Henry William Gordon Kenrick does not appear in any directory of botanists but with 676 specimens of British plants, covering the period 1889 to 1939, he is one of the largest individual collectors to be represented in the Hull University Herbarium (HLU). He also made a collection of plants from the Nilgiris in 1886-7, which was originally held in Hull but is now in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (E). He was a hobby, rather than academic, botanist but the six decade period covered by his collection clearly demonstrates a life-long interest in plants and the fact that he still considered it worth-while to preserve specimens from his garden when in his late 70s shows the pleasure that they must have afforded him throughout his life.
He was born in Ootacamund, India, the only son and eldest child of John Henry and Mary Eunice Kenrick, athough his father already had two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage. His three younger sisters, Florence Amelia Mary, Alice Maude Eunice and Mabel Lucy, were eventually to be married to clergymen, of various denominations, and seem to have become involved, like their maternal grandfather, in missionary work. His early education was at the Bishop Cotton College in Bangalore from which he continued to take an extenal MA degree at Madras, by which time he was the headmaster of the Breek' Memorial School.
He appears to have arrived in England around 1888 and, after spending some time at the London College of Divinity, he moved to the York Diocese where he was ordained as a deacon in 1889 and as a priest in late 1889. By coincidence(?), his first appointment as a curate in Britain was at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hull, and it is from this vice-county that his earliest plant in HLU was collected - a specimen of Potentilla anserina from Bridlington in June 1889. His stay in Hull was short 1888 - 1890 and he moved on to curacies in Cambridge, St Andrew-the-Less in 1891 and St Mary-the-Great 1892-3 (Venn 1954). He was awarded a BA from Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1893 after which he spent the rest of his ministry in London. The botanical record of his Cambridge days only amounts to a hand-full of specimens including four from the River Cam in August 1891.
His first London appointment was to St Saviour's, Pimlico in 1893. A specimen of Persicaria maculosa collected from his "windowbox, 91B Grosvenor Road" in June 1894 may be from his lodging place. In August of 1894 he spent time botanising in South Hampshire (v.c.11), collecting seven specimens from King's Sombourne. The reason for this visit must relate to the recent death of Rev. George David William Dickson (1822 - 1894), vicar of this parish, who's eldest daughter Kenrick was soon to marry.
Early in 1895 Kenrick married Agnes Eliza Georgina Fox, the young widow of solicitor Thomas Merritt Fox who had died in May 1892. Although little is yet known of the circumstances of Kenrick's earlier life, Agnes's family is better known and gives some insight to the social circles in which he was moving. Agnes was born in late 1861, the eldest child of the Rev George Dickson and his wife Eliza Bennett Dickson, née Hunt. Rev Dickson himself was the son of Sir David James Hamilton Dickson and was for many years the vicar of St James the Less, Westminster. Sir David Dickson was an eminent Naval surgeon, eventually becoming the Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Agnes's mother's family were no less prominent, Eliza Bennett being the daughter of the eminent surveyor Sir Henry Arthur Hunt and Eliza Susannah (née Bennett?). Fashionable London houses and a retinue of staff seem to have been the norm.
In 1905 he became the vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton and moved to the vicarage in Shepherdess Walk, where he was to live for the next 32 years. In 1908 the first edition of the English Missal was published by Knott & Co., London and although his name does not appear in any of the editions, Kenrick is generally regarded as the author/compiler (Venn, Stephenson). Kenrick was a prominent Anglo-catholic - a "High Church" man - and his preachings were, to some, controversial. An unverified source suggests that the Tridentine Mass could be heard in Hoxton well into the 1930s. In 1928 Fr. Kenrick was also appointed as the Rural Dean of Shoreditch.
Henry Kenrick was associated with the shrine at Walsingham and in 1935 he organised and led the first formal group walking pilgrimage to the shrine; he was also closely involved with the Sion College. Reports in The Times show that he was elected as Assistant to the Dean in 1931, Joint Dean in 1932 and by 1934 he was the College President. In 1935 both Kenrick and his wife were present at the funeral of Prebendary George Henry Perry, he as President of Sion College. In 1940 they were both present at the funeral of Mr Percy George Gales - Rev Kenrick "assisting".
On his retirement in 1937 he made his final move to 2, Highgate Avenue N.6. Five specimens from his garden at Highgate are preserved in HLU. A recently-discovered slip of paper in the Hull University herbarium records that his plant collections were presented (to the University?) by his executors on 12 May 1944.
Stephenson, C. 1972. Merrily on High. Darton, Longman & Todd. London.
Venn, J. A., 1954. Alumni Cantabrigiensis. Cambridge University Press, London.