Jenkins Surname Genealogy

surname Jenkins comes from the personal name Jenkin, which contains the
elements Jen, a pet name for
John, and -kin, a dimunutive
Thus Jenkin might describe the younger John, the son of John, or little
John. John, meaning “God has granted me with a son,” was
introduced by returning Crusaders from the Holy Land in the 12th

Resources on

Jenkins Ancestry

Wales. Jenkins in one of those “-kins”
like Hopkins and Watkins, that
established itself in Wales. According to H. Harrison’s Surnames of the
United Kingdom
, the Jenkins name might have been
brought to Wales by Flemish immigrants who were settled in
Pembrokeshire in the
12th century.

There were increasing references to Jenkin as a personal name from the
13th century, mainly in south Wales. It was pronounced and
sometimes spelt as
“Siencyn.” The old Welsh patronymical style was still in place in
the 16th century
(thus Richard Roberts of that time was the son of Robert Jenkin).
But it was beginning to
be displaced by English-style surnames. In this process, Jenkin
became Jenkins with the suffix adoption of “s” as “son of.”

Judge David Jenkins
, the son of
Jenkin Richard, was born in
House in the vale of Glamorgan in 1582 (the house was said to have been
built by the judge’s great grandfather). He himself was a fervent
Royalist who narrowly survived the Civil War. Another
Royalist, born nearby, was Sir Leoline Jenkins. He made his mark
as the Principal for Jesus College in Oxford.

A Jenkins who also went to Jesus College was the cleric and antiquary
John Jenkins – from the Jenkins family of Llangoedmor in
Cardiganshire. In 1807 he was appointed the vicar of Kerry in
Montgomeryshire. There he adopted the name Ifor Ceri and began
to promote Welsh singing and bardic skills through local eisteddfods.

By the late 19th century, the Jenkins population in Wales
had become
fairly heavily concentrated in Glamorgan, in particular in the
industrial belt of west Glamorgan around Port Talbot and Neath.
From this working class area came the coal miner’s son Richard Jenkins
who became the
actor Richard Burton
and the trade union
leader Clive Jenkins:

“His family had a small terraced house
with an outside toilet and ‘no carpet, just coconut matting.’
They bathed once a week in front of the fire in an old zinc tub,
sharing the same water.”

The mezzo-soprano opera singer Katherine Jenkins grew up in a council
house in Neath.

England. The Jenkin name
began in England in its southwest
corner, in Cornwall. There were some early suggestions that the
Cornish were of short stature, hence the “little Johns.” Jenkin
has persisted in Cornwall without the “s” suffix.

Cornwall One
Jenkin family has been traced to St. Stephen in Brannel in the
1600’s. They moved to St. Austell in the early 1800’s to work in
the tin mines but then emigrated when the work there stopped.

“James Jenkin went to Australia to meet
his brother Edward; but by the time he had arrived Edward had already
left for the US. So the two never met. James was killed in
a mine accident in Australia, leaving a wife and nine children.”

Jenkins were also to be found in Magdon north of Penzance from the
1650’s. They were for many generations village blacksmiths.
The family emigrated to South Africa in 1911. Other Jenkins
in Cornwall stayed, notably the historian Kenneth Hamilton and the
Richard, both very much committed to the Cornish cause.

Devon There were
Jenkins in the neighboring county of Devon. The Jenkins of
Hartland near Bideford in
Devon in fact date back to the 1550’s.

Scilly Isles The
first Jenkins
came to the Scilly Isles in the 1730’s. John Jenkins, born in
1723, was one of the early arrivals. His grand-daughter was named
Elizabeth and there is a photograph of her that still remains, taken in
her old age sometime in the 1860’s. Over the years the Jenkins
numbers grew and the Jenkins today in the Scillies
represent a significant proportion of the population of the Tresco and
Bryher islands.

Kent Kent has
been a Jenkins outpost. The Jenkins of Kent date from
the time that William Jenkin was mayor of Folkestone in the
1550’s. Their most illustrious family member was probably the
Victorian inventor Fleeming Jenkin who came up with the idea of the
aerial tramway. Descendants have been the politicians Patrick and
Bernard Jenkin.

John Jenkins, who arrived from England in the
1660’s, was one of the earliest settlers in North Carolina. He
served as governor of the colony at various times during the
1670’s. William Jenkins, born in Virginia in 1675, was the
forebear of the
plantation-owning Jenkins family
of Cabell county in what is
now West Virginia. Another Jenkins Virginia family settled
in Gaston county, North Carolina.

