Jenkins Family Origins

Jenkins Family Origins


Jenkins Family CrestThe Jenkins coat of arms is described heraldically as:

Arms: Per pale azure and sable, three fleur-de-lis or; Crest: A battle axe, handled or, headed proper; Motto: “Perge sed caute.”

Writers of the past have attributed symbolism to the tinctures and charges of heraldry - thus, azure (blue) is said to denote Loyalty, sable (black) denotes Wisdom, and or (gold) denotes Generosity. The motto may be translated as “Go forward, but cautiously.”

As with all very old families, it is impossible to trace the countless branches that become established over the centuries. However, these arms are typical of those early designs with which warriors decorated their shields to identify themselves in battle. The fleur-de-lis has since ancient times been the emblem of France, and often suggests a connection with that country. It is probable that the progenitor of the family in Britain came during the Norman invasion in 1066.

The surname Jenkins is an old family name that is frequently found in Wales, as well as England. One reference states that the family is of Flemish origin, originally being known as “Jonkin,” meaning “Son of John,” the name “John” being derived from the Old French “Johan.”

The earliest-found mention of this family dates back to 1288, where the name “Jonkin” is listed on the Assize rolls of Cheshire. Other early records mention Richard Jenekyn in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1296, but by the early fourteenth century the name appears as “Jenkins,” for a Richard Jenkins is listed on the Subsidy Rolls of Somerser for the year 1327.

History pays just tribute to the many persons bearing this old distinguished family name who attained distinction during the past thousand years, for many descendants of this family have occupied the highest positions in England, as well as Wales. Many outstanding statesmen came from its ranks, and public service is a family virtue.

John Jenkins (1592-1678) was the earliest-known English composer of instrumental music. But the first person bearing the Jenkins family name to settle in the New World was yet another John Jenkins, who came to America from Wales in 1642 and settled in Virginia. He was a colonel in the State Militia and held several public offices. He later became the Governor of North Carolina. Once genealogist regards him as the progenitor of the Jenkins family in the United States.

Today, persons bearing this proud old family name are to be found in almost every section of the country, and they are well represented in the arts, sciences, and professions, as well as in the world of commerce. To those seeking more detailed information, the following reference may prove helpful and interesting:

“Burke’s General Armory,” published by Harrision & Sons, London, 1884

“Fairbaim’s Book of Crests of Great Britain Ireland,” published by T.C. & E.C. Jack, London, 1905

Based on information from Morris Bros., deVillers & Co, Inc. 254 West 34th Street, New York, New York.