Steven Butler's Family History Website

BIOGRAPHIES INDEX

Biographies

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 JENKINS [2] (Prob. July 4, 1675-ABT. 1720)

Unfortunately, we have very little information about William Jenkins [2]. What we suspect is that he was the son of William Jenkins [1] and therefore that he was born on July 4, 1675 in Somerset County, Maryland, that his mother's name was Ann, that he had a younger sister named Elizabeth, that he had a stepmother and stepsister both named Alce, Alse, or Alice, and that in 1688, at the age of thirteen, he was apprenticed to a carpenter named Joseph Venables for a term of seven years.

What we know for certain is that William Jenkins [2] lived in Baltimore County, Maryland during the early eighteenth century, by which time, notwithstanding any training he may have received in carpentry, he had become a weaver. Textile production in those times was known as a "cottage industry." Until 1790, there were no factories in America that produced thread or cloth using machinery. Generally, the entire family was involved. No doubt William Jenkins [2] spent his days bent over a large handloom that probably took up the greater part of a room in his house. His wife Sarah (Cullen) Jenkins, who he married about 1698, probably used a spinning wheel to make the thread and yarn that her husband turned into cloth. Perhaps William's daughters also spun thread. His sons may have carded wool or helped keep the loom and spinning wheels in good repair.

We know that William Jenkins [2] also grew tobacco, which was the primary cash crop of the region in which he lived. A deed dated August 2, 1715 is our earliest public record of him. It tells us that on that date William Jenkins purchased 50 acres of land on the north side of Deer Creek, in Baltimore County, Maryland, from George Freeland, a local planter, and his wife Mary. The price was 1,500 pounds of tobacco. Logic decrees that if William was able to grow a ton-and-a-half of this particular commodity, he must have already been a landowner; but tobacco was hard on the soil, using up within three or four years all the nutrients it needed to grow. As a consequence, planters were continually acquiring new land. This also meant that they spent a lot of their time engaged in the backbreaking work of clearing a field. Trees had to be chopped down and the stumps removed. No doubt William's sons were helpful to him in this task.

One historian, D. W. Meinig, has described what he calls "Greater Virginia" (the Chesapeake Bay area that included Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania) as it existed during the early eighteenth century, the time when our Jenkins ancestors were first establishing their home in this region. It is useful for gaining a better idea of the world in which they lived. Writes Meinig:

To the traveler from another country Virginia and the Chesapeake margins may have seemed no more than semisettled or even half-abandoned after more than a century of colonization. It was an unkempt landscape, a disorderly pattern of natural woods and swamps, half-cleared land studded with stumps and skeletons of giant trees, old fields disappearing under a ragged regrowth, with farming confined to a patch of tobacco and a few small fields of corn and wheat. Long narrow tobacco barns, rough outbuildings, and rude dwellings, some of these standing unused, characterized a common scene. Yet the land was all owned, mostly by local persons, and much of it was being used, despite the appearance of so much waste. Tobacco was an intensive crop, harsh in its demands upon labor and soil. Thus it was grown in small acreages and shifted onto plots of fresh ground every few years, while the old fields were given over to natural recuperation. Although no more than a tenth or so of the land was in cultivation at any time, over the course of a few generations, much of it was cropped and most was used casually for lumbering, grazing, and hunting all the while. It was a form of shifting cultivation, and the simple buildings, including at times the house, might be shifted to or replaced at new sites periodically.

Meinig also tells us that "for all [its] growth in population and commerce, the Chesapeake region remained a peculiarly rural country" that had "no city, no regional focus, and despite a century of repeated governmental degrees to induce them, no substantial set of market towns." In their place, he continues, "there were a few small ports of recent growth and uncertain prospects, two small provincial capitals [Williamsburg, Virginia and Annapolis, Maryland] enlivened only in the political seasons, and a scattering of ramshackle river hamlets."

The history books also tell us that disease took a high toll on the early Chesapeake Bay settlers. It should not be surprising, therefore, that our next and final record of William Jenkins, Sr. is his will, written on November 22, 1720 and proved in court in Baltimore County on May 2, 1721. Although we donít know exactly when he died, it was obviously sometime between those two dates. To his son, William Jenkins (Jr.), he left the property he had purchased five years earlier from George Freeland. It is referred to in the will as "Freelandís Mount." To his sons Francis and Thomas and his daughters Sarah and Alis and Alisí "unborn child," he left £5 each, to be paid "at day of marriage." Williamís widow Sarah was named as executrix of his will.

Itís likely that Sarah Jenkins was still fairly young when her husband William died. On August 16, 1722, a little more than a year after he passed away, she remarried. Her second husband was named Edward Lowry. Tragically, Sarahís second marriage was even shorter than the first. On April 28, 1723, Edward also died, leaving her alone once more, to raise her children on her own.

After nearly six years of widowhood, Sarah Cullen Jenkins Lowry married for a third, and, so far we know, final time. On February 21, 1729, in Baltimore County, she became the wife of William Gilpin. What became of her after that date is unknown.


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


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