Henry Jenner

Henry Jenner
Henry Jenner

Henry Jenner FSA (1848 – 1934) was a British scholar of the Celtic languages, a Cornish cultural activist, and the chief originator of the Cornish language revival.

Jenner was born at St Columb Major on 8 August 1848. He was the son of Henry Lascelles Jenner, who was one of two curates to the Rector of St. Columb Major, and later consecrated though not enthroned as the first Bishop of Dunedin and the grandson of Herbert Jenner-Fust.[1] In 1869 Jenner became a clerk in the Probate Division of the High Court and two years later was nominated by the Primate at Canterbury for a post in the Department of Ancient Manuscripts in the British Museum, his father then being the Rector of Wingham, a small village near Canterbury.


Interest in the Cornish language

His earliest interest in the Cornish language is mentioned in an article by Robert Morton Nance entitled "Cornish Beginnings",[2]

When Jenner was a small boy at St. Columb, his birthplace, he heard at the table some talk between his father and a guest that made him prick up his ears, and no doubt brought sparkles to his eyes which anyone who told him something will remember. They were speaking of a Cornish language. At the first pause in their talk he put his query... 'But is there really a Cornish Language?' and on being assured that at least there had been one, he said 'Then I'm Cornish--that's mine!'
Plaque at St Columb Major, on the site of the old vestry where his father worked (now called Bond House, in Market Square)

In 1874 Henry Jenner continued his interest in Celtic languages, and in 1875 he read a paper to the Philological Society in London, his subject being the Manx language. The following year he read another paper on the subject of the Cornish language at Mount's Bay. In 1877 he discovered, whilst working in the British Museum, forty two lines of a medieval play written in Cornish around the year 1450.

In 1903 he was made Bard of the Breton Gorsedd, and along with L.C.R. Duncombe-Jewell he jointly founded the first Cornish language society, "Cowethas Kelto-Kernuak". The following year Jenner and Duncombe-Jewell took Cornwall's application for membership of the Celtic Congress, then meeting in Caernarfon. His Bardic name was Gwas Myghal ('Servant of Michael').

Shortly afterwards he published his Handbook of the Cornish language and the Cornish Revival was born. His version of Cornish was based upon the form of the language used in West Cornwall in the 18th century, although his pupil Robert Morton Nance would later steer the language revival towards mediaeval Cornish.

At a time when many people thought the Cornish language had died Jenner observed[3]

There has never been a time when there has been no person in Cornwall without a knowledge of the Cornish language … The reason why a Cornishman should learn Cornish, the outward and audible sign of his separate nationality, is sentimental, and not in the least practical, and if everything sentimental were banished from it, the world would not be as pleasant a place as it is.

In 2010, Michael Everson published a new edition entitled Henry Jenner's Handbook of the Cornish Language, which contains modern IPA phonetic transcriptions in order to make clear to modern readers what phonology Jenner was recommending. The book also contains three essays written by Jenner thirty years prior to the 1904 publication, as well as some examples of a number of Christmas and New Years cards sent out by Jenner containing original verse by him in Cornish and English.[4]


Jenner married Kitty Lee Rawlings in 1877 (she was a novelist and author of non-fiction under the name Kitty Lee).[5] A biography of Henry and Katherine, including much information about the context in which their work appeared, was published in 2004 by Derek R. Williams.[6]

Political leanings

Jenner was a Tory and Jacobite. He and his wife supported the Order of the White Rose (OWR), a society of Stuart sympathizers of which he was chancellor. He also actively supported The Royalist, a journal which ran from 1890 to 1905.[7]

Later years

Former home of Henry Jenner in Hayle
Commemorative Plaque on the home of the Jenners in Hayle

After working at the British Museum for more than forty years,[1] in 1909 Jenner and his wife Kitty[8] retired to Hayle, his wife's home town, and in January 1912 he was elected as the Librarian of the Morrab Library, a post he held until 1927. He also served as President of both the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society and of the Royal Institution of Cornwall.[9] Jenner had married Kitty Lee Rawlings, herself a novelist and writer on art,[1] in 1877.[10] He died on 8 May 1934 and is buried in St. Uny's Church, Lelant.

Before he died, he said: "The whole object of my life has been to inculcate into Cornish people a sense of their Cornishness."

