Jorian Edward Forwood Jenks, the son of Edward Jenks and Dorothy Forwood Jenks, was born in Oxford in 1899. At the time of his birth he reader in English law in the University of Oxford and was also the author of several important books on politics and law. (1)
Jenks was educated at the Harper Adams Agricultural College and Balliol College, whilst he also served in the First World War. Over the next few years he "travelled to New Zealand, Canada and Australia working, studying and lecturing, and gaining valuable experience in land management and soil erosion". (2)
Jenks returned to England and became an active member of the Rural Reconstruction Association. Jenks claimed that Britain needed to "repeople the land" and to encourage the "small working farmer", while making "every method of modern science available to British agriculture". (3)
Jenks purchased his own farm in Angmering, West Sussex. He suffered considerable economic problems running his farm. A decade of falling prices had caused bankruptcies among farmers and extensive sales of land at low prices. For example, between 1929 and 1931 the price of wheat dropped by 50 per cent and that of beef by 30 per cent. (4)
At an election meeting in Broadwater on 16th October 1933, Charles Bentinck Budd revealed he had recently met Sir Oswald Mosley and had been convinced by his political arguments and was now a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Budd added that if he was elected to the local council "you will probably see me walking about in a black shirt". (5)
Budd won the contest and the national press reported that Worthing was the first town in the country to elect a Fascist councillor. Worthing was now described as the "Munich of the South". Mosley now announced that Budd was the BUF Administration Officer for Sussex. Budd also caused uproar by wearing his black shirt to council meetings. (6)
On 4th January, 1934, Budd reported that over 150 people in Worthing had joined the British Union of Fascists. Some of the new members were former communists but the greatest intake had come from increasingly disaffected Conservatives. The Weekly Fascist News described the growth in membership as "phenomenal" as a few months ago members could be counted on one's fingers, and now "hundreds of young men and women -.together with the many leading citizens of the town - now participated in its activities". (7)
Oswald Mosley attracted large and enthusiastic audiences to his meetings. He devoted a high proportion of his time to speeches in market towns in agricultural counties where he "tapped into the traditional conservatism of a farming community" which had been suffering from intractable economic problems since the end of the First World War. His early campaigns pulled in several disgruntled farmers and ex-Conservatives including Jorian Jenks, Viscountess Dorothy Downe, Richard Reynell Bellamy, Ronald N. Creasy and Robert Saunders. (8)
Influenced by his own business experiences, Jorian Jenks became a "critic of this modern economy". Jenks was regulator contributor to Action under the pseudonym "Vergillius" and was the agricultural advisor to the party. He organised garden parties to raise funds for the BUF, a fairly common technique amongst the party's more affluent and rural supporters. (9)
Chris Hare argues: "Jorian Jenks was attracted to fascism because of its policy of self-sufficiency - the 'autarky' of the German Nazis. He saw industrialization and urbanization as corrosive developments that were alienating people from a natural way of living and their true inheritance - the land... Unfortunately, he also pointed the figure of blame at 'Jewish financiers' and increasingly, as the 30s progressed, aligned himself with the anti-Jewish policies of Nazi Germany." (10)
Jenks led the attack on Walter Elliott, the Minister for Agriculture. Each week a specific grievance was highlighted in Jenks' "Farmer's Diary". This included imports of lamb, bacon and fruit. He also attacked Elliott for continuing to give subsidies on imported beef. The Potato Marketing Board was also criticized for advising farmers to be cautious over planting, even though potatoes were still being imported. (11)
Jenks and the BUF also condemned those chain stores that were under foreign ownership and were responsible for huge imports of goods produced by cheap foreign labour. As Martin Pugh points out this included: "Marks & Spencer and Montagu Burton as Jewish, Woolworths as American, Unilever as Jewish-Dutch, and the Vesty Meat Trust for dealing in Argentine beef, not to mention Sainsbury, Liptons, Boots and Timothy Whites... All these combines were condemned for crushing small shopkeepers by means of bulk purchases, price-cutting, and bullying the producers into giving large discounts." (12)
George V died on 20th January, 1936. Edward VIII now became king and his relationship with Wallis Simpson was now being reported in the foreign press. The government instructed the British press not to refer to the relationship. Wallis divorced Ernest Simpson in 1936. He told his friends that he believed the new king wished to marry his wife. The prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, urged the king to consider the constitutional problems of marrying a divorced woman. Although the king received the political support from Winston Churchill, Lord Rothermere and Lord Beaverbrook, he was aware that his decision to marry Wallis Simpson would be unpopular with the British public. (13)
