Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kennedy, Gilbert (1678-1745)

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KENNEDY, GILBERT (1678–1745), Irish divine, son of Gilbert Kennedy, who was successively minister of Girvan, Ayrshire, and Dundonald, co. Down, as born at Dundonald in 1678. In 1697 he entered Glasgow College, where he remained till 1702. On 23 March 1703–4 he was ordained by the presbytery of Armagh as minister of the united charges of Donacloney and Tullylish, and soon became one of the most prominent men on the orthodox side in the synod of Ulster. In 1720 he was elected its moderator. He is believed to have been the author of ‘New Light set in a Clear Light’ (pp. 22, Belfast, 1721), a very able pamphlet, published anonymously, which was intended as a reply to the ‘Religious Obedience founded on Personal Persuasion’ of John Abernethy (1680–1740) [q. v.], and Kirkpatrick's ‘Vindication of the Presbyterian Ministers in the North of Ireland.’ In 1724 was published ‘A Defence of the Principles and Conduct of the General Synod of Ulster’ (Belfast). It was a reply to Haliday's ‘Reasons against the Imposition of Subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith,’ and appears to have been the work of several hands, but Kennedy's name alone appears on the title-page. In 1727 he issued ‘A Daily Directory enlarged’ (Belfast), of which he was for a long time supposed to have been the author, but which is now believed to have been the work of Sir William Waller, the parliamentary general. It has been several times republished. ‘The Narrative of the Non-subscribers examined,’ Dublin, 1731, has also been attributed to Kennedy, but on insufficient evidence. A long correspondence between him and John Abernethy (1680–1740) [q. v.] is among Wodrow's papers in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. George Lang of Newry, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. He died on 8 July 1745, and was buried at Tullylish.

[Manuscript account of the Kennedy family in the possession of C. J. B. Kennedy, esq., Mullantean, Stewartstown; Witherow's Historical and Literary Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland; Reid's Hist. of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.]

T. H.