Steven Butler's Family History Website



The Jenkins Family
William Jenkins [1] | William Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [1] | Francis Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [3]
Lorenzo C. Jenkins | Thos. William Jenkins | William N. Jenkins | William Ollie Jenkins

William Jenkins [1]
ABT. 1650--D.O.D. Unknown

The English colony of Maryland was founded in 1632 by an English nobleman named Lord Baltimore, supposedly as a refuge for Roman Catholics hoping to escape persecution in their native land. Contrary to popular belief, however, the number of Catholics who lived there was relatively small. Attracted by Lord Baltimore's policy of religious freedom for all, a large number of Puritans also immigrated to Maryland. So many came, in fact, that they soon outnumbered the Catholics. Members of the established Anglican, or Protestant Episcopal, church also settled in Maryland, as well as numerous Quakers. Our Jenkins ancestors appear to have been Anglicans.

There is some evidence suggesting that our earliest Jenkins ancestor to immigrate to the "New World" was a man named William Jenkins, who on September 22, 1670 in Bristol, England, signed a labor contract, agreeing to become an indentured servant to a Somerset County, Maryland tobacco planter named Richard Gibbs for a period of four years. Jenkins, who was probably in his late teens or early twenties at the time this agreement was made, arrived on Maryland's Eastern Shore as a passenger aboard the ship Richard & James, which almost certainly sailed from Bristol sometime shortly after the above date.1

English shios by William Halsall

It appears that Jenkins survived not only the transatlantic voyage to America, which in those days took from six to eight oftentimes perilous weeks, but also the almost certainly grueling four years of his indenture, for on August 25, 1674, in Somerset County, Maryland, one William Jenkins married a young woman named Ann Stadley (or Studley). County clerk Robert Maddock officiated.2 In the absence of any contrary evidence, I believe that this particular William Jenkins is almost certainly the very same man who immigrated to Maryland four years earlier from Bristol, England as an identured servant.

On July 4, 1675, a little more than ten months after their marriage, Ann Jenkins gave birth, at Annemessex, Somerset County, Maryland, to a son who was named William. This first child was followed by the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth, on September 24, 1676.3 The absence of any further recorded births for this couple suggests that Ann either died as a consequence of giving birth to her daughter or perhaps while giving birth to third child that did not survive. It should be noted however, that this explanation is at present only speculation.

In 1677 a colonist named William Jenkins, very likely the same man as noted above, received a patent from Maryland's proprietor, Lord Baltimore, for a 100-acre tract of land, located in Somerset County. It was surveyed on July 4, 1677.4 The name of the tract, "Little Usk," suggests that its owner was a native of the Vale of Usk, or the Usk River Valley, which is located in Monmouthshire, Wales, which is very near the port of Bristol, from where William Jenkins the indentured servant departed in 1670.

Further evidence suggesting not only that Ann Jenkins died after giving birth to her daughter Elizabeth but also that her husband subsequently remarried comes from a deed of gift on file in the Maryland Archives in which a Somerset County man named William Jenkins, with a wife named Alce (or Alice?) gave his stepdaughter Alse (or Alice?) Hill, "four Cows and two Cow calves." The document, dated November 14, 1689, notes that Jenkins' wife is the "relict [i.e., widow] of John Hill deceased."5

On July 4, 1688 William Jenkins of Annemessex, Maryland, apprenticed his thirteen-year-old son (on the anniversary of his son's birth), to a carpenter named Joseph Venables, also of Somerset County. The agreement read as follows:

