Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jenner, Charles

1399494Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29 — Jenner, Charles1892Henry Jenner

JENNER, CHARLES (1736–1774), novelist and poet, born in 1736, was the eldest son of Charles Jenner, D.D. (1707–1770), and Mary his wife, daughter of John Sawyer of Heywood, Berkshire. His father, a grandson of Sir Thomas Jenner [q. v.], baron of the exchequer, was a graduate of Brasenose College, Oxford (B.A. 1727, M.A. 1730, and B.D. and D.D. 1743), and became rector of Buckworth, Huntingdonshire, in 1740; chaplain to George II in 1746; prebendary of Lincoln in 1753; and archdeacon of Bedford in 1756, and of Huntingdon in 1757. Pecuniary embarrassments ultimately forced him to leave the country, and he died at St. Omer on 2 Feb. 1770. He published a single sermon in 1753. A portrait is in the possession of his great-grandson, Herbert Jenner-Fust, esq., LL.D., of Hill Court, Gloucestershire.

The son was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1757 and M.A. in 1760, but afterwards migrated to Sidney Sussex College. In 1769 he was instituted to the living of Claybrook in Leicestershire, which he held with that of Craneford St. John in Northamptonshire. He suffered much through his father's imprudence in money matters, but, according to Nichols, he himself was ‘of an opposite turn.’ He died of a cold caught at Vauxhall on 11 May 1774, aged 38. A monument was erected to his memory in Claybrook Church by Lady Craven, with commemorative verses of her own. According to the historian of his parish, his character, manners, and talents were of a high order. In 1764 he married Rebecca, daughter of William Thomson, but left no issue.

His literary work possesses little originality. His first volume of poems was published in 1766, and in 1767 and 1768 he gained the Seatonian prize at Cambridge for poems on sacred subjects, the first being on ‘The Gift of Tongues,’ the second on ‘The Destruction of Nineveh.’ Another volume of poems, entitled ‘Town Eclogues,’ was published in 1772; 2nd edit. 1773. He also published separately ‘Louisa, a Tale, to which is added an Elegy to the Memory of Lord Lyttelton,’ the original manuscript of which is now in the possession of his great-nephew, the Right Rev. H. L. Jenner, formerly bishop of Dunedin. In 1770 he published anonymously his only novel, ‘The Placid Man, or Memoirs of Sir Charles Beville.’ This attained considerable success, and was republished with his name in 1773. Besides these he published in 1767 a volume of sketches and essays entitled ‘Letters from Altamont to his Friend in the Country,’ and two volumes of miscellaneous papers, entitled ‘Letters from Lothario to Penelope,’ in 1771. This last includes two dramas, ‘Lucinda,’ a dramatic entertainment, and ‘The Man of Family,’ a sentimental comedy; both also published separately in 1770 and 1771 respectively. Angus Macaulay in his ‘History of Claybrook,’ 1791, says that Jenner ‘had a fine taste for music, and his society was much courted by amateurs of that art,’ and according to Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes’ he was ‘a good singer of catches and performer at concerts.’ He composed and published a song entitled ‘The Syren,’ and in his novel ‘The Placid Man,’ and other of his writings, showed much knowledge of music and musical literature.

[Angus Macaulay's History of Claybrook; Nichols's Lit. Anecd.; Burke's Landed Gentry; family papers and traditions.]

H. J.