Three well-documented Jenkins families began with immigrants from Wales
the late 1600’s and early 1700’s:

  • William Jenkins came to Maryland and his descendants were to be
    found in Baltimore county for many generations. They later moved
    to South Carolina and then onto Georgia and Texas.
  • David Jenkins settled in Chester county, Pennsylvania. The
    old Jenkins homestead at Churchtown there remained with the family in
    succeeding generations. The family history has been traced in
    Robert Jenkins’ 1904 book The
    Jenkins Family Book
  • the Quaker John Jenkins came around 1730 and settled in
    the Welsh community of Gwynedd, Pennsylvania. A
    19th century descendant Howard Jenkins was a local
    newspaper publisher.

Another Jenkins family from Maryland
included a Captain Thomas Jenkins who owned a number of sea-going
vessels. He transported arms, at considerable peril to himself,
to the patriots during the Revolutionary War. His
was traced in Edward F. Jenkins’ 1985 book Thomas
Jenkins of Maryland

Lewis Jenkins fought in the War and received bounty land in North
Carolina. In the 1820’s he moved his family to Georgia.
Charles J. Jenkins left South Carolina for Georgia a little
later. He served as Governor of the state during
Reconstruction. Jenkins county in Georgia is named in his

and other Jenkins appear in the
Jenkins’ version of
Hymn of the

Canada. Nicholas
Henckel from Hesse in Germany took the name of Jenkins from his English
wife. He and his family arrived in the
maritime province of Prince Edward Island in 1783, describing the place
then as
“a wilderness.” He has had a large number
descendants, many apparently in the Little Pond area.
Doug MacDonald’s 2009 book A Genealogy of the
Jenkins Families of
Prince Edward Island
has traced this genealogy.

In 1820 the Rev. Louis Jenkins, bound for Quebec, was driven by
contrary winds to Charlottetown in PEI where he assumed the rectorship
of St. Paul’s. His descendants ran the Upton farm near
Charlottetown. Dr. Jack Jenkins was a cattle breeder and farmer
in the 1920’s and his wife Louise one of the first female pilots in

South America.
There are
Jenkins in Argentina. Aaron Jenkins and his family
were part of a
group of Welsh colonists who came to Patagonia in 1865 to settle and
farm. Sadly he was murdered in 1879. Alfred Jenkins was an
orphan from Bristol who arrived in Argentina in 1907 as a Christian
missionary. He married there but died young in his forties.

Australia and New Zealand.
Jenkins have come from Wales, Cornwall, England and even from Ireland
and America.
John Jenkins from Kent had arrived in NSW as a convict in
1821. His initial years were harsh. But his wife and children joined him in 1827
and he received his Ticket of Leave two years later.
They later settled in Berrima, NSW where John
died in 1886 at the ripe old age of 97.

Among later Jenkins
arrivals were:

  • Robert Jenkins, who arrived in Tasmania from Worcestershire in
    1835. One of his sons PW Jenkins was a pioneer grazier at
    Nimmitabel in the Monaro region of NSW. He lived until 1954 on his Clifton farm
  • William Jenkins known as “Bill the Steward,” who came to Kapiti
    island in New Zealand from Kent in 1836. He was a whaler but
    later settled down to farm and run an accommodation house at Te Uruhi.
  • John Jenkins, who came to Victoria from Cornwall during the gold
    rush times of the 1850’s
  • and Joseph Jenkins, a tenant farmer from mid-Wales who in 1868
    suddenly abandoned his home and family to seek his fortune in
    Australia. He didn’t find this fortune. But he left behind
    a series of diaries which, after his death, have been published and

Kay Jenkins’ 2002 book From the
Mountains of Wales: Jenkins Family History
traced a Jenkins
family from Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire to Australia.

Jenkins Miscellany

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

Select Jenkins Names

was a Royalist judge in Glamorgan who survived the
upheavals of the Civil War.
was the Victorian inventor who came up with the idea of
the aerial tramway.
was the given name of the actor Richard Burton.
was the Labor
politician from Monmouthshire who served as British Home Secretary and
Chancellor of the Exchequer
in the 1960’s and 1970’s and later defected to start the Social
Democrat party.
Katherine Jenkins is a Welsh
mezzo-soprano singer, popular for her crossover music.

Select Jenkins

  • 58,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Merthyr Tydfil)
  • 74,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).




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