Kenyon, Lloyd, Lord

, lord chief justice of the King’s Bench, was born at Gredington, in Flintshire, 1733 and was the eldest surviving son of Lloyd Kenyon, esq. originally of Bryno in the same county, and one of the younger sons of the ancient family of Kenyon of Peele in Lancashire. He received the elementary part of his education at Ruthen in Denbighshire, whence he was taken, at an early age, and articled to Mr. W. J. Tomlinson, an eminent attorney at Nantwich, in Cheshire. On the expiration of his articles, Mr. Kenyon determined to enter into a line which afforded a more ample scope to his industry and talents, and, accordingly, became a member of the Society of Lincoln’s Inn, in Trinity Term 1754, and after a sedulous application to the requisite studies, was called to the bar in Hilary Term 1761. In the early part of his professional career, his advancement was but slow; he was unassisted by those means which powerful connexion and interest afford. The branch of his profession to | which he chiefly applied himself, that of conveyancing, was not calculated to bring him forward into public notice; but the sterling merit of genuine abilities and persevering industry were not to be overlooked. He rose gradually into practice; few opinions at the bar, at the time, carried more weight and authority, and he was frequently recurred to as an advocate. In 1773, he formed a matrimonial connexion with his relative, Mary, the third daughter of George Kenyon, of Peele and, not long after, contracted an intimacy with Mr. afterwards lord Thurlow and chancellor. About this period too, and for some years after, his practice in the Courtof Chancery was very extensive and of the most lucrative kind, by which, as well as in the other branches of his profession, he acquired a very considerable property. In 1780, a circumstance occurred which not a little contributed to establish his reputation as an advocate and a public speaker, his being employed as leading counsel for the defence of the late lord George Gordon, on a charge of high treason; on this interesting occasion his second was Mr. now lord Erskine, who on that day distinguished himself in such a manner as in a great degree laid the foundation of his future fame. In April 1782, soon after the accession of the Rockingham party to ministerial power, Mr. Kenyon was, without serving the intermediate office of solfcitor, appointed to the important situation of attorney-general, and, at the same time, chief justice of Chester; in the former office he succeeded the late James Wallis, esq. The circumstance of his direct promotion to the office of attorney-general was regarded as a singular instance; this however is erroneous, similar promotions have before occurred, and the case of sir Edward Law (the late attorney-general, now lord Ellenborough, his successor as lord chief justice), is a recent instance. In parliament Mr. Kenyon took a decided part in politics, warmly attaching himself to the party of Mr. Pitt; and distinguishing himself not a little by his speeches on the noted affair of the coalition, Mr. Fox’s India-bill, &c. In March 1784 he was appointed master of the rolls, an office of high judicial dignity, and generally leading to still higher legal honours; yet its emoluments fell very short of those which he necessarily relinquished by discontinuing his professional pursuits as a counsel. About this time he was created a baronet. In this situation sir Lloyd Kenyon continued till the latter end of May 1788, when, | on the resignation of the venerable earl of Mansfield, who, for the long interval of thirty-two years, had held the honourable and very important office of chief justice of the court of KingVbench, he was appointed to succeed him, and at the same time was elevated to the peerage, by the title of lord Kenyon, baron of Gredington in the county of Flint. He was now fixed in a situation, which, though not nominally the highest, is perhaps the most important office in the administration of the law of this country; and lord Kenyon furnished an instance nearly as striking as that of the illustrious Hardwicke, that the profession of the law is that which, of all others, affords the fairest opportunies for the exertion of genuine talents and persevering industry; whether the object be the gratification of ambition in the attainment of the highest honours in the state, or the possession of abundant wealth. His conduct in those arduous and important situations attracted and fixed the applauses and gratitude of his countrymen. He was distinguished for his laudable, firm, and persevering exertions to keep the channels of the law clear and unpolluted by low and sordid practices, which were particularly exemplified in the vigilant and salutary exercise of his authority over the attorneys of his own court, the utility of which has been experienced in a very considerable degree. Nor was he less distinguished for his zeal in the cause of morality and virtue, which most conspicuously appeared in his conduct with respect to cases of adultery and seduction. On these occasions neither rank, wealth, nor station, could shield deliquency from the well-merited censure and rebuke of offended justice and morality. Though much, unhappily, remains to be done, yet his lordship’s exertions, combined with those of some of the most virtuous and exalted characters of the upper House of Parliament, have contributed greatly, notwithstanding the acknowledged inadequacy and imperfection of the law in these respects, to restrain the fashionable and prevailing vices alluded to. What likewise redounded to the honour of his lordship’s magisterial character, was the strictness, not to say severity, with which he administered the justice of the law against the pernicious tribe of gamblers of every description, who have for some years infested the metropolis. On these occasions, as well as in those above mentioned, the conduct of this truly virtuous judge was such as incontrovertibly shewed that “the law is no respecter of | persons;” and his persevering exertions to restrain the destructive vice of gaming have been attended with no inconsiderable degree of success. Nor should we omit to mention the very laudable spirit and firmness, which on all occasions he evinced in maintaining due order and decorum in his court. It was justly said of him, that though he might not equal in talents or eloquence the pre-eminent character whom he succeeded on the bench of justice; nevertheless, he possessed qualities mor*e appropriate to, and knowledge more connected with, the important office which he held. Profound in legal erudition, patient in judicial discrimination, and of the most determined integrity, he added no common lustre to his exalted station. He did not sacrifice his official to his parliamentary character; the sphere of his particular duty was the great scene of his activity, as of his honour; and though, as a lord of parliament, he never lessened his character, it was as a judge that he aggrandized it. In private life, the character of lord Kenyon was amiable and praise- worthy in the highest degree no man could excel him in the relations of husband and father in the former he may be considered as a pattern of conjugal virtue. In his mode of living he was remarkably temperate and regular; while the gratuitous assistance in his professional capacity, which it was well known he had often afforded to necessitous and injured individuals, is a proof that a fondness for money was not a prevailing trait in his character. He died at Bath, April 2, 1802, supposed to be worth 300,000l. all acquired by his own professional exertions, and a rigid spirit of economy. Lord Kenyon had issue by his lady, three sons; Lloyd, born in 1775, whom his father appointed to the office of filazer of the Court of King’s-bench; but who died in 1800. The manner in which his lordship was affected by this melancholy event, is supposed, in some degree, to have accelerated his own dissolution. Secondly, George, the present lord Kenyon, born in 1776. His lordship was appointed by his late father to the very lucrative situation of joint chief clerk of the Court of King’s-bench, on the demise of the late earl of Mansfield, better known as lord viscount Stormont, and joined in the patent with the late John Waye, esq. And, thirdly, the hon. Thomas Kenyon, born in 1780, 1


Gent. Mag. LXXII.—Peerage by sir E. Brydges.