Soame Jenyns

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Soame Jenyns was born on the 1st of January 1704 and died on the 18th of December 1787, he was an English writer.

He was born in London, and was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge.

In 1742 he was chosen M.P. for Cambridge shire, in which his property (Bottisham Hall, which he inherited from his father in 1740) was situated, and he afterwards sat for the borough of Dunwich and the town of Cambridge.

From 1755 to 1780 he was one of the commissioners of the board of trade.

In 1776 Jenyns published his View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.

Though at one period of his life he had affected a kind of deistic skepticism, he had now returned to orthodoxy, and there seems no reason to doubt his sincerity, questioned at the time, in defending Christianity on the ground of its total agreement with the principles of human reason.

In 1747 he had been returned for Cambridge shire with Philip Yorke, Lord Hardwicke paying half his expenses.

There was some discontent in the county at both the representatives being members of the Yorke group, and in 1753 Lord Granby declared himself a candidate.

Lord Hardwicke was unwilling to face the ‘monstrous expense’ of a contest on Jenyns’s behalf: ‘he cannot argue or suppose that it is reasonable that things should go on upon the unequal foot they were upon’.

Jenyns had to be ‘laid aside’, though assured that he would certainly be taken care of’.

When the general election came, Montfort arranged with Newcastle for him to be returned for Sir Jacob Downing’s borough of Dunwich: Jenyns paid £500, and the Treasury found the other £500.

He was also given a secret service pension of £600 p.a., presumably until a place could be found for him, and in December 1755 was appointed a lord of Trade.

His first wife was the natural daughter of his uncle, colonel Soame, of Deerham Grange, in Norfolk.

With this lady he received a very considerable fortune, but in all other respects the union was unhappy.

After some years she eloped from him with a Leicestershire gentleman; and a separation being agreed upon in form, Mr. Jenyns consented to allow her a maintenance, which was regularly paid until her death, in 1753.

This affair, it may be conjectured, interrupted the plan of life he had formed after leaving Cambridge.

If we may judge from his poetical efforts, his turn was gay, lively, and satirical.

His songs and other amatory pieces were probably written when young, and bespeak a mind sufficiently at ease to trifle with the passions, and not always attentive to delicacy where it interfered with wit.

In 1776 Jenyns published his View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.

Though at one period of his life he had affected a kind of deistic skepticism he had now returned to orthodoxy, and there seems no reason to doubt his sincerity, questioned at the time, in defending Christianity on the ground of its total variance with the principles of human reason.

The work was deservedly praised in its day for its literary merits, but is so plainly the production of an amateur in theology that as a scientific treatise it is valueless.