Friday, 14 October 2011

Coleman Anecdote 16 William Jenkyn

The next case we present is one, amongst many others, of imprisonment and death - painful confinement issuing in death. Mr William Jenkyn [1613-1685] was maternal grandson to John Rogers, the proto-martyr in the Marian persecution. In the great storm that prevailed against the Nonconformists in James II's reign, on September 2, 1684, when he, with Mr [Edward] Reynolds [1599-1676], Mr J[ohn] Flavel [1627-1691] and Mr [Thomas] Keeling, was spending a day in prayer, with many of his friends, in a place where they thought themselves out of danger, the soldiers broke in upon them in the midst of the exercise. All the ministers made their escape except Mr Jenkyn. Mr Flavel was so near that he heard the insolence of the officers and soldiers to Mr Jenkyn when they had taken him, and observes in his diary that Mr Jenkyn might have escaped as well as himself, had it not been for a piece of vanity in a lady, whose long train hindered his going down the stairs, Mr Jenkyn, out of his too great civility, having let her pass before him.
Being taken before two aldermen, Sir James Edwards and Sir James Smith, they treated him very roughly, well knowing that it would be acceptable in the highest places in the land. Upon his refusing the Oxford oath, they committed him to Newgate, rejecting his offer of £40 fine which the law empowered them to take, though it was urged that the air of Newgate would infallibly suffocate him. He petitioned the King for a release, which was backed by an assurance from his physician that his life was in danger from his close confinement; but no other answer could be obtained but this, "Jenkyn shall be a prisoner as long as he lives." This was most rigorously adhered to. He was not suffered to go to baptize his daughter's child, though a considerable sum was offered for his liberty to do it, with security for his return. The keepers were ordered not to let him pray with any visitants; even when his daughter came to ask his blessing, he was not allowed to pray with her. He soon began, through this confinement, to decline in health, but continued all along in the utmost joy and comfort of soul. He said to one of his friends, "What a vast difference there is between this and my first imprisonment (alluding to his having formerly been sent to the Tower for being concerned in [Christopher] Love's plot); then I was full of doubts and fears, of grief and anguish, and well I might, for going out of God's way and my calling to meddle with things that did not belong to me. But now, when I was found in the way of my duty in my Master's business, though I suffer even unto bonds, yet I am comforted beyond measure. The Lord sheds abroad his love sensibly in my heart: I feel it, I have assurance of it." Turning to some who were weeping by him, he said, "Why weep ye for me? Christ lives; He is my Friend, a Friend born for adversity; a Friend that never dies. "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children." He died in Newgate, January 19th, 1685, aged 72, having been a prisoner there four months, where, as he said a little before he died, "a man might be as effectually murdered as at Tyburn."
A nobleman, having heard of his happy release, said to the King, "May it please your Majesty, Jenkyn has got his liberty." Upon which he asked with eagerness, "Ay, who gave it him?" The nobleman replied, "A greater than your Majesty, the King of kings." With which the King appeared greatly struck, and remained silent.

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