Edward VIII did receive support from Oswald Mosley. He attacked those criticized his relationship with Mrs. Simpson: "He who insults the British Crown thus insults the history and achievements of the British race... The King has been loyal and true to him." Mosley went on to state that the king deserved, after many years' faithful service as Prince of Wales, the right to live in private happiness with the woman he loved." It has been argued that one of the reasons for this was that Edward was a secret supporter of the British Union of Fascists. (14)
The BUF launched a campaign in favour of the King. Its slogan "Stand By The King" was chalked and painted in words three feet high on roads, pavements, buildings and hoardings. Jorian Jenks argued that the King "clearly believed in many of the things we believed in: in Britain and her Empire; in the need for real action to relieve the desperate poverty of the poor; in avoiding another war... and consequently in not picking a quarrel with Germany." (15)
Jenks, along with Commander Charles E. Hudson of Bognor Regis, became the most important figures in Sussex. An MI5 report stated: "Throughout the country the movement was well organised, led by enthusiastic persons and persistently active until the time the principal members were arrested... The Chief Constable estimated the number of adherents in Bognor as about 300.... Worthing membership was estimated to be about 60...As to the amount of activity, we know that the area was of sufficient importance of Mosley himself to speak at four meetings in recent times." (16)
Jenks and Oswald Mosley joined forces to speak at Worthing Town Hall in March, 1937. At the meeting Jenks was announced as the BUF candidate for Horsham and Worthing at the next election. The Worthing Journal accused Mosley of "bellowing", and thought Jenks was a poor speaker. However, he did not doubt he was "a very nice fellow", who should be thanked for giving permission for a part of his land to be excavated by archaeologists looking for the remains of the Angmering Roman villa. (17)
In December, 1938, John Becket and Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth, launched the Fascist and anti-Semitic journal, New Pioneer. Jorian Jenks began one of the magazines main writers and wrote several articles on organic husbandry. Others who contributed to the journal included Major General John Fuller, A. K. Chesterton, Edmund Blunden, Arthur Bryant, H. J. Massingham, Rolf Gardiner, Reginald Dorman-Smith and Anthony Ludovici. (18)
Jenks published Spring Comes Again in 1939. In the book he argued "for sustainable production, organic farming and small localised economies. He believed that artificial fertilisers were causing cancers and killing wildlife and the international trade in food, far from being a way of providing cheaper products, was a trap, impoverishing producers and depriving customers of real choice." (19)
It has been suggested that had "Jorian Jenks not have had associations with the British Union of Fascists, he may well have been regarded today as father of the Green Party. Notwithstanding that, he nevertheless influenced many people with his views on organic farming and good husbandry." (20)
The Second World War began on 3rd September, 1939. The following year Winston Churchill became prime minister, and warned that a German invasion was imminent and announced the imposition of Defence Regulation 18B. This legislation, passed on 22nd May, 1940, gave the Home Secretary the right to imprison without trial anybody he believed likely to "endanger the safety of the realm". Over the next few weeks 1,769 British subjects were interned of whom 763 had been members of the British Union of Fascists. (21)
Of the fascists British fascists arrested over 600 came from Sussex. (22) This included Jorian Jenks and a government report pointed out: "The internment of the persons whose cases have come before the Committee or whose cases are sent herewith has done much to stamp out Fascist activity in West Sussex, but it is evident that there are still fascist sympathizers and that the return of any of their Leaders might well cause a recrudescence of their activities." (23) Jenks was eventually released in July 1941, on the grounds of ill health, he suffered from acute asthma. (24)
In 1946 Jorian Jenks joined forces with Lady Eve Balfour to establish the Soil Association. The catalyst was the publication of Balfour's The Living Soil (1943). According to the Soil Association: "The book presented the case for an alternative, sustainable approach to agriculture that has since become known as organic farming." Jenks became editor of the organization's journal Mother Earth. During the late 1940s the Association involved far-right and even anti Semitic elements, remnants of the defunct BUF, and was driven by far-right political ideas as much as ecological concerns. (25)
Jorian Edward Forwood Jenks died on 20th August 1963.
