This surname JANNINGS was a baptismal name 'the son of John' an old and popular font name. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Early records of the name mention Janyn le Breton of the County of Lancashire in 1332.
Jenyn de Fraune of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Jenyn de Fraunce, ibid. John Jenens, citizen of Oxford, was registered at Oxford University in 1573. Ralph Jenyngs of Chester, was documented in the Wills at Chester in 1610.
A notable member of the name was Sarah Jennings, an attendant and a close friend of Queen Anne who had a clandestine marriage in 1677 to John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough. This enhanced his prospects in promotion and prestige with the royal family. In 1702 Anne was made Groom of the Stole, Mistress of the Robes and Keeper of the Privy Purse. After the Dukes death Sarah spent the rest of her life renovating and restoring the palace at Blenheim and editing her own, and her husbands, papers for publication.
In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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