In Saxon and Norman times the Kenricks were Welsh princes ruling over Denbighshire, Flintshire and parts of Cheshire. They did not acknowledge the sovereignty of the Normans and Plantagenets until Edward I conquered North Wales and compelled Llewellyn to acknowledge him as his suzerain. Amongst the Harleian MSS.¹ in the British Museum is a genealogical tree tracing the Kenricks back to 200 years before the Norman conquest.
The earliest authentic record of the Wynn Hall branch of the Kenricks is found in the Denbighshire Roll for hearth-tax collected in the time of Charles II in which the name of "Edward John Kynrhicke" appears as having paid tax on two hearths in Gwersyllt in 1670, and in 1671 on two hearths in Walk Mill. He possessed also 2 houses in Hope St., Wrexham, one of which was afterwards known as the "Talbot Inn". In the barn belonging to "The Talbot" the independent congregation met regularly for worship from the accession of William III until 1672. Edward Kenrick's grandson, John, was a Presbyterian minister at Wrexham. The Denbighshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Devon and Yorkshire Kenricks were all Nonconformist, many of them also being Unitarians. The Chamberlain family with which they intermarried are Nonconformist, as were most of the Kenricks' business associates and friends in the Midlands and in Devon and Yorkshire.
The pedigree of the Wynne family, through which by marriage Wynn Hall came into possession of the Kenricks, goes far back into the misty past of North Wales. It begins with Llewellyn of the Golden Torque of Ystrad-Alyn who married Eve, daughter of Blethyn, son of Cynfyn, Prince of North Wales of the third Royal Tribe. Blethyn began to reign in 1064. A descendant of this marriage, William Wynne¹, born in 1615, married the heiress (name unknown) of lands near Ruabon, and there built in 1649 Wynn Hall, which from 1722 (when it was acquired by marriage) has to the present day been occupied by the Kenricks.
William Wynne was a captain in Cromwell's army, and like all Cromwell's officers carried a Bible buttoned inside his coat which by stopping a bullet (which penetrated as far as the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes) saved his life¹. This Bible was preserved at Wynn Hall for many years until stolen, when she was at school, from his grand-daughter, Sarah Hamilton² who married the Rev. John Kenrick of Wrexham.
The late owner of Wynn Hall, Capt. Hubert Wynn Kenrick, O.B.E., R.N.R., R.D., was a retired commander in the P.&.O. Company, and during the war was Merchantile Adviser to the Admiralty and Shipping Intelligence Officer for the Port of London. He died in March 1939 age 74. He was a direct descendant of John, the eldest son of the John who married Mary Quarrell.
All the Kenricks of the 18th. and early part of the 19th. century had retained the religious characteristics of Cromwell's Roundheads, and were fond of quoting the Bible frequently in their letters and attributing such misfortunes as sickness and death to the will of the Almighty.
They were a long-lived family in those days, the average age being about 75. Many members lived to well into the 80's, some into the 90's and one attained the age of 97. They had large families, eight children being the average. Several had 9, others 10, and more than one a full dozen
Until the emigration from Denbighshire and Shropshire to the Midlands about the middle of the 18th. century the Kenricks were mainly occupied in farming their estates or being Presbyterian ministers. Manufacturing began under Archibald Kenrick Senior at West Bromich (sic). He was apprenticed as a youth to an iron merchant in Birmingham. He founded the business of "Archibald Kenrick & Sons Ltd." of West Bromwich, manufacturers of hollow-ware (kitchen utensils etc.) and the originators of enamelled ware.
Some took up land in America in the 17th. and 18th. centuries, and a Wynn Hall Kenrick died in Jamaica in 1801¹. I have met in London a Kenrick whose parents hailed from Denbighshire, and had settled in Vancouver in about 1870². They have travelled far afield, to America, India, Australia and New Zealand, my wife when a girl having sometimes stayed with a Cyfyn Kenrick³ who came from North Wales and had a sheep station in the province of Canterbury.
A John Kenrick of York settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1639, and his eldest son, John, built in 1688 at Newton, a suburb of Boston, a fine mansion which at the present day is inhabited by Kenricks. A descendant of his, Anna Kenrick, was the mother of Franklin Pierce who was President of the United States from 1854 to 1856. The Kenricks, therefore, can claim through the female line a President of the U.S.A. as well as a Prime Minister of Great Britain, a thing for the family to be proud of.
Here are a few notes on some members of the family who have had distinguished careers.
In Henry VIII's reign a Kenrick married a niece¹ of Archbishop Cranmer.
Sir John Kenrick¹ who was Lord Mayor of London (1651-1652) during the Commonwealth belonged to the Denbighshire Kenricks and was a very wealthy City merchant and a great admirer of Cromwell. He married Catherine Evelyn, a cousin of John Evelyn, the diarist, who refers to him in his diary as Alderman Kenrick. he died in 1660, leaving a large sum of money and much valuable landed property in both England and Ireland to his son John on condition he settled in Ireland and cultivated his estate there.
