John Henniker-Major, 2nd Lord Henniker
John Henniker-Major, 2nd Lord Henniker, was responsible for the 1810 Jubilee Feast at Worlingworth Hall. He was born on 19th April 1752, the son of the 1st Baron Henniker and his wife Anne Major (pictured below). He was educated at Eton School, admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge in 1767, and he was made a Master of Arts by royal mandate in 1771, and, a year or two after, to the same rank in the University of Oxford. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society on 15th December 1785.
In 1775, he set off on the Northern Tour, that is a tour of the Baltic, commencing at Copenhagen and visiting ports of the Baltic states and Russia. It is suggested that he might have been following in his grandfather's footsteps. He kept a journal of his travels which apparently survives and is held in the archives of a Cambridge college.
He was called to the Bar by the Hon. Society of Lincoln's Inn, 1777. He was elected to Parliament for the constituency of New Romney in 1785, a seat he held until 1790 and he then stood for the town and port of Dover in 1790. On August 10th 1792, he assumed by Royal Licence the additional surname of Major, in compliance with the will of his maternal grandfather, Sir John Major, Bt.
On the 27th April 1791, he married Emily Jones, daughter of a Welsh gentleman, but they had no issue. From June 1798 until April 30th 1802, he commanded a body of infantry, ninety in number, raised for the defence of the parish of Worlingworth, and of the eight adjoining parishes, Southolt, Athelington, Horham, Wilby, Brundish, Tannington, Saxtead and Bedfield. This body of infantry, drawn from the local inhabitants, was called the "Loyal Worlingworth Volunteers" and was prepared to defend their district in the event of invasion by the French.
On the return of peace, he presented his officers and men with a silver medal, with the representation of Worlingworth Church and Hall on one side, and, on the reverse, one heart surrounded by nine hands, expressive of the number of parishes, united in a Gordian knot, with appropriate embellishments. The colours were presented by the Honourable Mrs. Henniker-Major, to the corps in 1798 and were placed in the parish church of Worlingworth.
In October 1810, Worlingworth Hall was the venue for the Jubilee Feast in commemoration of King George III's 50 years reign. This was probably the greatest event ever to be staged in the parish. This is how the Ipswich Journal reported the occasion:
'The day on which our beloved Sovereign completed the 50th year of his reign, was celebrated at Worlingworth by Lord Henniker with that characteristic loyalty and munificence that had so consistently marked his Lordship's conduct. The day was ushered in with ringing of bells (John Jessop!) and a display of England's proud ensign from the church steeple. The most prominent festivity of the day was an ox roasted whole and afterwards distributed to the populace, in the presence of the Duchess of Chandos, Lord and Lady Henniker and other members of that family. The concourse of people collected to witness this display of ancient British hospitality was very considerable. The number was estimated at between 4 and 5000 but, so ample was the supply of roast beef, beer and bread that all whose appetites solicited them to partake of the feast went away perfectly satisfied. The following lines were written on the bullock being roasted:
Mercy, saith God, is better far
Than costly sacrifices are;
My Lord both duties has in view,
The sacrifice and mercy too;
The sacrifice in mercy feeds
The poor man who that mercy needs.
It is clear from correspondence between John and his aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Chandos, that there was a deep affection between nephew and aunt. John also held a deep affection for the parish of Worlingworth where his maternal grandfather John Major was buried and there is evidence in letters that he visited the Hall with his aunt on a number of occasions.
John Henniker-Major died two years after the death of his wife Emily, on the 4th December 1821 to be succeeded in his titles by his nephew John.