SIR LEOLINE JENKINS (1623-1685), English lawyer and diplomatist, was the son of a Welsh country gentleman. He was born in 1623 and was educated at Jesus College, Oxford, of which he was elected a fellow at the Restoration in 1660, having been an ardent royalist during the civil war and commonwealth; and in 1661 he became head of the college. In the same year he was made registrar of the consistory court of Westminster; in 1664 deputy judge of the court of arches; about a year later judge of the admiralty court; in 1689 judge of the prerogative court of Canterbury. In these offices Jenkins did enduring work in elucidating and establishing legal principles, especially in relation to international law and admiralty jurisdiction. He was selected to draw up the claim of Charles II. to succeed to the property of his mother, Henrietta Maria, on her death in August 1666, and while in Paris for this purpose he succeeded in defeating the rival claim of the duchess of Orleans, being rewarded by a knighthood on his return. In 1673, on being elected member for Hythe, Jenkins resigned the headship of Jesus College. He was one of the English representatives at the congress of Cologne in 1673, and at the more important congress of Nijmwegen in 1676-1679. He was made a privy councillor in February 1680 and became secretary of state in April of the same year, in which office he was the official leader of the opposition to the Exclusion Bill, though he was by no means a pliant tool in the hands of the court. He resigned office in 1684, and died on the 1st of September 1685. He left most of his property to Jesus College, Oxford, including his books, which he bequeathed to the college library, built by himself; and he left some important manuscripts to All Souls College, where they are preserved. Jenkins left his impress on the law of England in the Statute of Frauds, and the Statute of Distributions, of which he was the principal author, and of which the former profoundly affected the mercantile law of the country, while the latter regulated the inheritance of the personal property of intestates. He was never married.
See William Wynne, Life of Sir Leoline Jenkins (2 vols., London, 1724), which contains a number of his diplomatic despatches, letters, speeches and other papers. See also Sir William Temple, Works, vol. ii. (4 vols., 1770); Anthony a Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (Fasti) edited by P. Bliss (4 vols., London, 1813-1820), and History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford, edited by J. Gutch (Oxford, 1792-1796).
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