R. P. Jenkins, Esq.
24 June 1861
Volume 4, page 126, sitting number 4576.
[Identified in the Silvy daybooks and on the album page as 'R.P. Jenkins,' this is probably Richard Palmer Jenkins of the Bengal Civil Service.]
Born in Calcutta on 14 January 1826, Richard Palmer Jenkins was the eldest son of Richard Castle Jenkins, who served with the army in Bengal. His mother was Anna Bazett Catherine née Palmer, daughter of John Palmer of Calcutta, the most influential and wealthiest British merchant in British India for the first three decades of the nineteenth century. The ‘agency house’ he founded was involved in banking, the opium business, shipping, plantation agriculture and global trade. ‘When his firm went bankrupt in 1830, thousands of people, European and Indian, were ruined, triggering the worst commercial crisis in British India up to that time’ (Anthony Webster, The Richest East Indian Merchant, 2007).
Richard Castle Jenkins, the sitter's father, also became a merchant in India after he left the army but by the 1830s he had returned to England and bought Beachley Lodge near Tidenham in Gloucestershire. According to a gazetteer of 1868, the house was ‘pleasantly situated, […] commanding fine views of the Severn and the surrounding country.’ A few years later another gazetteer described it as ‘a fine seat.’
Following his education at Haileybury in Hertfordshire, a school for the children of East India Company employees, Richard junior joined the Bengal Civil Service, becoming a Commissioner in Patna.
He began a period of extended leave in England in June 1859 (Homeward Mail from India, China and the East, 20 June 1859). When the census was taken on 7 April 1861 Richard was staying with his parents at Beachley Lodge near Tidenham in Gloucestershire. Later that year he was listed among the passengers travelling from Marseilles to Calcutta (Home News for India, China and the Colonies, 19 August 1861).
In 1876 in Scotland he married Mary Campbell Allen, eldest surviving daughter of Thomas William Murray Allen of Glenfeochan, Argyllshire.
In 1881 the couple were living at Beachley Lodge with Richard’s elderly parents. In 1891 he and Mary were renting Sedbury Park, Tidenham, a Georgian house designed by Sir Robert Smirke, who also designed the British Museum. Their household included a nephew called Robert and nine servants.
Richard Palmer Jenkins died on 1 October 1899 at Beachley Lodge, Tidenham. He left an estate valued at £40,402.