The Jekyll family line from which Gertrude Jekyll was descended can be traced back 13 generations; the name is probably of Danish origin. William Jekyll (1470-1539) came to London from Lincolnshire; he became Purveyor of Forage for the King’s Horse. Down the years, the family were lawyers, clergymen, bankers, merchants, soldiers, sailors and servants of the British crown.
A distinguished lawyer, Sir Joseph Jekyll (1662-1738), Master of the Rolls, actually left money in his will to reduce the national debt; his portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller is shown above. Sir Joseph’s nephew, John Jekyll, Gertrude’s great great grandfather, lived in America and was Collector of Customs in Boston, Massachussets from 1707 to 1732; he discharged his job with such competence and fairness that he was described as the ‘Darling of all Fair Traders’ in New England.