Jenkinson, Sir Edward George (1835–1919), civil servant and police administrator, was son of the Rev. J. S. Jenkinson. Educated at Harrow school and at Haileybury College (owned by the East India Co.), he joined the Indian civil service in 1856. Appointed to the North West Provinces, Jenkinson rendered military service there throughout the Indian rebellion (1857–8). He received the Indian mutiny medal and achieved high office in the region after its return to British control in 1858. He was joint magistrate and deputy collector, first of Benares (Varanasi), then of Farukabad, and divisional commissioner both of Jhansi and Oudh. After years of poor health, he returned to England in 1879, where he retired (1880) with his wife Annabella (m. 1865), daughter of Capt. Thomas Monck Mason, RN, and their two sons Edward and Henry.
In 1882, after two uneventful years working on the staff of his cousin Lord Northbrook, first lord of the admiralty, Jenkinson was engaged as private secretary to the 5th Earl Spencer (qv), Liberal lord lieutenant of Ireland. Jenkinson arrived in Dublin with Spencer's viceregal retinue on the same day as the Phoenix Park murders (6 May 1882), when the newly appointed chief secretary, Lord Frederick Cavendish (qv) and the under-secretary, Thomas Henry Burke (qv), were stabbed to death by dissident Fenians styled ‘the Invincibles’. In August 1882 Jenkinson was seconded to Dublin Castle as assistant under-secretary for police and crime, a temporary post created on 9 May in reaction to the assassinations, and held initially by Col. Henry Brackenbury (1837–1914). Jenkinson became, in effect, head of Irish CID (Criminal Investigation Department). To the nationalist MP Frank Hugh O'Donnell (qv) he was Dublin Castle's ‘spymaster-general’. Spencer and Jenkinson, however, intended to integrate resident magistrates (RMs) further into the police system, with a view to greater efficiency, and to encourage closer RIC/DMP cooperation against militant secret societies. As C. S. Parnell (qv) asserted his authority over the National League (which replaced the Land League, October 1882), Jenkinson focused attention on the extremists. In September 1882 he formed a regional detective force to work closely with four divisional magistrates, replacing six temporary special resident magistrates (SRMs) appointed the previous December. He tried in vain to have the divisional magistrates made permanent, to link the police forces themselves through more efficient deployment of resources, and to resolve internal tensions over working conditions that had produced acute temporary unrest in both the DMP and RIC.
Over time Jenkinson's unionist views were tempered and he gradually adopted the opinion that limited self-government would help constitutional politicians to prevent further polarisation of a country in which they currently had no power. With constant access to regional intelligence, he grew to distinguish impatient nationalism from revolutionary republicanism. In 1883, the year he was created CB, Jenkinson reported bluntly that a ‘pretence’ of constitutional government had failed the people of Ireland, thereby justifying the National League's growing demand for home rule. His frank political opinion, undoubtedly beyond the purview of lesser police officials, foreshadowed his conversion to a home rule position.
When a series of Fenian bombings began in London 15 March 1883, Scotland Yard responded two days later by forming the Special Irish Branch. Jenkinson increased his existing contacts with Dublin lawyer Robert Anderson (qv), adviser on Fenianism at the Home Office. Eventually, in March 1884, he was given informal charge of anti-Fenian measures in Britain, delegating his Dublin office to the private secretaries, Dunsterville and (from 1885) S. A. W. Waters. From the home office in London, Jenkinson liaised with Scotland Yard, where he swiftly alienated senior CID officials, especially assistant commissioner James Monro, by criticising faults and inefficiencies. Quarrels arose over funding and division of responsibility, and inevitably (for the home rule convert) over the view, shared by Monro and Anderson, that the National League was not simply a constitutional movement but was linked to Fenianism. Monro even petitioned the home office on several occasions, attempting to discredit Jenkinson, whose temporary posts in Dublin offered no comfortable haven. In 1885, as Fenian bombings appeared to become fewer, London began to need him less.
In June 1885, with the brief return of a Conservative unionist viceroyalty, Jenkinson's work for Spencer had ended, but his Dublin Castle office survived at the government's pleasure. Lord Carnarvon (qv) agreed with him on misgovernment but was neither long enough a viceroy nor assertive enough to tackle the situation before leaving office in January 1886. None the less, he eased coercion on Jenkinson's advice. Aberdeen's (qv) similarly brief Liberal viceroyalty was replaced following the failure of the first home rule bill (August 1886) with three years of unionist retrenchment. Jenkinson's position at Dublin Castle had not been renewed and had officially ended even before the tories resumed office; his CID functions were absorbed by the RIC.
He remained at the Home Office until, in December 1886, he received a month's notice of dismissal. It was the cumulative result of whispering campaigns about suppression of anti-Parnell documents and Monro's enmity leading to the arrest of Jenkinson's Irish spies for extra-legal activities in London. In 1887 blackmail and tragedy dogged his retirement at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, when it was implied he had knowledge of a Mexican–Irish conspiracy against the crown involving British government officials. His sons both died in that year, Henry (a midshipman) drowned at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Edward (an army officer) of fever at Doelali, Bombay.
Jenkinson was knighted in 1888; became involved in unsuccessful mining speculation in Mexico; and retired, living at Thurlow, Holloway Hill, Godalming, Surrey, until his death 1 March 1919.