Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kenrick, John
KENRICK, JOHN (1788–1877), classical scholar and historian, was eldest son of Timothy Kenrick [q. v.], by his first wife, Mary, whose maiden name was Waymouth. He was born at Exeter on 4 Feb. 1788. In 1793, the year of his mother's death, he began his education under Charles Lloyd, LL.D. [q. v.], and made such progress that in his twelfth year he was admitted (1799) to the Exeter academy as a student for the ministry under his father and Joseph Bretland [q. v.] Thomas Foster Barham (1766–1844) [q. v.] taught him German. His first experience in teaching was as locum tenens for James Hews Bransby [q. v.] at Moreton Hampstead, Devonshire, in November 1804, when he had Sir John Bowring [q. v.] as a pupil. On the dissolution of the Exeter academy (25 March 1805) he continued his theological studies under John Kentish [q. v.], in whose house at Birmingham he was a pupil from June 1805 till 1807, when he entered at Glasgow University on an exhibition from the Dr. Daniel Williams trust. Sir Benjamin Heywood [q. v.] was his fellow-lodger during his second and third years at Glasgow. The long vacations gave him time for pedestrian tours in the western highlands. He obtained distinctions in logic, classics, and physical science, and gained the Gartmore gold medal for an essay on the English constitution during the Tudor period; he graduated M.A. on 1 May 1810.
On leaving Glasgow he accepted a tutorship in classics, history, and literature at the Manchester College, York (now Manchester New College, Oxford), under Charles Wellbeloved [q. v.] After a summer spent in preaching in Exeter and the neighbourhood, he settled in York, and at once made his mark as a scholar and disciplinarian. The duties devolving on a resident tutor rendered his position anxious and irksome. He twice tendered his resignation (1811 and 1817), but in July 1817 he was relieved of all residential responsibility, and granted a year's absence for study in Germany. He was accompanied abroad by the theological tutor's second son, John Wellbeloved, who died at Homburg. During the winter semester he studied history at Göttingen under Heeren, attending also the lectures of Eichhorn and Blumenbach; the following summer semester he devoted to classical study at Berlin under F. A. Wolf, Boeckh, and Zumpt, and attended Schleiermacher's course of philosophy. He had valuable introductions, including one to the Duke of Cumberland, then residing at Berlin, of which, however, he was unwilling to avail himself. After a tour in southern Germany and Switzerland he returned to York in September 1820.
In 1825 Thomas Belsham [q. v.], brother of his stepmother, endeavoured to secure him as assistant at Essex Street Chapel, London; but Kenrick had now fixed himself in academic life, and though an able exponent of his own theological position, had none of the gifts of a popular preacher. He remained in office as tutor at York till 1840, his place being supplied by assistant-tutors during his absence from ill-health in the two sessions 1837–9. In 1840, when the college reverted from York to Manchester, and took the name of Manchester New College, he became professor of history, and held this chair till 1850; he continued to reside in York, going to Manchester to deliver his lectures. In 1851 he was appointed one of the visitors of the college, a post which he retained until his death.
Kenrick was, beyond question, the greatest scholar of his denomination, the equal of Eliezer Cogan [q. v.] in erudition, and his superior in culture. His philological publications belong to the period following upon his studies in Germany; his historical works to his later years of increased leisure. Dr. Martineau, who has spoken of Kenrick as ‘the wisest man he ever knew,’ describes his historical lectures as ‘models of selection, compression, and proportion,’ and regards his volume on ‘Phœnicia’ as his most permanent contribution to history. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, one of the founders of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, and curator of the department of antiquities in its museum; the Cook collection in the hospitium was his gift, as also the cast of the obelisk of Nimrod in the entrance hall of the museum. His theology, while essentially that of the older unitarian school, was modified in its conservatism both by his critical judgments and by the simplicity of his religious trust. In private intercourse his courteous dignity, sparing and accurate speech, and incisive humour left a strong impression of reserve of power and force of character. In person he was of middle height, with a light but well-knit frame, and a noble forehead.
He died at York on 7 May 1877, having preserved his faculties to the great age of eighty-nine. He was buried on 12 May in the York cemetery; his funeral sermon was preached by Charles Wicksteed. His portrait has been engraved. He married, on 13 Aug. 1821, Lætitia (d. 27 Sept. 1879, aged 84), eldest daughter of Charles Wellbeloved, his colleague, but had no issue.
He published, besides seven single sermons (1814–36), including a sermon (7 June 1827) before the British and Foreign Unitarian Association: 1. ‘A Grammar of the Latin Language, by C. G. Zumpt. Translated … with Additions,’ &c., 1823, 8vo; 4th edit. 1836, 8vo. 2. ‘Exercises of Latin Syntax,’ &c., 3rd edit. 1835, 12mo (also ‘Key’ to this). 3. ‘An Introduction to Greek Prose Composition,’ &c., pt. i. 2nd edit. 1836, 12mo; pt. ii. 1835, 12mo (also ‘Keys’ to both parts). 4. ‘Ἡροδότου ὁι Aἰγύπτοι Λόγοι. The Egypt of Herodotus,’ &c., 1841, 8vo. 5. ‘An Essay on Primæval History,’ &c., 1846, 12mo. 6. ‘Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs,’ &c., 1850, 8vo, 2 vols. 7. ‘The Value of the Holy Scriptures,’ &c., 1851, 12mo. 8. ‘Memoir of John Kentish,’ prefixed to ‘Sermons,’ 1854, 12mo. 9. ‘Phœnicia,’ &c., 1855, 8vo. 10. ‘Biographical Memoir of Charles Wellbeloved,’ &c., 1860, 8vo (reprinted from the ‘Christian Reformer’). 11. ‘Biblical Essays,’ &c., 1864, 12mo (reprinted from periodicals, the most important being ‘On the Gospel of Mark,’ regarded as the protevangelion). 12. ‘Papers on Archæology and History,’ &c., 1864, 12mo. 13. ‘Memorials of the Presbyterian Chapel, St. Saviourgate, York,’ &c., York, 1869, 8vo (originally contributed to the ‘Unitarian Herald’ in 1862). In 1832 he edited for Bishop Blomfield the fifth edition of the translation of Matthiae's ‘Greek Grammar,’ by Edward Valentine Blomfield [q. v.], the bishop's younger brother; and published separately (1833) an ‘Index of Quotations from Greek Authors’ contained in it. His inaugural lecture in the chair of history is in the ‘Introductory Discourses … in Manchester New College,’ &c., 1841, 8vo. He contributed biographical and critical articles to the ‘Monthly Repository,’ ‘Christian Reformer,’ ‘Prospective Review,’ and other periodicals.