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Thursday, 8 February 2018

52 Ancestors - Wk.6: Jennet - My Favourite Name

Week 6 in Amy Johnson Crow’s prompt “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” asks us for our Favourite Name.

I will admit to a touch of genea-envy for people whose ancestors have colourful,   distinctive Christian names.  In my family, names down the generations  are very  ordinary,  everyday English names  such as Anne, Jane, Margaret, Martha,  Ellen,  Mary, Barbara, and Sarah.

Standing out as a bit different is Maria - the name of my great grandmother who I profiled in Week 3. As a child, I thought it rather an exotic name with Spanish overtones. But then I read that in the 1850’s it was no. 15 on a list of popular Christian names - so, not unusual at all.

So my choice for this prompt is the name of JENNET. 

You never hear of it these days, but I think it is charming.  Google gives a range of origins for the name - Old English, Scottish, French and Hebrew, with  the meaning "God is Gracious". Lots of variations  are more familiar to us  - Janet, Jenny/Jennie, Jean/Jeannie, Jeanette, and Jane/Janie.


Jennet  features a number of times in my family history.

I first came across the Christian name  in the will of my g.g.g.g. grandfather John Danson (1736-1821),  which I obtained from Lancashire Record Office.

 "I also give and bequeath to my daughter Jennet, wife of John Bryning, my Corner Cupboard now standing in the parlour in my house and the Meal Chest in the room over the same".
I love the little detail in this statement, as it creates  such a picture of what was important in  John's household.

The will goes on to state:
"I also bequeath the sum of Eight Hundred Pounts equally and amongst all and every my Grandchildren, Richard, Thomas, Jennet, Margaret, Betty and John, sons and daughters of my daughter Jennet."
Jennet Danson's  baptism was traced to 28th January 1765 at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lanacashire -  listed on www.lan-opc.org.uk.   

In 1786, aged 21,  Jennet married John Bryning, son of a  family prominent in the local community.  John's parents were  another John Bryning and another Jennet - Jennet Dewhurst.  

The interior of St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde,  with the Bryning family pew at the front of the gallery on the left - the Danson family down the generations were baptised, married and buried here.   It was the scene of  my parent's marriage and my own christening.   Both Danson and Bryning men served as church wardens.

The Bryning family boxed pew,   dated 1778, with the name John Bryning - Jennet Danson's father in law. can still be seen in the gallery/

Jennet Bryning, nee Danson was buried at St. Chad's 11th August 1847 at the age of 81.  

Her Christian name lived on in her daughter Jennet and her granddaughter Jennet Chadwick; also in the daughter of her son Richard.  In some census returns, though  their Christian name is listed as "Jenny". 


Jennet Rawcliffe  was one  of five surviving  daughters of Robert Rawcliffe and Jane Carr of Hambleton, near Fleetwood, Lancashire  with my great grandmother Maria the youngest.   Jennet is also the one I know least about.  In 1871,  she was a witness at her sister Jane's wedding to Thomas Riley, and two years later married Thomas's brother Richard. 

A daughter Jane and son Thomas were born, but the marriage was short lived.  By the time of the 1891 census, Jennet was a  widow,  with Richard having died  at the young age of 33. Jennet married again in 1896 a seaman Edward Alexander Braham. 


The name Jennet does not reappear again in the  family  of the Rawcliffe sisters.  Both  Anne and Jennet  had a daughter Jane;  Alice's daughter Jane is sometimes listed in census returns as Jenny  and my great grandmother Maria's only daughter  (after eight surviving sons) was christened Jennie. 

Jane/Jenny Mason, daughter of Alice Rawcliffe and John Mason

 Two portraits of my great aunt Jannie Danson, only daughter of Maria (Rawcliffe) Danson


The name Jennet seems to have died out in the family, as in the population generally.  In 1871 and 1900 it did not appear in the list of top 200 Christian names for England and Wales - Jane, Janet, Jennie, Jean and Jenny were all there - but not Jennet. 

Perhaps it is time to revive the name!


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


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