Kennedy, Rann (DNB00)

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KENNEDY, RANN (1772–1851), schoolmaster and poet, born in 1772, was of Scottish origin, being descended from a branch of the Ayrshire Kennedys, which settled at Shenstone, Staffordshire, early in the eighteenth century. His father, Benjamin Kennedy, was a surgeon, who went about 1773 to America to introduce the then fashionable remedy of inoculation, and settled at Annapolis in Maryland. His mother was daughter of Illedge Maddox, who was of Welsh family, and resided on his estate at Withington, near Shrewsbury. On his father's death in 1784, Rann returned with his mother to Withington, where he was brought up. In 1791 he went to St. John's, Cambridge, then the most famous college in the university, and there he formed a lasting friendship with S. T. Coleridge. After obtaining his degree (B.A. 1795 and M.A. 1798) he took holy orders, and accepted a mastership in King Edward's School, Birmingham, becoming second master in 1807. From 1797 to 1817 he was also curate of St. Paul's, Birmingham, and from 1817 till about 1847 incumbent, his congregation having purchased for him the next presentation. He gave up his school work about 1836 on inheriting from his cousin, John Kennedy, a small property called the Fox Hollies, near Birmingham, where he lived until his death. John Johnstone, M.D. [q. v.], and Dr. Samuel Parr [q. v.] were his most intimate friends. He died at his son Charles's house in St. Paul's Square, Birmingham, on 2 Jan. 1851.

In 1802 he married Julia, daughter of John Hall (1739–1797) [q. v.], historical engraver, by Mary de Gilles, a French Huguenot. His wife's brother, Dr. George William Hall, was master of Pembroke College, Oxford (1809–43), and canon of Gloucester. Kennedy's sons Benjamin Hall [q. v.] and Charles Rann [q. v.] are noticed separately. A third son, George John (d. 1847), was master at Rugby (see Between Whiles, 1st edition, pp. 378–9); the fourth son, William James Kennedy (1814–1891), educated at Birmingham grammar school and St. John's College, Cambridge (B.A. 1837), was ordained in 1838, became first secretary of the National Society for the Promotion of Education, was from 1848 to 1878 H.M. inspector of schools, and was vicar of Barnwood, Gloucestershire, from 1878 till his death. The sons had very distinguished careers at Cambridge. All won the Porson prize, and the three elder were senior classics (1827, 1831, 1834).

Kennedy was earnest and enthusiastic, and a determined enemy of intolerance and bigotry. His literary attainments were high, his knowledge of the English poets singularly wide, and he came into personal relations with many eminent men of letters, including, besides Coleridge and Washington Irving, Wordsworth, James Montgomery, Cary, the translator of Dante, Charles Kemble, and Mrs. Siddons. His own lyric poem entitled ‘The Reign of Youth’ exhibits rare qualities of imagination and expression. A poem which he published in 1817 on the death of the Princess Charlotte received the highest praise from Washington Irving, who quotes from it in his ‘Sketch-Book.’

Kennedy published: 1. ‘A Poem on the Death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales,’ London, 1817, 8vo. 2. ‘A Church of England Psalm-Book, or portions of the Psalter adapted … to the Services of the Established Church,’ 1821, 8vo. 3. ‘Thoughts on the Music and Words of Psalmody as at present in use among the Members of the Church of England,’ Birmingham, 1821, 8vo; 2nd edition, London, 1822; 6th edition, 1827. 4. ‘A Tribute in Verse to the Character of George Canning,’ London, 1827, 8vo. 5. ‘Britain's Genius: a Mask, on occasion of the Marriage of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain. … To which is added “The Reign of Youth, a Lyrical Poem,”’ London, 1840, 8vo. He also contributed notes to the Italian edition of Byron's poems published in 1842, and assisted his son, Charles Rann Kennedy, in the translation of ‘Virgil,’ published in 1849, he undertaking the first four Pastorals, the Georgics, and the first four Æneids. Some pieces by him will be found in the volume of poems issued by Charles Rann Kennedy in 1857. ‘The Reign of Youth,’ with a masterly rendering of it into Pindarics by Professor Jebb, the verses on Princess Charlotte, an address to Edmund Kean, and an unfinished poem, ‘Haughmond Hill,’ in the style of Goldsmith's ‘Deserted Village,’ were published by Benjamin Hall Kennedy in his ‘Between Whiles;’ 2nd edition, 1882.

[B. H. Kennedy's Between Whiles, 2nd edition, 1882; Gent. Mag. 1852, pt. i. p. 206; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. E. P.