Jenkins, David

, an English lawyer, distinguished for his learning and eminence in his profession, and for his loyalty to Charles I. was descended from an ancient and honourable family, and born at flensol, in Glamorganshire, about 1586. He became commoner of Edmundhall, Oxford, in 1597, and after taking the degree of B. A. removed to Gray’s-inn, studied the law, and when admitted to the bar, rose to a considerable share of practice. In the first of Charles I. being a bencher, he was elected summer reader, but, for what reason we are not told, refused to read. He was afterwards made one of the judges for South Wales, an office which he accepted purely out of respect to the king, who gave him the patent without his paying any fees for it, as it cost him twice the annual salary (So/.) in travelling expences. He continued, however, in this office until the rebellion broke our, at which time he either imprisoned or condemned to death several persons in his circuit, for being guilty of high treason in bearing arms against the king. At length, being taken prisoner at Hereford, when that city was surprized by the parliamentary forces, he was carried up to London, and sent to the Tower, whence, being brought to the bar in chancery, he denied the authority of that court, because their seal was counterfeited, and consequently the commissioners of such a seal were constituted against law. On this he was committed to Newgate, impeached of treason, and brought to the bar of the House of Commons. On this occasion he behaved with undaunted spirit, denying their authority, and refusing to kneel. “In your speech,” said he, “Mr. Speaker, you said the House was offeuded with my behaviour, in not making any obeisance to you upon my coming here; and this was the more wondered at, because I pretended to be knowing in the laws of the land (having made it my study for these five-and-forty years), and because I am so, that was the reason of such my behaviour: For as long as you had the king’s arms engraved on your mace, and acted under his authority, had 1 come here, I would have bowed my body in obedience to his authority, by which you were first called. But, Mr. Speaker, since you and this house have renounced all your iduty and allegiance to your sovereign and natural | liegelord the king, and are become a den of thieves, should I bow myself in this house of llimmon, the Lord would not pardon me in this thing.

This provoked the House so much, that without any trial they voted him and sir Francis Butler guilty of high treason, and fixed the day of execution, on which judge Jenkins “resolved to suffer with the Bible under one arm, and Magna Charta under the other;” but his enemies were diverted from this design by a facetious speech of Harry Marten, a kind of parliamentary buffoon. He was, however, fined 1000l. for contempt, and committed to Newgate, and his estates sequestered. There seems some confusion in the dates of this affair as given in our autho^ rities; but it appears by Jenkins’s own account that he was imprisoned, in various places, in all about fifteen years. The parliament, however, were sensible of the weight of his character, and would have been glad to have gained him over by’any means. While in Newgate, they sent a committee, and made an offer to him, that if he“would own their power to be lawful, they would not only take off the sequestrations from his estate, which was about 500l. per annum, but would also settle a pension on him of 1000l. a year. To this he answered, that he never would allow rebellion, although successful, to be lawful. They then made another proposal, that he should have the same as mentioned above, if he would suffer them to put in print that he owned and acknowledged their power to be lawful and just, and would not gainsay it. To this he replied, that he would not connive at their doing so for all the money they had robbed the kingdom of, and should they be so impudent as to print any such matter, he would sell his doublet and coat to buy pens, ink, and paper, and would set forth the House of Commons in their proper colour. When they found him so firm, one of the committee used this motive,” You have a wife and nine children, who all will starve if you refuse this offer; so consider for their sakes; they make up ten pressing arguments for your compliance.“” What 1“said the judge,” did they desire you to press me in this matter?“” I will not say they did,“replied the other,” but I think they press you to it without speaking at all.“On this the old man’s anger was heightened to the utmost, and he exclaimed,” Had my wife and children petitioned you in this matter, I would have looked on her as a whore, and them as bastards." | The committee then departed, and judge Jenkins remained in Newgate, or in other prisons, until the restoration. Wood says that in 1656 he was set at liberty, and lived a while at Oxford, but this seems a mistake.

After the restoration he was designed to be made one of the judges in Westminster-hall, but refusing to comply with the usual demands of the perquisites on that occasion, which he thought unreasonable after having suffered so much*, he retired to his estate in Glamorganshire, then restored to him, and died at Cowbridge, in that county, Dec. 6, 1667, aged about eighty-one or two. He was buried at the west end of that church. He died as he lived, inculcating with his last breath, to his relations and friends, loyalty to his majesty and obedience to the laws of the land. He was a person of great ability in his profession, and was often consulted by sir John Banks and William Noy in their attorneyships. His vindication of himself, and several other occasional tracts of his writing, aJl very short, were printed in 1648, 12mo, under the title of liis “Works.” Most of these were written in prison, and have been often reprinted. He is also the author of “A preparative to the treaty with the king,” &c. 1648A Proposition for the safety of the king;” and a Reply to an Answer to it. But he is now chiefly known in the profession by his “Reports,” or “Eight Centuries of Reports solemnly adjudged in the exchequer chamber, or upon writs of error, from 4 Hen. III. to 21 Jac. I.” originally published in French, 1661, fol. and again in French 1734, folio; but the third edition was translated by Theodore Barlow, esq. with the addition of many references, and a table of the principal matters, and published in 1771 or 1777, folio. Mr. Bridgman adds to his publications another, which was published in 1657, 12mo, entitled “Pacis consultum, or a directory to the public peace, briefly describing the antiquity, extent, &c. of several county corporation courts, especially the court-leet,” &c. 1

1

Ath. Ox. vol. II. Biog. Brit. vol. VI. note C. in art. Talbot Dedication to his Works. Lloyd’s Memoirs, fol. Grey’s Examination of Ncal’s Puritans, vol. IV. p. 1. Eridgman’s Legal Bibliography.

*

In saying this, perhaps we have not the best authority. We have since seen a letter from sir Peter Pett to Anthony Wood, in which it is said, “that he was represented at court as a superannuated man and unfit for such a place;” and he certainly was at this time far beyond the age of active life and mental powers. It is well known that Wood was prosecuted and severely punished for having asserted in his “Athense” that he might have been made one of the judges “would he have given money to the then lord chancellor” (Clarendon). Letters by ciuineut Persons, 1813, 3 vols. 8vo.

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