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Kenrick, Rev. Henry William Gordon (1862 - 1943)


Biographical notes

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.

1862 October 30 : Birth The Ootacamund registers show the birth date of Henry William Gordon, son of John Henry and Mary Eunice Kenrick, who was baptised on February 4 the following year.
1885 : MA Madras The Madras Mail : 1885 March 9
 MADRAS NEWS - BREEKS' MEMORIAL SCHOOL, OOTACAMUND. A correspondent writes from Ootacamund: "Great joy among the teachers and boys of this institution this morning, Friday, the 6th instant, to learn that Mr. W.H.G.Kenrick, B.A., the present Head Master, has passed his M.A. Degree Examination (Branch 1) in the second class. It is a great credit to this school in being presided over by this able, young and intelligent gentleman, who has been invariably crowned with success in all University examinations - from Matriculation to Master of Arts, in private study. The boys had a half-holiday today in honour of their Head Master's success. This school has produced very fair results this year in the several Government and school examinations.
[This transcription appeared on the A T W Penn website authored by Tristram Collins]
1886 : Nilgiris Kenrick made a collection of plants from the Nilgiris 1886/7, now held in Edinburgh (E).
1888 : Arrival in England Although the exact date of his arrival from India has not yet been determined, this or the previous year, seem to be the most likely time.
1889 December 9 : Hull Holy Trinity 1Hull Daily Mail:
 "HOLY TRINITY YOUNG MEN'S SOCIETY. - This society met as usual on Friday evening last at the Clergy House, the Rev W. H. Kenrick in the chair. After the Scripture subject by Mr Dugwell on "The Armour of God," Dr Pigeon gave a lecture on "Some Distinctive Peculiarities of the Human Frame." A hearty vote of thanks was duly accorded Dr Pigeon."
1890 : Rhein The Hull University herbarium has a collection of 31 plants collected from the area around Karlsbad,Drachenfels,St Goar, etc.
1893 December 14 : BA 1Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser : 1893 December 15 -
 UNIVERSITY INTELLIGENCE. CAMBRIDGE. The last congregation for the present term was held yesterday at the Senate House, the Vice-chancellor, the Rev. Austin Leigh, presiding. After the graces had been passed, the undermentioned degrees were conferred : - ... BATCHELORS OF ARTS. - ... , H.W.G. Kenrick, ... Trinity Hall; ..."
1895 January 17 : Marriage 1The Morning Post : 1895 January 11 -
 "A marriage has been arranged, and will take place on Thursday, the 17th inst., at half-past two, at St. Saviour's Church, Pimlico, between the Rev. H. W. G. Kenrick, senior assistant priest of St. Saviour's, son of Mr. J. H. Kenrick, late of the Madras Civil Service, and Agnes, widow of the late Thomas Merritt Fox, and daughter of the late Rev. G. D. W. Dickson, vicar of King Somborne, Hants, and the first vicar of St. James the Less, Westminster."
1895 September : Lake Como He made a visit to Lugano, Bellagio and Cadenabbia. Eight "souvenir" specimens held in HLU.
1901 : Rome Six souvenir specimens from "Domine quo vadis?" church, Appian Way, Romulus' grave, etc.
1905 : Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton 1Hackney Express and Shoreditch Observer : 1905 October 7 -
 Holy Trinity Church Hoxton INSTITUTION OF THE NEW VICAR On Tuesday at Holy Trinity Church, Hoxton, the institution of the new vicar was carried out by the Bishop of Stepney. The church was filled with parishioners and others who evinced much interest in the occasion. The usual form of service was gone through, which found its culmination in the declaration of the deed of institution made by the Bishop. The chief point in the declaration was: "I admit you (Henry William Gordon Kenrick, M.A.) to the new vicarage of the parish church of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, vacant by the cession of Jacob Cartmel Robinson, clerk, the last incumbent there."
