Jernigans have been woven throughout the fabric of English and American history. The origins of the name are owed to the first recorded reference to "Jernegan or Jernengham" in 11th century England. King Canute brought highly regarded captains and soldiers to England following his trip to Rome, most esteemed of them were Jernegan (or Jernengham) and Jenhingho [now Jennings], and granted them manors and estates in Norfolk and Suffolk, England. Various generations of Jernigan ancestors of Medieval England bore the title of knight, most prominently among the Knights of Suffolk. Jernigans served the English crown through many monarchs and periods of upheaval. The fall of Queen Mary I [Bloody Mary] likely resulted in the decline of the Jernegan name in England. As Sir Henry Jernegan was a close confidant and trusted advisor to Queen Mary, the name fell from prominence among the ruling elite with Mary's death. Sir Henry Jernegan was the Vice-Chamberlain and Master of the Household for the queen and their alliance would prove to unseat the name same in later years. However, thanks to the discovery of the new world and settlements in America, the Jernegan name was able to continue to thrive as early settlers of Virginia. Descendants of Thomas Jernegan began to branch out across the eastern and southern states. Later the name moved west with westward expansion and now resides in most states of the United States of America. Not surprisingly, the name appears to have completely disappeared from England, following an amazing run of strength and resilence throughout the middle ages. Jernigans continue to be warriors, land owners, farmers, and prominent citizens some one thousand years after "Jernegan" was first granted lands and estates in England by King Canute. Research indicates that the first recorded "Jernegan" [forebearer of Jernigan] was most likley of Danish origin, perhaps Norman. Incidents of the name have been recorded in Medieval France and England histories. However, the most prominent representation I discovered was related in "hundred of Forehoe: Cossey, An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: volume 2" (1805). The account contained here seems the most logical of all accounts I've read relating to the "original" Jernegan ancestor. His name was simply "Jernegan or perhaps Jernengham." Based on the account, Jernegan would have been born sometime prior to 1000 AD, likely around 980 AD, and was a loyal and faithful servant of King Sweyn I of Denmark. As a result of his faithful service to King Sweyn, "Jernegan" along with "Jenhingho (now Jennings)" [possibly brothers], were granted lands and manors in Norfolk and Suffolk, England by King Canute (Sweyn's son), who ruled England from 1016 to 1035. From these origins, the modern day Jernigan, Jernegan, Jernigham, Jennings, etc. have evolved. The Jernegan name is associated with many Knights of Suffolk during Medieval times. As knights and wealthy land owners, early Jernegans married among the elite class of the English lords and enjoyed relative prominence and prosperity until the fall of Queen Mary I in 1558. The Jernegan name in all its variants began to disappear from England and began to take roots in America in the 17th century. From there it has progressed along several distinct lines and continues to be a prominent name in America with a rich history dating back some one thousand years.
Nationality & Ethnicity
Denmark: Recorded in the Jernegan pedigree and related in "Hundred of Forehoe: Cossey, An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, Volume 2" (1805). "...Canute King of Denmarke, and of England after his return from Rome, brought diverse captains and souldiers from Denmark, whereof the greatest part were christened here in England, and began to settle themselves here, of whom, Jernegan, or Jernengham, and Jenhingho, now Jennings, were of the most esteem with Canute, who gave unto the said Jerningham, certain Royalties, and at a Parliament held at Oxford, the said King Canute did give unto the said Jerningham, certaine mannors in Norfolke, and to Jennings, certain manors lying upon the sea side, near Horwich in Suffolke, in regard of their former services done to his father Swenus, King of Denmark." Predominantly English in recorded history. However, the early origins of the name indicate it originated in mainland Europe prior to 1000AD in honored service to King Sweyn I of Denmark.
These are the earliest records we have of the Jernigan family.