John Jenkins

President and Acting Governor of Albemarle 1672 to 1676

President and Acting Governor of Albemarle 1680 to 1681

Before his departure Governor Peter Carteret issued to John Jenkins, President of the Executive Council and Lieutenant-Colonel of the Albemarle militia, a commission endowing him with all of the power of Governor.

Thomas Eastchurch had begun his political maneuvering as he sought the post of governor of Albemarle County prior to the 1673 death of his relative, the Lord Treasurer Clifford, and several of the Lords Proprietors had promised that he would have it. At the Albemarle County elections held in September of 1675 in conformance with the terms of the Fundamental Constitutions, Eastchurch and his faction acquired control of the Assembly, and Eastchurch was elected its speaker.

It appears that after Eastchurch gained control of the Assembly, he arranged to have the Acting Governor John Jenkins arrested and imprisoned for several unnamed misdemeanors. In the short time that he was in control of the government, Eastchurch apparently used only the title of Speaker, and not that of Governor. Eastchurch may have been emboldened to take the reins of government on the basis of the earlier promises that he would be appointed governor, but his seizure of power was premature.

In breaking their four year silence the Lords Proprietors by their letter of 21 October 1676, acknowledged letters from the government in Albemarle County, dated 17 November 1675 and another dated 28 March 1676, both of which were delivered by Thomas Miller. They also commented on their discussions with Eastchurch and commended the government for its procedure with Lieutenant Colonel Jenkins. From the tone of the Lords Proprietors' letter one has the impression that as late as 28 March, John Jenkins was still in prison; however, other evidence shows that on 29 March he was signing a statement which was sworn in court concerning the blasphemous words of Thomas Miller.

Jenkins regained the Acting Governor's seat after having been released from prison by "a party of riotous persons in armes and these with some others vote him Generalissime." Jenkins turned out the Lords Proprietors' Deputies and dissolved the Assembly, but it appeared to one anonymous observer that George Durant was really governing, since he was the most active and uncontrollable. In view of the fact that Durant called himself a mariner and that we have evidence of a number of his voyages, it seems unlikely that he was frequently available in the county. In fact, he gave a power of attorney to his wife, and she used it to appear in court, taking actions against others in financial matters.

Henry Hudson, a friend of Miller's, testified that in July of 1675 that he was at the home of John Jenkins when he overheard Jenkins' wife, John Culpeper, and Thomas Willis conspiring to charge Thomas Miller with speaking treasonable words. Miller was brought before the Assembly of Albemarle County in March of 1676.

Following that hearing Jenkins committed Miller in irons as a prisoner, and in May of 1676 Miller was sent as a prisoner to Virginia for trial before Governor William Berkeley and the Virginia Council. Despite any influence Culpeper may have had with Berkeley, the Virginia Council acquitted Miller of the charges.

Timothy Biggs, who attended the Virginia trial, brought this news back to Albemarle County. Culpeper was also in Jamestown at the time of Miller's trial, and he was seen several times in town with Miller after the trial. He made an enemy in Thomas Miller by this testimony and this would probably be a major contributing factor in Miller's charges which later led to Culpeper's trial in 1679 for high treason. In July of 1676, Miller embarked in the ship Constant for England, where he met with the Lords Proprietors to explain what had happened.

John Jenkins, governor of the Carolinas, was becoming more and more inneffectual in the opinion of some of the inhabitants of the proprietary colony. As a result, a 'proprietary' party was established by Thomas Miller, a customs official. Miller, supported by other inhabitants of the Albemarle province (i.e. the region that would later become the state of North Carolina), assumed the position of governor, and undertook to govern in the place of Jenkins.
Virtually nothing is known about President John Jenkins' second term as Acting Governor - 1680-1681. Former President John Harvey died in January of 1679/80. John Jenkins once again took the reins of the Albemarle County government as President of the Executive Council and Acting Governor until he died on December 17, 1681.
Click Here for what little is known about the Executive Council under President John Jenkins.
If anyone has additional information, please contact me at All help is greatly appreciated.
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