Select Jenner Surname Genealogy

The root of Jenner was the French engigneor or engineer.  At the time of the Norman Conquest the name described the men who dug the military siege trenches and worked the catapults and siege machines. 

Most Jenners were to be found in southeast England in East Sussex and across the border into Kent.  The story goes that there were "engineers" who had come over with William the Conqueror but had become disgruntled for their lack of reward.  So they refused to integrate into the newly conquered country and stayed in the East Sussex area where they had landed.

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England.  Jenner has been a relatively common name in Sussex and Kent and was also to be found in the west country, in Gloucestershire.. 

Sussex  The name in Sussex was to be found in coastal towns such as Hastings and Brighton and in wealden villages such as Withyham, Worth, Ticehurst, and Wadhurst.  Thomas Jenner from Mayfield was a judge who rose to become Baron of the Exchequer and a Justice of the Common Pleas in the 1680's.  Two Jenner brothers from Rotherfield founded the Jenner brewery in London

Kent  A Jenner family originally from Brede in East Sussex were cutlers in Cranbrook in Kent in the 1600's.  Other Jenners were stone cutters in the quarries near Tunbridge Wells.  And Jenners were country gentry in Chislehurst, Kent from the 1750’s and possibly earlier.  The Kent town of Chatham on the Medway could boast to be the birthplace in 1810 of Charles Jenner, the founder of Jenners of Edinburgh, and in 1815 of Sir William Jenner, Queen Victoria’s doctor.  Less famous was George Jenner, born there in 1814, who became a shoemaker.  

Gloucestershire  The most renowned Jenner was not from Sussex or Kent.  Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley, Gloucestershire in 1749, the son of the local vicar, and he spent most of his career as a doctor in his native town.  In 1796 he carried out his now famous experiment on eight-year-old James Phipps.  He was testing the theory, drawn from the folklore of the countryside, that milkmaids who suffered the mild disease of cowpox never contracted smallpox, one of the greatest killers of the period.  Jenner subsequently proved that Phipps, after having been inoculated with cowpox, would be immune to smallpox. 

There had been an earlier outbreak of smallpox in the Dorset village of Yetminster where, curiously, a cluster of Jenners (originally Ginners) was to be found.  This village was proficient in the leather and glove trade and Henry Jenner and his son Harry brought that skill with them when they emigrated to America in 1864.      

The first Jenner in America was probably Richard Jenner who was brought to New Jersey sometime in the 1640’s by Hannah, his widowed mother. 

“Richard Jenner, a gentleman of considerable property and an officer in the British army, who, dying in a foreign expedition, left a widow and three sons in London.” 

Another report has him dying during the passage to America. 

This family, traced in Carl Mitton’s 1990 booklet The Jenner Family, lived in Woodbury, Connecticut for a considerable period of time.  A Jenner Bible handed down marked succeeding generations.  One line led to Chautauqua county in western New York.  Another line led to Kentucky and Indiana and Bill Jenner, the Indiana Senator and anti-communist crusader of the 1950's.

The Jenners in America today number less than a thousand.  They may be either of English or German origin. Henry Jenner came from Sussex in the 1840's and settled in upstate New York.  Another Jenner family traces its roots back to Wuerttenberg in Germany.  Jenner here may have come from the South German Janner after Januarius (the first month of the year). 

AustraliaIsaac Jenner from Sussex settled in Brisbane, Queensland in the 1880's.   He was a landscape painter.  Although his contribution to art in Brisbane was considerable, his claim to be the founder of art in the colony was somewhat exaggerated.

Select Jenner Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Jenner Names

Edward Jenner was the celebrated English scientist credited in the early 19th century with devising a vaccine for smallpox.
Charles Jenner who had moved from the south to Edinburgh started a drapery store on Princes Street in the 1830's.  Now known as Jenners, it is probably the best known of Edinburgh's shops.
Sir William Jenner was the physician who discovered the difference between typhus and typhoid.  He was also Queen Victoria's doctor.

Henry Jenner
was a Celtic scholar who published the Cornish language handbook in 1904 which helped in its revival as a language.

Bruce Jenner
was the American track athlete who won the 1976 Olypmpic decathlon Gold Medal.  He has since made his name in American reality TV and become a woman known as Caitlyn Jenner.

Select Jenners Today
  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous in Kent)
  • 800 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia) 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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