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

Jenner was born at St Columb Majormarker on 8 August 1848. He was the son of Henry Lascelles Jenner, who was one of two curates to the Rector of St. Columb Majormarker, and later consecrated though not enthroned as the first Bishop of Dunedin and the grandson of Herbert Jenner-Fust. 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 Museummarker, his father then being the Rector of Winghammarker, 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",

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 Londonmarker, his subject being the Manx language. The following year he read another paper on the subject of the Cornish language at Mount's Baymarker. In 1877 he discovered, whilst working in the British Museummarker, 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 Caernarfonmarker. 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

and here in another passage from the Handbook of the Cornish language, Jenner gives the following view


Jenner married Kitty Lee Rawlings in 1877 (she was a novelist and author of non-fiction under the name Kitty Lee).

Political leanings

As a Tory and a committed Jacobite, Jenner and his wife were involved with the Order of the White Rose (OWR), a society of Stuart sympathizers of which he was chancellor, conducting the order's rituals. (The Jenners first visited Scotland in 1892, and Scots Gaelic was one of his many languages.) He also actively supported The Royalist, a journal which ran from 1890 to 1905, and organized several exhibitions at the New Gallery, Regent Street, including the Stuart exhibition in 1889: it was said that Queen Victoria snubbed him because of the legitimist views promoted by these exhibitions. He withdrew from active involvement with the Order before the First World War but remained fervently royalist and right-wing.

Later years

Commemorative Plaque on the home of the Jenners in Hayle
After working at the British Museum for more than forty years, in 1909 Jenner and his wife Kitty retired to Haylemarker, his wife's home town, and in January 1912 he was elected as the Librarian of the Morrab Librarymarker, 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. Jenner had married Kitty Lee Rawlings, herself a novelist and writer on art, in 1877. He died on 8 May 1934 and is buried in St. Uny's Church, Lelantmarker.

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.

See also


External links

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