Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kennaway, John

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KENNAWAY, Sir JOHN (1758–1836), soldier and diplomatist, born 6 March 1758, third son of William Kennaway of Exeter, by Frances, daughter of Aaron Tozer, was educated at the Exeter grammar school. At the age of fourteen he entered the military service of the East India Company, and was wrecked at the mouth of the Ganges on his first voyage to India in 1772. His first experiences of Indian life were extremely distasteful to him, and it was only on the urgent advice of an older friend that he remained in the country. In 1780 he was raised to the rank of captain, and served under Sir Eyre Coote [q. v.] in his campaign in the Carnatic against Hyder, who, after making himself rajah of Mysore, invaded that territory and threatened Madras. Through all the arduous campaign up to the peace of 1786, including the battle near Porto Novo, the capture of Tripassoon, Parambakam, and other places, Kennaway played his part. On his return to Bengal in 1786 he was appointed aide-de-camp to the Marquis Cornwallis, the governor-general. Cornwallis soon discovered Kennaway's high diplomatic abilities, and gave him an opportunity for their employment. By a treaty made with the East India Company in 1768 the nizam of Hyderabad had agreed to cede the Guntoor circar to the company, but under various pretexts he had evaded this obligation, and the company had not enforced it. In 1788, however, Cornwallis sent Kennaway, ‘in whose prudence and ability,’ he wrote, ‘I could confide,’ to demand the full execution of the treaty. Kennaway not only carried out this mission with success, but also induced the nizam, whose confidence and friendship he completely won, to make a treaty of alliance with the company against Tippoo Sultan. For these services Kennaway was created a baronet on 25 Feb. 1791, and in the following year he was appointed by Cornwallis to conclude a treaty with Tippoo Sultan in concert with the agents of the nizam and the Mahrattas. By the terms of this treaty Tippoo Sultan agreed to cede half his dominion, to pay three crores and six lacs (3,600,000l.) to the allies, to release all his prisoners, and to deliver up two of his sons as hostages for the due fulfilment of the treaty. The arrangement of the details was entirely in the hands of Kennaway, who with untiring patience brought the negotiations to a successful issue [see under Cornwallis, Charles, first Marquis]. He settled at Hyderabad as the first English resident there, but in 1794 failing health compelled him to return to England. He bought the estate of Escot in Devonshire, and resided there till his death on 1 Jan. 1836. During the last few years of his life he was afflicted with blindness. He married in 1797 Charlotte, daughter of James Amyatt, esq., M.P., by whom he had seven sons and five daughters.

[Correspondence of Charles, first Marquis Cornwallis, ed. C. Ross, 3 vols. London, 1859; Gent. Mag. 1836, pt. i. p. 313.]

R. K. D.