The Darling of all Fair Traders


Gertrude Jekyll’s great great grandfather was John Jekyll (1674-1732), a nephew of Sir Joseph Jekyll (1662-1738), a distinguished lawyer, who was Master of the Rolls. After travelling widely in Europe, he settled in America, where he had a family; his wife, Hannah Clark of New York, bore him nine children. John Jekyll was a respected Collector of His Majesty’s Customs for the Port of Boston, Massachussets, from 1707 until his death in 1732. Commenting on his life, The Boston Weekly Newsletter wrote: ‘He was publicly conspicuous of his office for his faithfulness and application in his Duty to the Crown; by his courteous Behaviour to the Merchant, he became the Darling of all Fair Traders’.


c5e14portraitHis son, Captain Edward Jekyll, Gertrude’s great grandfather, returned to England and became a naval officer. His career was stunted by his support of the American colonies; in 1775, it was reported that: ‘Giving free scope to his opinions as a native American, he incurred the wrath of Lord Sandwich’, who was then the First Lord of the Admiralty. It was he that invented the sandwich, when he called for a piece of beef between two slices of bread during a 24 hour gambling session.


The Jekyll name survives as a place name in the USA. Jekyll Island (originally spelled Jekyl Island, with only one l) was the name given to Whale Island, off the coast of Georgia, when the colony of Georgia was founded in the early years of the 18th century. The name came from Sir Joseph Jekyll who was much admired by the colony’s founder, General Oglethorpe. In 1886, it became an exclusive club and, today, it is a tourist resort in the State of Georgia.