... It may be added that the Rev. H.W.G. Kenrick is a well-built middle aged man who has already commended himself to the parishioners. His record is one of considerable usefulness, and it is highly probable that he will find ample opportunity for the extension and development of many activities in Hoxton. Mr Kenrick has been eight years vicar of St John's, Hammersmith, having previously served at Trinity Hall Cambridge, where he was also trained. After the institutional service on Tuesday, a reception was held in the schools, and on Wednesday next the venerable Dr. Sinclair will induct the new vicar at Holy Trinity Church.
1908 : Publication Although publishes anonymously, The English Missal, published by Knott & co. is generally accepted as being the work of Henry Kenrick.
1926 October 30 :
Adam & Eve
Letter to the Spectator
" ... Personally I believe that Adam and Eve were the two first immortal ape-men. But it does not matter. The difficulty of locating the when does not affect the how. The same difficulty occurs earlier in the evolutionary process. At some moment lifeless matter became living. We cannot say when or how ; but is that an argument for saying there is no living matter now ? I am, Sir, &c."
1932 November : Family reunion 1Chelmsford Chronicle : 1932 November 25
 UNIQUE RE-UNION. A few days ago a rather unique gathering was held in Holy Trinity Vicarage, Hoxton. It was the 70th birthday of the Vicar, the Rev. H. W. G. Kenrick. M.A. (Rural Dean of Shoreditch) and he and his three sisters - Mrs Grant, wife of the Rev. E. A. K, Grant, B.A. LL.D., of the Presbyterian Church of Canada; Mrs Atkins, widow of the Rev. F. R. Atkins, Methodist Church; and Mrs Preston, wife of the Rev. S. J. Preston, Congregational Church, Chignal - all met for the first time for 45 years. During that time they have been separated, one being in India, another in Canada and U.S.A.
1935 June : Pilgrimage 1Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette : 1935.6.19
 NO PLANS FOR EATING! - "Holy Hikers" 120-Mile Journey With the ancient shrine of Walsingham, Norfolk, as their goal a party of pilgrims will leave London in August, and will walk 120 miles across East Anglia. Like the pilgrims in the Middle Ages they will make no plans for eating or sleeping. Those who join the party will undertake to accept whatever befalls them. Already they have been dubbed the "holy hikers." The organizer and leader of the pilgrimage is the Rev H. W. G. Kenrick, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Hoxton, London. When he appealed for volunteers he wrote: "We shall walk the whole 120 miles. There will be no arrangements. We shall eat what we can get, and sleep where we can find shelter." Today Father Kendrick(sic) told a "Sunderland Echo" representative that 20 persons had promised to join the pilgrimage. They include a group of undergraduates from Oxford, several clergymen, and four young women. The pilgrims will open their adventure with a mass at Holy Trinity Church and it is hoped that a bishop will be there to bless them. Each day mass will be celebrated at one of the village churches on their long route. When they reach Walsingham they will spend a day in devotions at the shrine. "REAL ADVENTURE" "We have not decided whether we shall walk back," Father Kenrick said today...
1941 April 5 : Death of wife His wife Agnes died suddenly and after a Requiem Mass at St Augustine's, Highgate, was buried at Finchley.
1943 January 5 : Death Henry Kenrick died at his home in Highgate. Probate was granted to Herbert Box, schoolmaster, and Percy Edward John Johnson, solicitor on March 7 the following year.
1943 January 9 : Burial Rev Henry William Gordon Kenrick was buried in St Pancras Cemetery, Finchley

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton; last updated 2016 April 1


1862 Ootacamund, India
1888 London College of Divinity.
1889 Holy Trinity, Hull
1891 St Andrew-the Less, Cambridge
1892 St Mary-the-Great, Cambridge
1893 91B Grosvenor Road, Pimlico
1894 (about) The Grove, South Hammersmith
1905 Holy Trinity, Shepherdess Walk, Hoxton
1937 2 Highgate Avenue, London N6

Additional links

Annotated family trees of the Kenrick and Dickson families. link
Biographical information from the Hull University Herbarium website. link
Chronologically arranged list of his British Material in HLU. link
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