Kenyon-Slaney, William Slaney (DNB12)

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KENYON-SLANEY, WILLIAM SLANEY (1847–1908), colonel and politician, born on 24 Aug. 1847 at Rajcot in India, where his father was serving in the East India Company's army, was eldest son of William Kenyon, a captain in the second regiment of the Bombay light cavalry. Lloyd, first Lord Kenyon [q. v.], was his great-grandfather. His mother was Frances Catharine, daughter and co-heiress of Robert Aglionby Slaney [q. v.] of Hatton Grange, Shropshire, on whose death in 1862 the family assumed by royal licence the additional surname of Slaney.

Kenyon-Slaney entered Eton in Sept. 1860, and becoming an inmate of William Evans's house he proved himself a fair scholar and an enthusiastic footballer and cricketer ; he played in the school eleven at football in 1864 and 1865. Through life he was a good all-round sportsman ; he did much to popularise Association football, playing for England in the International Association match against Scotland on 8 March 1873, and for the Old Etonians in the final for the Association Cup in 1876.

Kenyon-Slaney left Eton in Dec. 1865, having already (13 Oct. 1865) matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he only resided a year (1866-7). Destined for the army, he was gazetted on 20 Nov. 1867, and joined the 3rd battalion of the Grenadier guards at Dublin, becoming on 10 July 1870 lieutenant (and captain) without purchase, on 8 Sept. 1878 captain (and lieutenant-colonel), on 21 July 1883 major, and on 21 July 1887 colonel of the regiment. In 1882 his battalion formed part of a brigade of guards in the Egyptian war, and he was present at the action of Mahuta and at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir (13 Sept. 1882), for which he received the medal with clasp and the Khedive's bronze star. On 23 Nov. 1887 he was placed on half-pay, retiring from the army in 1892.

A conservative in politics, Kenyon-Slaney failed in his first candidature for parliament at the general election in 1885, when he contested the Wellington division of Shropshire, but he was returned at the general election in 1886 for the Newport division, and sat for that constituency till his death, being re-elected after a contest in 1892 and 1906 and without a contest in 1895 and 1900. In his maiden speech in committee of supply on 8 Sept. 1886 he urged the war office to provide a recreation ground for the garrison of the metropolis. In Nov. 1890 he moved the address in reply to the Queen's speech, confining himself for the first time to a single sentence of thanks. He spoke frequently in the house on agriculture, the army, Ireland, the death duties, and pure beer, on which topic he introduced a bill. As a platform orator through the country he stood in the first rank. He was an ardent tariff reformer.

Although Kenyon-Slaney took no keen interest in education, he is chiefly remembered as the author of 'the Kenyon-Slaney clause' in Mr. Balfour's Education Act of 1902. This clause provides that the religious instruction given in non -provided schools shall be under the control of the whole body of managers and not of the foundation managers or of any individual clergyman. It was carried in committee, on 7 Aug. 1902, by 211 to 41, and although it raised a storm in ecclesiastical circles, it worked well. In Nov. 1902 he declined the offer of a baronetcy, but in 1904 became a privy councillor.

A model landlord, who saw that every cottage on his estate had at least three bedrooms, proper drainage, and a good water supply, Kenyon-Slaney was involved in 1904 in an acute controversy with one of his tenant-farmers, Mr. Frederic Home, whose activities as a radical politician seemed to Kenyon-Slaney to be incompatible with personal superintendence of his farm and with their mutual good relations. Mr. Home gave up his farm, and his political friends represented him through Shropshire as a martyr to Kenyon-Slaney' s political zeal. In 1895 Kenyon-Slaney was prominent in Shropshire, the first county to take the matter up, in inaugurating the movement for relief of naval and military veterans which was merged in 1902 in the Imperial Service Fund. Kenyon-Slaney died at Hatton Grange on 24 April 1908, and was buried in the churchyard of Ryton near Shifnal. He married at Weston, on 22 Feb. 1887, Lady Mabel Selina Bridgeman, elder daughter of the third earl of Bradford, by whom he had a son and a daughter.

Portraits of himself and his wife, painted by Mr. Mark Milbanke, were at his death ready for presentation to him by his constituents in celebration of his twenty-one years' service in the House of Commons.

[Memoir of Colonel William Kenyon-Slaney, M.P., edited by Walter Durnford, 1909; The Times, 25 and 30 April 1908 ; Shrewsbury Chronicle, 1 May 1908 ; Newport Advertiser, 26 April 1908 ; Eton School Lists ; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses ; Army Lists ; Burke's Peerage and Landed Gentry ; private information.]

W. G. D. F.