Jorian Edward Forward Jenks was born in Oxford in 1889, the son of a solicitor and later prominent academic and constitutional history writer. Jorian himself was educated at Haileybury, the Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire, and later at Balliol College, Oxford. Prior to Oxford, he had gained experience as a farm manager in Berkshire and had travelled to New Zealand, Canada and Australia working, studying and lecturing, and gaining valuable experience in land management and soil erosion. After Oxford, he spent a year as an agricultural lecturer in Devon and during this time married Australian, Sophie Isobel Chester, by whom he later had two children. Jenks then realised his life ambition - to farm on his own account - and took over the tenancy of Ecclesden Farm in Angmering.
As regards his political consciousness, Jenks was attracted to the only Party which supported the cause of home agriculture and therefore joined the BUF. But Jenks was not an ordinary member; he soon became one of the trusted lieutenants of Sir Oswald Mosley and was quickly appointed the BUF's agricultural advisor. He developed the Party's agricultural policy and became a prolific writer in BUF publications and other periodicals - sometimes writing under the pen-name "Virgilius". Jenks advocated farming by organic methods and was convinced that many of the modern diseases and the rise of cancer statistics were the result of the use of chemical fertilisers.
He was adopted as the prospective MP for Worthing and Horsham and was introduced to his constituency at Worthing Town Hall on 12 April 1937, Sir Oswald Mosley himself giving a 1½ hour talk in support. There was a large police presence but no demonstrations took place. Jenks was essentially a studious man and occasionally wrote to the local press answering criticisms of the BUF and insisting that they were a Party advocating freedom and peace. Jenks seems to have been a low-key candidate and appeared happy farming at Ecclesden and continuing his writing. Possibly his best known book Spring Comes Again was launched in mid-1939 and was reviewed by the Littlehampton Gazette who referred to him as the "Prospective Fascist Candidate for this Division". The intended 1940 election never took place due to the outbreak of war.
It must have been a severe blow to Jenks that he was fined £1 in June 1939 for working a horse at Ecclesden while lame because this would have been against all his principles. Shortly after, he gave up the farm at Ecclesden and moved to Forest Row where he bred "Tuberculin-tested pigs". This, however, was not to last long as he was rounded up and detained as a leading Fascist. As to why, this is not exactly known as Jenks's file, like that of many other BUF detainees, appears to have been "lost" or is not available for public scrutiny in view of its sensitive nature!
Jorian Jenks was attracted to fascism because of its policy of self-sufficiency - the "autarky" of the German Nazis. He saw industrialisation and urbanisation as corrosive developments that were alienating people from a natural way of living and their true inheritance - the land... In his book, Spring Comes Again, which argues for sustainable production, organic farming and small localised economies. He believed that artificial fertilisers were causing cancers and killing wildlife and the international trade in food, far from being a way of providing cheaper products, was a trap, impoverishing producers and depriving customers of real choice. Unfortunately, he also pointed the figure of blame at "Jewish financiers" and increasingly, as the 30s progressed, aligned himself with the anti-Jewish policies of Nazi Germany.
Jorian Jenks... was involved in the formation of a number of influential ecological concerns. Having been forced from his farming during the "economic blizzard" of the 1930s (and by his own poor health - he was a chronic asthmatic), Jenks because a self-styled "critic of this modern economy". A regulator contributor to Action under the pseudonym "Vergillius", and a senior BUF figure in his own right, Jenks was authorised to carry out the work of the BUF if Mosley was arrested. He was interned in 1940. Jenks envisaged a slow Spenglarian disintegration of British society, rather than the sudden "crisis" and collapse believed in by most Mosleyites.