Samuel Kenrick (1728-1811) 3rd. son of the Rev. John Kenrick and Sarah Hamilton, was a distinguished scholar who took his M.A. degree at Glasgow in 1747 and witnessed the entrance into that town of the Young Pretender in 1745. He travelled from 1760 to 1765 with two pupils on the Continent, getting as far as Venice and Rome., and visiting in Switzerland Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. He was sufficiently fluent in Italian as to be able to translate English works successfully unto that language. He always carried in his pocket a Greek testament and was interested in comparing the original with the Latin, Italian, French and English versions. When in Italy he purchased many rare and valuable books. Later he settled at Bewdley in Worcestershire and carried on a banking business in connection with Messrs. Thos, Coutts & Co. While abroad he wrote his brother John a very interesting account of his travels on the Continent.
The Rev. John Kenrick of York (1787-1877), son of Timothy K. of Exeter who was a brother of Archibald senior, was a distinguished scholar and keenly interested in archaeology, as is shown by his writings on Egypt and Phoenicia and by the care he gave to the department of antiquities in the York Museum. He studied at Glasgow, Gottingen and Berlin, and was a tutor in Classics and Ancient & Modern History at the Manchester New College, York. He was considered the greatest Nonconformist scholar of his day. He died aged 89.
Archibald Kenrick (1760-1835) and his eldest son Archibald in May 1816 (the year after Waterloo) travelled leisurely through France to Switzerland, and returned to England by the valley of the Rhine, and in letters to his wife gave a graphic account of his tour and comments both on places visited and the agricultural features of the countries through which he passed.
Sir George Hamilton Kenrick who died in June 1939 at the age of 89 gave £25,000 towards the building of Birmingham University, and another £18,000 for a chair in Physics, and erected the West Bromwich School of Art at a cost of £26,000. He was twice Lord Mayor of Birmingham, and was knighted in 1909 by King Edward.
The Rt. Hon. William Kenrick, P.C., (1831-1919) was the son of Archibald junior of West Bwomwich (sic), and married in 1862 mary, Joe Chamberlain's sister, and Chamberlain married his sister Harriet. In 1903 I made a voyage to the Mediterranean & Black Sea with him¹ and his wife, to whom he introduced me as his cousin, explaining that we were both descended from the Wynn Hall K's.
George Henry Blair Kenrick, K.C., L.L.D., son of George Kenrick of Nant Clwyd Hall, Denbighshire, was educated at Cheltenham College and the London University, and was for some years Advocate-General in Bombay, and is still a member of the Legislative Council of the Viceroy of India.
The Pagets, from whom Austen and Neville Chamberlain are descended through their maternal grandmothers, are of Huguenot origin, and can be traced back to 1580, when Valerian Pagett was buried at Ibstock in Leicestershire.
The Hamiltons can be traced back to 1553¹. The Rev. Archibald Hamilton, father of Sarah who married the Rev. John Kenrick of Wrexham in 1722, was Presbyterian Minister of Corstorphine, Edinburgh in 1693. His daughter Sarah inherited Wynn Hall from her uncle John Wynne (Son of Capt Wm. Wynne, one of Cromwell's Ironsides) who died childless in 1719, leaving his Ruabon property to her. Her mother was Sarah Wynne, daughter of the Captain.
John (1753-1823), eldest son of John K. and Marry Quarrell, was a cheese-factor in a very large way of business at Whitchurch, Salop, and being much in debt by some of his customers, went to America in 1794 (to escape his creditors) in company with his sister Sarah and her husband Ralph Eddowes. The voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia took 93 days (Aug,1st. to Nov.1st.) When his affairs in Whitchurch were settled he returned home early in 1797 at a time when England and France were at war. To avoid the risk of capture by French privateers, he had become a naturalised American shortly before sailing for England. Much of his Shropshire property was surrendered to his creditors much to the annoyance of his wife, Sarah Savage, a Londoner. They had 12 children. His first 3 sons pre-deceased him, and he was succeeded by his 4th. son William. I saw his 5th. daughter, Lydia, in her coffin at Rhyl in Feb.1875. She lived to the age of 86, and was unmarried.
My great-grandfather James (1757-1824) was induced by his nephews in Birmingham and Exeter to leave all his property in Denbighshire and Shropshire to his nephews and nieces in those towns, with the result that my grandfather John got nothing but the bank in Hope St., Wrexham. Both James and his wife, Eleanor¹, (a cousin of James) treated their son, who was an only child, very badly during their lifetime. During infancy he was sent to live with a neighbouring farmer and his wife, and did not return to Wrexham till his twelfth year.
Abraham Champion of Bristol, the father-in-law of Mrs Champion¹ of Clifton, married the grand-daughter of Timothy of Exeter, who was the brother of Archibald, the grandfather of Harriet, the 1st. Mrs Chamberlain, so that her husband stood in the same relationship to Austen and Neville as your father and myself, namely first cousin twice removed.
© Graeme Wall 2004