Archive: Kennedys and the English Connection; There Was Another Band of Kennedys, in Birmingham, Who, in a More Modest Way, Over-Achieved as Much as Their Bostonian Namesakes, Says Chris Upton

The Birmingham Post (England), May 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Archive: Kennedys and the English Connection; There Was Another Band of Kennedys, in Birmingham, Who, in a More Modest Way, Over-Achieved as Much as Their Bostonian Namesakes, Says Chris Upton


Byline: Chris Upton

You probably know more than enough about the Kennedys, that Irish-Catholic family which came to dominate American politics in the post-war period.

But there was another band of Kennedys who, in a more modest way, over-achieved as much as their Bostonian namesakes.

Their stomping-ground was not the state apartments of Washington, but the parish of St Paul's in the heart of Birmingham. As far as I know, the story of the Birmingham Kennedys has not been told. Perhaps it's time to put that right.

There is in fact an American connection between the two families. The Birmingham Kennedys originally hailed from Ayrshire, but in the early 18th century one branch of the family moved south to Shenstone, near Lichfield, where Benjamin Kennedy was born.

The latter became a surgeon and in 1773 took his wife and their young son across to Maryland, where Benjamin pioneered the use of inoculation in the States.

When Benjamin died in 1784 his widow and son, Rann Kennedy, returned to England and settled in the village of Withington outside Shrewsbury, on land inherited by his mother's family.

I imagine, though I don't know for certain, that Rann completed his education at Shrewsbury School and, like many of his peers, was then directed towards Cambridge, where he won a place at the pre-eminent college of the day, St John's. Here Rann Kennedy brushed shoulders and formed a lifetime friendship with the poet and writer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

After leaving Cambridge, Rann Kennedy came to Birmingham, where he managed to juggle the demands of two careers. He was first curate and then rector of St Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter and also second master at King Edward's Grammar School in New Street.

There was, indeed, a third career too, though an amateur one. Rann was a poet, dashing off large numbers of translations, into and out of Latin and Greek, as well as reflective English verses on contemporary politics, royal occasions, life, the universe and everything.

His ballad on the Wednesbury miner shows that new-found interest in folk song and the supernatural that Rann's friends Coleridge and Washington Irving did so much to encourage.

After 150 years of silence, we should at least allow the poet to speak for himself. One sonnet - View of a Manufacturing Town - seems to relate to Birmingham:A wilderness of brickwork chokes the plain: A murky twilight covers it with gloom, That lightnings could not clear nor suns illume: Smoke from enormous chimneys pours amain With flames that thro' the sooty darkness glare: Infernal engines ply their strength within, Redoubling stroke on stroke with iron din...But if all that sounds like a typical Romantic, rejecting the sound and fury of the city for a small cottage in the Lakes, Kennedy concludes the poem much more tolerantly than his fellows would have done:But would ye see of life a picture true, 'Tis here; in every motion, every sound, Man breathes and pants and labours all around.

That said, Rann Kennedy did eventually go into semi-rural retirement, taking a house at Fox Hollies. He died, however, in St Paul's Square, at the house of his son, in 1851. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Archive: Kennedys and the English Connection; There Was Another Band of Kennedys, in Birmingham, Who, in a More Modest Way, Over-Achieved as Much as Their Bostonian Namesakes, Says Chris Upton
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.