This Indenture made in Annimessex this 4th day of July One thousand six hundred 88 Between Joseph Venables Carpenter on the one party and William Jenkins of the other part Witnesseth that the said William Jenkins hath with his free consent bound his Sonn an Apprentice unto the sd Joseph Venables his Heirs Extrs for the full term and space of seven years to Serve the said Joseph Venables faithfully, and the sd Wm. Jenkins Junior shall behave himselfe in every point and respect as becometh an Apprentice in Consideracion whereof the sd Joseph Veneables doth Covenant himselfe to teach him his Art of Carpenter or Cause to be taught and instructed with due correction finding unto his said prentice, meat, drink, lodging apparel and all other necessaryes and to teach him to read and write, and the said apprentice shall not waste the goods of his said Master nor lend them unlawfully to any one he shall not comit fornication nor contract Matrimony within the said term he shall not play at Cards, dice tables or any other unlawfull games, whereby his Master may have any loss with his own goods or others dureing the sd terme without License from his said Master, he shall neither buy nor sell, he shall not be absent from his sd Masters Service day or night unlawfully but in all things as a faithfull Apprentice behave himselfe, in Wittness whereof both parties have hereunto Interchangeably set their hands and Seals the day and year above written. Signed Sealed and Delivered in ye presence of us

WILLIAM [Joseph?] VENABLES marke6

On August 14, 1690 in Somerset County Court, Joseph Venables sued William Jenkins, "late of Somerset County," for unlawfully detaining William Junior on and after June 4 or 5, 1689, after the lad apparently came home for a visit, after which his father would not permit him to return to Venables, saying that he "could not spare the Boy from planting of tobacco." According to Venables and his sister Martha, who seemed to have some particular interest in the case, Jenkins had kept his son at home "ever since." Venables sought not only the return of his apprentice but "damage to the value of ten thousand pounds of tobacco."7

Although Jenkins was ordered to "Send the said William Jenkins Junior forth with, or at furthest before Weddnesday [sic] next to his Said Master Joseph Venables," assigning a man named Thomas Jones as "Security" to make sure it was done,8 the court put off assessing the actual amount of damages owed to Venables.9 Unfortunately, there seems to be no further record of this case, leaving us to wonder how many pounds (or pounds worth) of tobacco Jenkins was required to pay.

Our last significant mention of William Jenkins in the records of Somerset County is the will of John Winder, to which Jenkins simply attested as to its authenticity when it was probated on September 23, 1698 in the Somerset County Court.10

The date and place of death of William Jenkins [1] is presently unknown but it is conjectured that if he is in fact our ancestor, he moved sometime during the last decade of the seventeenth century to Baltimore County, where in all probability he expired sometime during the early eighteenth century.


1. Peter Wilson Coldham, The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654-1686 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1988), 269.

2. Robert William Barnes, Maryland Marriages, 1634-1777 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1975), 97.

3. Early Vital Records (1666-1699); Somerset Co., MD-(Part 2 of 4) Pages 56-142, transcribed by Osiris Johnson from CR 50,078 of the Maryland Archives [Accessed 12 June 2011].

4. Hester Dorsey Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, with Sketches of Early Maryland Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1995), 315.

5. Archives of Maryland Online, Somerset County Judicial Records, 1689-1690, volume 106, page 4, deed from William Jenkins to Alse Hill <> [Accessed 13 June 2011].

6. Somerset County, Maryland Judicial Records, 1689-1690, vol. 106, page 159, case of Joseph Venables vs. William Jenkins <> [Accessed 13 June 2011].

7. Somerset County, Maryland Judicial Records, 1689-1690, vol. 106, page 160, case of Joseph Venables vs. William Jenkins <> [Accessed 13 June 2011].

8. Ibid.

9. Somerset County, Maryland Judicial Records, 1689-1690, vol. 191, page 9, case of Joseph Venables vs. William Jenkins <> [Accessed 16 June 2011].

10. Jane Baldwin Cotton, ed., The Maryland Calendar of Wills, vol. ii, 1685-1702 (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, Publishers, 1906), 181.

The Jenkins Family
William Jenkins [1] | William Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [1] | Francis Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [3]
Lorenzo C. Jenkins | Thos. William Jenkins | William N. Jenkins | William Ollie Jenkins

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