1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kennedy, Benjamin Hall
|←Kennedy||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 15
Kennedy, Benjamin Hall
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KENNEDY, BENJAMIN HALL (1804-1889), English scholar, was born at Summer Hill, near Birmingham, on the 6th of November 1804, the eldest son of Rann Kennedy (1772-1851), who came of a branch of the Ayrshire family which had settled in Staffordshire. Rann Kennedy was a scholar and man of letters, several of whose sons rose to distinction. B. H. Kennedy was educated at Birmingham and Shrewsbury schools, and St John's College, Cambridge. After a brilliant university career he was elected fellow and classical lecturer of St John's College in 1828. Two years later he became an assistant master at Harrow, whence he went to Shrewsbury as headmaster in 1836. He retained this post until 1866, the thirty years of his rule being marked by a long series of successes won by his pupils, chiefly in classics. When he retired from Shrewsbury a large sum was collected as a testimonial to him, and was devoted partly to the new school buildings and partly to the founding of a Latin professorship at Cambridge. The first two occupants of the chair were both Kennedy's old pupils, H. A. J. Munro and J. E. B. Mayor. In 1867 he was elected regius professor of Greek at Cambridge and canon of Ely. From 1870 to 1880 he was a member of the committee for the revision of the New Testament. He was an enthusiastic advocate for the admission of women to a university education, and took a prominent part in the establishment of Newnham and Girton colleges. He was also a keen politician of liberal sympathies. He died near Torquay on the 6th of April 1889. Among a number of classical school-books published by him are two, a Public School Latin Primer and Public School Latin Grammar, which were for long in use in nearly all English schools.
His other chief works are: Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus (2nd ed., 1885), Aristophanes, Birds (1874); Aeschylus, Agamemnon (2nd ed., 1882), with introduction, metrical translation and notes; a commentary on Virgil (3rd ed., 1881); and a translation of Plato, Theaetetus (1881). He contributed largely to the collection known as Sabrinae Corolla, and published a collection of verse in Greek, Latin and English under the title of Between Whiles (2nd ed., 1882), with many autobiographical details.
His brother, Charles Rann Kennedy (1808-1867), was educated at Shrewsbury school and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated as senior classic (1831). He then became a barrister. From 1849-1856 he was professor of law at Queen's College, Birmingham. As adviser to Mrs Swinfen, the plaintiff in the celebrated will case Swinfen v. Swinfen (1856), he brought an action for remuneration for professional services, but the verdict given in his favour at Warwick assizes was set aside by the court of Common Pleas, on the ground that a barrister could not sue for the recovery of his fees. The excellence of Kennedy's scholarship is abundantly proved by his translation of the orations of Demosthenes (1852-1863, in Bohn's Classical Library), and his blank verse translation of the works of Virgil (1861). He was also the author of New Rules for Pleading (2nd ed., 1841) and A Treatise on Annuities (1846). He died in Birmingham on the 17th of December 1867.
Another brother, Rev. William James Kennedy (1814-1891), was a prominent educationalist, and the father of Lord Justice Sir William Rann Kennedy (b. 1846), himself a distinguished Cambridge scholar.