JOHN JENKINS (1592 - 1678)
A little verse on Jenkins’ grave in Kimberley church, Norfolk, ends:
Ag’d eighty-six: October twenty sev’n
In Anno sev’nty eight he went to Heav’n
from which we deduce that he was born in 1592. He was almost certainly the son of Henry Jenkins, a Maidstone carpenter who perhaps made instruments, for the inventory taken after Henry’s death in 1617 records ‘Seven Vialls and Violyns, one Bandora and a Cylherne’. But of Jenkins’ early life and career nothing is known for certain. He may have been the ‘Jack Jenkins’ in the household of Anne, Countess of Warwick, in 1603; the first positive sighting of him is among the musicians performing in the extravagant masque The Triumph of Peace in 1634. The advent of civil strife forced him, like others of his kind, into the country. In the 1640s he was particularly associated with two Royalist Norfolk families: the Derhams at West Derham and the L’Estranges at Hunstanton. During the 1650s, Jenkins visited Lord Dudley North’s home at Kirtling, Cambridgeshire, becoming resident there during the 1660s. With the restoration of Charles II he was given a place as a theorbo-player at Court, but he was too old to give more than token service. However, Roger North records that
tho’ he for many years was uncapable to attend, the court musicians had so much value for him, that advantage was not taken, but he received his salary as
they were pay’d.
His last years were spent in honourable semi-retirement at the home of Sir Philip Wodehouse at Kimberley, Norfolk, where he died on 27 October 1678.
Jenkins’ life was a long one, witnessing many musical changes from the era of Byrd to that of Purcell. This recording reflects something of the diversity of the composer’s output within his preferred medium of consort music. He came to maturity as a composer in the 1620s, following in the footsteps of the generation who had developed the consort fantasia for viols, in particular Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, Thomas Lupo, John Coprario and Orlando Gibbons. Exceptional lyrical gifts allied to a capacity for large-scale planning, and a special and remarkably mature handling of key and key-relationships, place Jenkins’ fantasias and pavans for viols among the very best of their kind.