KENYON, Lloyd (1732-1802), of Gredington Hall, Flints.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1780 - 1784
1784 - 9 June 1788

Family and Education

b. 5 Oct. 1732, 1st surv. s. of Lloyd Kenyon of Gredington Hall by Jane, da. and coh. of Robert Eddowes of Eagle Hall, Cheshire.  educ. Ruthin g.s.; M. Temple 1750, called 1756.  m. 16 Oct. 1773, his cos. Mary, da. of George Kenyon of Peel Hall, Lancs., 3s.  suc. fa. 30 Sept. 1773; cr.Bt. 28 July 1784; Lord Kenyon 9 June 1788.

Offices Held

K.C. 1780; c.j. Chester 1780-4; attorney-gen. Mar. 1782-Apr. 1783, Dec. 1783-Mar. 1784; master of the rolls Mar. 1784-June 1788; P.C. 2 Apr. 1784; c.j. of King’s bench June 1788- d.


As a young barrister Kenyon ‘devilled’ for Thurlow, whose friendship was an important factor in his early career. Twice Thurlow offered to raise him to the bench: in 1778 to the King’s bench; and in 1780 to the common pleas. In April 1780 he was made a K.C.; and in July Thurlow carried his appointment as chief justice of Chester against a candidate favoured by North.1 Kenyon was also a close friend of John Dunning, one of the leading Opposition lawyers; and thus had good connexions on both sides of the House of Commons.

His first attempt to enter Parliament was in 1774 when he came forward as a candidate for Flint on the expected retirement of Sir John Glynne; he withdrew when Glynne decided to continue in Parliament. In 1780 he applied to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn for his interest in Merioneth, but again withdrew. At the general election of 1780 he obtained a seat at Hindon through the influence of Thurlow, who during the minority of William Beckford controlled the Beckford interest.

Kenyon’s first vote in the House, 31 Oct. 1780, was given for the Opposition candidate for Speaker, Sir Fletcher Norton. But there is no evidence that he voted regularly with the Opposition. Robinson in his parliamentary list of 14 Feb. 1781 classed him as ‘hopeful’, and on 25 Nov. he attended the eve-of-session meeting of Government men of business. His two reported speeches before the fall of North were on minor matters, and throw no light on his general political conduct. It seems clear that he did not go into opposition until after the news of Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown.

On 12 Dec. 1781 he voted for Lowther’s motion to end the war; on 20 Feb. 1782 for Fox’s motion of censure on the Admiralty; and on 22 Feb. for Conway’s motion against the war. When Conway repeated his motion on 27 Feb., Kenyon absented himself ‘in deference to the opinion of my lord chancellor, who raised doubts in my mind’.2 But on 8 Mar. he voted for Lord John Cavendish’s motion of censure. On 15 Mar., when Rous moved his no-confidence motion, Kenyon was absent on circuit.

When the Rockingham Administration was being formed, Shelburne offered Kenyon the post of attorney-general; and, after consulting Thurlow, Kenyon accepted. During this Administration the two questions in which he took most interest, judged by the frequency of his speeches, were the prosecution of Sir Thomas Rumbold and the reform of the pay office—both of a legal or quasi-legal character. He had no close contact with ministers, apart from Thurlow and Shelburne; and concentrated on the legal, rather than the political, aspects of his office. He remained in office under Shelburne, and spoke in defence of the peace preliminaries on 21 Feb. 1783. He declined Shelburne’s offer of the rolls, made when Sir Thomas Sewell was believed to be dying. When the Coalition took office he lost his post as attorney-general.

On 7 May 1783 he voted for Pitt’s motion for parliamentary reform. On 24 Nov. he attended a meeting of Pitt’s friends to consider Fox’s East India bill, and on 27 Nov. voted against the second reading. When Pitt took office Kenyon was invited to resume his old place.

Mr. Kenyon told Mr. Pitt [Mrs. Kenyon wrote to her sister on 24 Dec.3] he would much rather not accept the place, would support his Administration as steadily out of office as in, and should not think himself neglected if he was left where he was. Mr. Pitt said it was impossible to go on without him. Everybody says he must have it, but neither Mr. Kenyon nor I like such popping in and out every month, nor this place at any rate. I am afraid, too, it will drive us to the rolls ... nor would Mr. Kenyon accept that place but to escape from the attorney-general’s.

Still, two days later Kenyon accepted; and on Sewell’s death in March 1784, yielding to the advice of Thurlow and Shelburne, became master of the rolls.

In February he had arranged with Lord Falmouth for a seat at Tregony at the general election, probably expecting that Beckford would wish to stand at Hindon. In the Parliament of 1784, 24 speeches by Kenyon are recorded; nine on the Westminster scrutiny, nine on Hastings’s impeachment, three on the ecclesiastical courts bill, two on the proposed impeachment of Impey, and one on the shop tax of 1788. All are of a legal character.

Keynon died 4 Apr. 1802.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Fortescue, v. 105.
  • 2. Kenyon’s diary, in the possession of Lord Kenyon, ex. inf. Colin Shone.
  • 3. Kenyon mss.