KENRICK, William (1774-1829), of Broome, Betchworth, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - Oct. 1814

Family and Education

b. 21 Jan. 1774, 1st s. of Rev. Jarvis Kenrick, DD, vicar of Chilham, Kent by Dorothy, da. of William Seward. educ. Canterbury; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1790; M. Temple 1792, called 1800. m. 14 Dec. 1812, Frances Ann, da. and coh. of Robert Mascall of Peasmarsh Place, Suss., 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1809.

Offices Held

Master of the King’s household June 1810-12; second justice of N. Wales circuit 1812-d.


Kenrick’s father, a younger brother of John Kenrick, who became parliamentary patron of Bletchingley in 1799 on the death of their cousin Sir Robert Clayton*, himself succeeded to the patronage in 1803. Kenrick, an equity draftsman and barrister practising on the home circuit and at Surrey sessions, was returned for the borough at the next election by his father, becoming patron himself on the latter’s death, 7 May 1809.1

Kenrick, who was listed ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade, first drew attention to himself in the House, 3 Feb. 1807, when he presented a Church of Scotland petition on the subject of the Scottish clergy bill; and on 11 Mar. he moved for information on cases in the Scottish court of exchequer. On 18 Mar. he obtained leave to attend the Kingston assizes. He next spoke on 9 Feb. 1809 to vouch for the insanity of a witness at the bar on the Duke of York’s conduct. He rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, on the Scheldt question, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 30 Mar., and voted against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and against parliamentary reform, 21 May. On 5 June he favoured the reference of the petition affecting Viscount Dursley* to the committee of privileges. His obtaining a lucrative place in the Household that month was attributed to his placing his own and his guests’ votes at the disposal of the government.2 The Whigs had listed him ‘Government’ earlier that session.

He further supported ministers on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and was named for the conference with the Lords on the Regency bill, 4 Feb. He voted against Whitbread’s motion of 25 Feb. aimed at Lord Chancellor Eldon. Romilly commented that Kenrick ‘used indeed to attend the court [of Chancery] but had no business, and now seldom attends’, but added that he voted ‘on all occasions’ with ministers. He certainly did so on the question of sinecure reform, 7, 21, 24 Feb. and 4 May 1812. On 28 Jan. 1812 he denied abuses by servants of the royal household. Next day he opposed insistence on scrutiny of the qualifications of stipendiary magistrates. He moved an instruction to the committee on the penitentiary bill that felons without benefit of clergy should be kept to hard labour. He opposed further investigation of delays in the court of Chancery, 16 Apr.3 On 2 June he was a spokesman for the Surrey magistrates. On 26 June Thomas Creevey, supported by Whitbread, asked him if he was about to be appointed a Welsh judge, as, if so, he would censure it, because ‘the office of judge should not be a matter of political favour’. Kenrick denied that he had been appointed, but he was soon afterwards, resigning his other place.

Kenrick was listed a Treasury supporter after the election of 1812. He had opposed Catholic relief on 22 June 1812 and did so throughout in 1813, going his Welsh circuit in the interval. That session, apart from being of the civil list committee, he took charge of Lord Redesdale’s insolvent debtors bill in the House. According to Romilly he had ‘no friendly disposition towards it’ and ‘added several clauses in the committee, of which the most important were, one to punish with death all insolvent debtors who should give in a false account of their property, and one to limit the benefit of the Act to debtors who had been six months prisoners in execution’. Romilly obliterated these clauses on the recommittal of the bill (which eventually passed on 8 Dec. 1813), maintaining that the capital one had been smuggled in by Kenrick on his own authority. In December 1813 he turned to the rationalization of various Poor Relief Acts and eventually secured a measure for the purpose (54 Geo. III c.170).4 In October 1814 he informed the prime minister that he wished to give up Parliament. ‘Circumstances both of a public as well also of a private nature’ were his reasons and he offered his seat to Lord Liverpool’s nominee. Liverpool named Lord Binning, who found a seat elsewhere, whereupon Kenrick sold the seat. In 1816 he sold Bletchingley to William Russell of Brancepeth for £60,000. He purchased an estate near Dorking and died 22 Oct. 1829.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. V. Lambert, Bletchingley, i. 312; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 303.
  • 2. Morning Chron. 28 June 1810.
  • 3. Romilly, Mems. ii. 375; iii. 30.
  • 4. Ibid. ii. 383; iii. 109.
  • 5. Add. 38458, ff. 195, 197; Oldfield, Rep. Hist. iv. 613; Gent. Mag. (1829), ii. 565.