The Kennedy Center

John Jenkins


John Jenkins (1592-1678)
Born in Maidstone, Kent
Died at Kimberley, Norfolk
British composer, who composed a great many sonatas for two violins, bass bowed instrument and keyboard.  He was a creative composer who produced a great number of works in a variety of styles and techniques. 
There is no information available to describe his early life, nothing is known of his teachers or his early training.  Although very little is known about his early years, he was the son of a carpenter named Henry Jenkins, who married Anne Jordaine in 1591.  His father was a Maidstone carpenter made musical instruments.  The first mention of his name in an historical record lists him among the musicians who performed the masque The Triumph of Peace in 1634 at the court of King Charles I.  He is one of the principal composer and chief composer of instrumental music in the mid-17th century. 
When the English Civil War broke out in 1642, he was forced to migrate to the English countryside.  His best friend was composer William Lawes, who was shot and died in battle at the siege of Chester.  He would go on to write a notable piece of music consisting of a pavane and galliard depicting the clash of opposing sides, the mourning for the dead and the celebration of victory after the siege of Newark (1646) as a remembrance tribute.  Around 1640 Jenkins revived the In Nomine, an archaic form for consort of viols, based upon a traditional plainsong theme.  He became a valued musician of his day and he was employed by several noble families throughout England.  During the 1640s he was employed as music-master to two Royal families, the Derhams at West Dereham and Harmon L'Estrange of Hunstanton.
At some point in the 1650s, he visited Lord Dudley Norths home at Kirtling, Cambridgeshire, becoming their resident master musician.  The Lord son Roger North wrote his biography.  And in 1668 he worked as a teacher to Roger and Montagu North.  In 1660, at the restoration of King Charles II to power, he was given a place as a theorbo-player to the Court, although he was too old to actually work it was more a gesture for token service.
The last years of his life were spent at retirement to the home of his patron Sir Philip Wodehouse at Kimberley, Norfolk, where he died.  He was buried in the church there on 29 October 1678.
John Jenkins