son Nicholas (who was also a Hartford founder), but was in Hartford before September 1639, when the town ordered that he sweep all the chimneys. In the Hartford land inventory of February 1639/40 he had three lots: his house lot of approximately two acres on the road from the Old Oxpasture to the Cow Pasture; a parcel in the Pine Field; and five acres of upland abutting on the Little Oxpasture. He seems not to have held any public offices, and his children were frequently in trouble with the Hartford authorities.

The clashes of his son Hartford Founder Nicholas are described in his own precis. Joshua Jennings was in court on 6 September 1649 for failing to watch one night and “other ill carriages to the Constable” and had to pay for the watchman who took his place and was fined two shillings. His wife was in court on 7 December 1648 on charges of slander and was required to pay a fine and the costs of the court. On 3 November 1650 Greenfield Larrabee and Stephen Daniel were required to convey Joshua Jennings to the court for some unspecified offense, but instead of facing the court in Hartford he removed with his family to Fairfield, Connecticut.

On 2 September 1641 John Jennings the younger was in court for “desisting the watch several times and was fined 40 shillings and to find sureties for his good behavior”. On 7 December 1648 the Court ruled that John Jennings should serve “Jeames Northam first so long as hee couenanted with him, and when his time is out with Northam that then hee should serve Stephen Harte in the next place”. However, he did not maintain good behavior during this period, for on 6 December 1649 “John Jennings, for he is filthy and prophane speeches and carriages, is adjudged to lie in prison till next Thursday morning after the Catechising, and then to be publicly whipped, and so returne to prison againe for a month after that...”.

The birthdate of John Jennings the elder is an approximation based on the estimated birthdate of his son Nicholas, but he could have had unknown older children. In Robert Charles Anderson’s Great Migration article on son Nicholas, he states “his death date was at the most before 26 February 1646/47” when his son Nicholas sold land which had come to him from his father, and could have been considerably earlier. However, in the listings of the first members of the First Church of Hartford, John Jennings is noted to have removed to Southampton. and in “The Early History of Southampton, L. I., New York” it is stated that he was first mentioned as being in Southampton in 1657 (pg. 330), and that he was on a list of inhabitants of North Sea in 1668 (pg. 33). Finally, the mill rates of John Jennings in Hartford are listed up to the year 1657 (“Original Distribution of Lands in Hartford”, pg 496).

Genealogy: Not recommended: “A Genealogical History of the Jennings Families in England and America, Vol. 2 - The American Families” by William Henry Jennings, 1889. Undocumented; in the section on Connecticut Jennings, the author confuses John Jennings2 with John1, proceeding to attribute to John1 the children of John2 – and so on.

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