He contributed to the Catholic Encyclopedia with articles on Catholic Liturgical Rites.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: Mr. Henry Jenner (transcription)". London: The Times. Thursday, May 10, 1934; Issue 46750. p. 19; col A. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Times/1934/Obituary/Henry_Jenner. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  2. ^ page 368, Old Cornwall, Volume V, Number 9 published in 1958.
  3. ^ Rebuilding the Celtic languages By Diarmuid O'Néill (Page 222)
  4. ^ Jenner, Henry. 2010. Henry Jenner's Handbook of the Cornish Language. Revised by Michael Everson. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-37-4
  5. ^ Ellis, P. B. (1974) The Cornish Language. London: Routledge; pp. 144, 223
  6. ^ Williams, Derek R., editor. Henry and Katharine Jenner, A Celebration of Cornwall’s Culture, Language and Identity. London: Francis Boutle. ISBN 978-1-903427-19-4
  7. ^ P. W. Thomas (May 2005). "Henry Jenner". Henry Jenner. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/75066. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  8. ^ see Peter W. Thomas, "Jenner, Henry (1848–1934)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn,[1], (accessed 19 Aug 2007), for more information on both Henry and Kitty Jenner.
  9. ^ Peter W. Thomas, ‘Jenner, Henry (1848–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, May 2005 accessed 15 Nov 2007
  10. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=oQLMSCLDlc9km9UmmpFj8g&scan=1. Retrieved December 20, 2008. 
  11. ^ Articles on the Liturgical use of Creeds, the Celtic Rite [2], Mozarabic Rite [3], East Syrian Rite [4], Ambrosian Liturgy and Rite [5], the Gallican Rite [6] at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Further reading

  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Henry and Katharine Jenner: A Celebration of Cornwall's Culture, Language and Identity. Francis Boutle Publishers. ISBN 978-1903427194.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jenner — is a surname, and may refer to:* Barry Jenner, American actor * Brody Jenner, son of Bruce * Bruce Jenner (born 1949), American athlete * Edward Jenner (1749 1823), developed the smallpox vaccine * Gustav Jenner, German composer * Henry Jenner,… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Schricker — Henry Frederick Schricker (* 20. August 1883 in North Judson, Starke County, Indiana; † 28. Dezember 1966 in Knox, Indiana) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker und zwischen 1941 und 1945 der 36. sowie zwischen 1949 und 1953 der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Henry Jones Shrapnell — (1792 1834) was an English anatomist. For a period of time during his career he was a colleague to Edward Jenner (1749 1823), creator of the vaccine for smallpox.Shrapnell is remembered for his pioneer work in otology. He was the first to… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Drysdale Dakin — Henry Drysdale Dakin, né à Londres le 12 mars 1880, mort en 1952, était un chimiste britannique. Fils d un marchand de métaux, il fait ses études à l université de Leeds (alors Victoria University), puis se perfectionne à Londres à l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jenner & Block — Infobox Law Firm firm name = Jenner Block LLP firm headquarters = Chicago, Illinois num offices = 3 num attorneys = approximately 500 num employees = practice areas = General practice key people = Anton Valukas, Chairman [… …   Wikipedia

  • Jenner, Edward — born May 17, 1749, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, Eng. died Jan. 26, 1823, Berkeley English surgeon, discoverer of the smallpox vaccine. He was apprenticed to a surgeon at 13, and at 21 he became the house pupil of John Hunter, who gave him further… …   Universalium

  • Henry F. Schricker — Infobox Governor name= Henry F. Schricker caption= order=36th Governor of Indiana term start=January 13, 1941 term end=January 8, 1945 lieutenant=Charles M. Dawson predecessor=M. Clifford Townsend successor=Ralph F. Gates order2=38th Governor of… …   Wikipedia

  • Edward Jenner — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Jenner. Edward Jenner Edward au début de ses études …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Edward Jenner — Infobox Scientist name = Edward Jenner box width = 250px image width = 200px caption = Edward in the prime of his studies birth date = May 17, 1749 birth place = Berkeley, Gloucestershire death date = death date and age|1823|1|26|1749|5|17|df=y… …   Wikipedia

  • 2004 Jenner, California double-murder — The Jenner, California double murder of 2004 came to the public s attention on August 18, 2004, when the bodies of Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and her fiance Jason S. Allen, 26, were found on Fish Head Beach in the small coastal hamlet of Jenner,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.