William Jennison was born 1608 in England to Robert Jennison (1583-1652) and Ann Bonner (1585-1624) and died 1657 England of unspecified causes.


William Jennison migrated from England to Massachusetts Bay Colony in about 1630. Listed in the inhabitants of Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1633 and appointed to represent that city at court. But by 1634 he had removed to Watertown, Massachusetts where he is granted a homelot and found in various records there. Eventually in 1657 he returned to England.

Watertown Founders Monument

Watertown Founders Monument

He is listed on Watertown Founders Monument, commemorating the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The town was first known as Saltonstall Plantation, one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in early 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and George Phillips, it was officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.

Marriage and Family

No known marriage or children.


Offspring of Robert Jennison (1583-1652) and Ann Bonner (1585-1624)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Robert Jennison (1607-1690) 1607 Colchester, Essex, England 4 July 1690 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Elizabeth Unknown1 (-1638)
Grace Unknown1 (1608-1686)
William Jennison (c1608-1657) 1608 England 1657 England

Offspring of Robert Jennison (1583-1652) and Elizabeth Favour (1596-1634)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Jennison (1625-1655)
Elizabeth Jennison (1629-)
Thomas Jennison (1632-1676)
Isabel Jennison (1633-)

Research Notes

Mr. Wm. Jennings" appears in a list of inhabitants of Charlestown on 9 January 1633[/4] [ChTR 10], and on 13 June 1634 he was appointed (along with Thomas Beecher and Ralph Sprague) to "be at town meetings to assist in ordering their affairs & that they present [i.e., represent] this town at the General Court held at Newtowne in 7ber next in the quality of Deputies" [ChTR 11]. The record of the General Court for 3 September 1634 does not include a list of deputies, but by 4 March 1634/5 Jennison is found representing Watertown, and so his move must have taken place in late 1634 or early 1635. Since he was granted a houselot at the time when others were in 1634, we assume here that he moved in the latter half of 1634.

1634 Bermuda Trip

On 1 June 1634 Winthrop reported the return of the Thunder, which had left for Bermuda the preceding fall. "Ensign Jenyson went in her for pilot, and related, at his return, that there was a very great change in Bermuda since he dwelt there, diverse lewd persons being become good Christians" [WJ 1:159]. On 6 October 1634 "Ensigne Jennison" was fined the considerable sum of ?20 "for upbraiding the Court with injustice, uttering these words, I pray God deliver me from this Court' professing he had waited from Court to Court & could not have justice done him, &c." [MBCR 1:132]. On 7 April 1635 the fine was remitted "upon his submission & acknowledgement of his offense" [MBCR 1:143].

1639 Greys Inn

In July 1639 "Captaine William Jennison of Watertowne" had financial dealings with Richard Spitty of Greys Inn, Middlesex, gentleman, and Robert Scott of Boston, haberdasher [Lechford 107-9].

In July 1644 William Jennison was examined by the deputies and the magistrates for his opinions with regard to King and Parliament. He attempted to steer a middle course, saying that the position of Parliament was correct, but that if he were in England he did not feel that he could act against the King. The court accepted this grudgingly, not wanting to lose the services of such a "useful man" [WJ 2:215-16]. On 2 October 1645 the General Court accepted Capt. William Jennison's request to be dismissed from the service of the Court, he "being to go for Virginia" [MBCR 3:44].

On 27 June 1646 the Earl of Warwick authorized "Captain William Jennison" to examine the vessel the Warwick left in Boston harbor for several years by Capt. Chaddocke. If Jennison found it to be repairable, he was to fit it for the sea and repay himself out of the profits of the first voyage or voyages she made; if not repairable, he was to sell it for the best price he could get [SLR 1:77]. Perhaps Jennison received this authorization in person, for he was clearly away 30 April 1646 when Robert Jennison of Watertown put his own house and lands in Watertown up as surety for William's debt of ?14 13s. to Robert Keayne of Boston "and further the said Robert Jennison doth promise if his brother Captain Jennison do send over any goods from England or elsewhere before this debt be paid then to pay off the best of those goods so much as shall then be unpaid." This mortgage was discharged 20 May 1653 [SLR 1:75]. In June 1648 with other leading men of Watertown and Essex County, William Jennison helped sort out the lands tendered to pay the debt of Thomas Dexter of Lynn to Alderman Hooke of Bristol, England, merchant [Aspinwall 135-36].


Footnotes (including sources)