CFHS code : BE129a
Parish : St Bene’t
Inscription : To the Dear Memory of MARIAN SYDNEY wife of FRANCIS JH JENKINSON Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge d Jan 5th 1888 in her thirtieth year
Monument : Headstone
Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey
Marian Sydney Jenkinson (1857 – 5 January 1888)
Marian was born in New South Wales. She was the daughter of Champion and Elizabeth Wetton, who were British. Her unusual middle name presumably comes from where the family were living at the time.
She grew up with eight siblings. Champion Wetton came from a wealthy family and was a bookseller and entrepreneur, with an estate at Holmbury St Mary. The family story goes that he made and lost three fortunes. He followed the gold rush in America and got into property. He lost everything in May 1851 when a huge fire engulfed San Francisco destroying three quarters of the buildings there.
His next venture was to set up a shipping line from England to Australia via Panama. The family story goes that he came home one day to his wife and said ‘my dear if you can get the boys into school and the girls ready in three weeks you can come with me to Australia’. The shipping venture was not a success and soon after Marian was born the family returned to England. They returned with a cow on board ship to provide milk for her. Going round the Cape they lost the poor cow overboard, but the baby survived.
Champion’s family appear to have moved in both musical and artistic circles and the whole village of Holmbury St Mary in Surrey became populated with creatives after Champion sold some land to the Pre Raphaelite painter Henry Tanworth Wells who built a house next door. In turn George Edmund Street [an architect under whom William Morris trained] visited Henry Wells and bought land building a house and church. Marian would have moved in artistic circles.
Marian’s eldest sister Jeannie married Sir Charles Villiers Stanford who was a composer and teacher of composition at the Royal College of Music. Marian married Charles’ best friend Francis John Henry Jenkinson on 6th July 1887 at St Johns Church, Croydon. Sir Charles Stanford played the bridal march for them at the service.
Francis Jenkinson was a librarian and antiquarian at Cambridge University. His thoughts on his bride survive in memoirs written by HF Stewart in 1926. In a letter to Mr Maden in 1888 he wrote ‘she had known very few men, but over girls and women she always had a wonderful ascendancy, which had done good to many. She had the rather rare combination of intense earnestness with a keen sense of humour, and a very refined taste with great simplicity of character’,
HF Stewart writes ‘the marriage was a radiantly happy one, but it had the seeds of tragedy. After a short visit to Northumberland, where he saw the Roman wall and began a friendship with Dr Thomas Hodgkin, he took his bride to the small house which was to be his home for nineteen years, but hers alas for but six months. The time was cloudless for them for they did not know what she was already hopelessly ill’
Marian died less than 6 months after their marriage aged 30.
Francis Jenkinson continued to live at their marital house at 10 Brookside and later at Southmead, Chaucer Road. He was Cambridge University Librarian for over thirty years and shaped the collection of the library. He was very interested in the acquisition of 15th Century books. He appears to have been much loved and admired by all who knew him ‘a character of extraordinary sweetness and charm, Jenkinson will be remembered for the help, often amounting to inspiration which he gave to other scholars during these generations’. The university commissioned a portrait by John Singer Sargent of Jenkinson which still hangs in the University Library. More can be read of his life here
Francis did marry again in 1902 to Margaret Clifford Stewart. He died in 1923 after a long University career.
by Claire Martinsen