Jenks, Sylvester (DNB00)


JENKS, SYLVESTER, D.D. (1656?–1714), catholic divine, born in Shropshire in or about 1656, was educated in the English College at Douay, where he took the mis sionary oath, in the assumed name of Medcalfe, 15 Aug. 1675. Most of the expense of his education was defrayed by his friend and patroness, Lady Yate of Harvington Hall, Worcestershire, widow of Sir John Yate of Buckland, Buckinghamshire. He was created D.D. in 1680, though he was not ordained priest till 23 Sept. 1684. After having been professor of philosophy in the college for six years he was sent on the mission 23 Sept. 1686, and was first stationed at Harvington Hall. James II subsequently summoned him to London, and appointed him one of his preachers in ordinary. After the revolution of 1688 he withdrew to Flanders, and on his return to England the chapter appointed him archdeacon of Surrey and Kent. He appears to have resided for some time at Albrighton, Shropshire.

In a particular congregation held 13 Aug. 1713, the congregation of propaganda unanimously elected him to be vicar-apostolic of the northern district of England, in succession to Bishop James Smith, and Pope Clement XI gave his consent on the 22nd of the same month. It was intended that he should take the title of Bishop of Callipolis in partibus infidelium. Considerable delay occurred in the delivery of the papal brief, and Jenks died before consecration. A ‘Mémoire’ on the state of the English mission, written in French by Jean François Strickland, D.D., of the Sorbonne, and endorsed 16 Dec. 1714, states that Jenks was lately dead, after some years of imbecility from paralysis.

Dodd says ‘he was a person of singular qualifications,’ and specially remarkable for his clearness of thought and style, and his agreeable conversation (Church History, iii. 487). His works are: 1. ‘Theses ex Theologia Universa, Præside Reverendo Domino Eduardo Paston, S.T.P. tueri conabitur in aula Collegii Anglorum Duaceni Silvester Jenksius, die iv Id. Jul. 1680,’ Douay, 1680, 4to. 2. ‘A Letter concerning the Council of Trent. By N. N.,’ 1686, 24mo, pp. 264. 3. Three sermons on the eucharist and transubstantiation, preached before the king, and printed separately in 1687–8. They are reprinted in ‘A Select Collection of Catholick Sermons,’ 2 vols., London, 1741, and again in 1772. 4. ‘A Contrite and Humble Heart: with Motives and Considerations to prepare it,’ Paris, 1692, 12mo; [London], 1698, 12mo. 5. ‘Practical Discourses upon the Morality of the Gospel,’ sine loco 1699, 24mo; London, 1817, 8vo. 6. ‘The Blind Obedience of a Humble Penitent the best Cure for Scruples,’ 1699, 12mo; republished under the title of ‘God's Safe Way of Obedience … revised and edited by a Priest’ [Charles J. Bowen], London, 1872, 12mo. 7. ‘The Security of an Humble Penitent, in a Letter to H. S.,’ 1700, 12mo. 8. ‘The Whole Duty of a Christian … being a faithful Abstract of the Trent Catechism,’ 1707, 12mo. 9. ‘An Essay upon the Art of Love.’ 10. ‘A Discourse on Submission to the Powers in being,’ manuscript. 11. ‘A short Review of the Book of Jansenius,’ 1710, 12mo. 12. ‘Letters concerning Jansenism,’ manuscript at Ushaw College, I. f. 353. 13. An interesting collection of letters dated 1703–7, many concerning a disputed will regarding estates and manorial rights of Albrighton Hall, Pulley, Monksmore, Lythwood, &c., belonging to the Ireland family; also notes as to the proceedings of the English catholic chapter (Addit. MS. 29612, p. 380).

His portrait, engraved by J. le Pouter, is prefixed to the Paris edition of his ‘Contrite and Humble Heart.’

[Memoir by Bowen, prefixed to God's Safe Way; Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 248, 249; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Illustrated Catholic Magazine, 1872, iii. 30, 36, 59; Jones's Popery Tracts, p. 455; Noble's Cont. of Granger, ii. 168.]

T. C.