Cardigan People 40: Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins (1857–1928)

Sir Laurence Hugh Jenkins (22 Dec 1857–1 Oct 1928),
son of R. D Jenkins, The Priory and also Cilbronnau, Llangoedmor

As far as I can see there is no mention of him in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography. But according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was born on 22 Dec 1857 at The Priory, Cardigan. He was the younger son of Richard David Jenkins and the only child of R D Jenkins’s second marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Lewis, Machynlleth, a surgeon in the Royal Navy. His birthplace is confirmed in the 1861 census return which states that he was born in Cardigan (and not Llangoedmor!).

Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was educated at Cheltenham College (1869–77);  Oxford and called to the Bar Lincoln’s Inn in 1883. The Admission Register of Lincoln’s Inn for 11/11/1879 reads: “Laurence Hugh Jenkins of Univ Coll., Oxford (21), the youngest son of Richard David J., of Cilbroan, co. Cardigan, sol. JP.” He was called to the Bar: 17/11/1883.

In 1892 Lawrence H. Jenkins married Catherine Minna Brown, daughter of sugar plantation owners, of Natal.

He then became Chief Justice of Bombay High Court for ten years (1898-1908). Jenkins was also selected as Member of the Council of India.

John Morley (Liberal secretary of state for India) described Laurence as:

one of the two or three most valuable men of my Council. He is a remarkably clear-headed man, with a copious supply of knowledge in law, as well as of political imagination … a fine fellow … of immense value to me about Reforms.

He was knighted on 17 August 1899. From 1909 to 1915 he was the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. He also served as District Grand Master of Freemasons for Bombay and Bengal.

In his judgeship Jenkins delivered several verdicts in high profile conspiracy and bombing case including Alipore Bomb conspiracy case

Jenkins retired in 1915 and in 1921 the Right Honourable Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins of Cilbronnau was President of Cardigan Agricultural Show. It was held at Stepside – a successful show with over 400 entries.

In 1923 Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins, Lady Jenkins and Clodrydd Jenkins lived at Cilbronnau mansion. In January 1924 he was appointed Chairman of the Cardiganshire Sessions.

S. V. FitzGerald, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, sums up  his character and contribution:

Jenkins’s legal equipment when he first went to India was a keen dialectical mind, a thorough grasp of English equity principles, and a power of expressing himself in clear and forcible English. He soon added a mastery of Indian law and custom astonishing in one who did not visit India until his thirty-ninth year and then served only in Presidency towns; many of his finest judgments enlightened dark questions of Hindu law. He was business-like in administration, and men he chose for high responsibility justified his choice.

A sociable man, Jenkins successfully devoted himself to breaking down the barriers then separating British and Indians, especially in the Presidency towns. He came to know the leading Indian moderate politicians, and sympathized with their aims.

He died at his home in London on 1 October 1928. A Memorial window to Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins was unveiled at Llangoedmor Church on 7th December 1930. 

(Can anyone contribute a photograph, please?)

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