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THOMAS FRANCIS KENNEDY (1788-1879)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 731 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS FRANCIS KENNEDY (1788-1879), Scottish politician, was born near Ayr in 1788. He studied for the bar and became advocate in 1811. Having been elected M.P. for the Ayr burghs in 1818, he devoted the greater part of his life to the promotion of Liberal reforms. In 182o he married the only daughter of Sir Samuel Romilly. He was greatly assisted by Lord Cockburn, then Mr He,11ry Cockburn, and a volume of correspondence published by Kennedy in 1874 forms a curious and interesting record of the consultations of the two friends on measures which they regarded as requisite for the political regeneration of their native country. One of the first measures to which he directed his attention was the withdrawal of the power of nominating juries from the judges, and the imparting of a right of peremptory challenge to prisoners. Among other subjects were the improvement of the parish schools, of pauper administration, and of several of the corrupt forms of legal procedure which then prevailed. In the construction of the Scottish Reform Act Kennedy took a prominent part; indeed he and Lord Cockburn may almost be regarded as its authors. After the accession of the Whigs to office in 1832 he held various important offices in the ministry, and most of the measures of reform for Scotland, such as burgh reform, the improvements in the law of entail, and the reform of the sheriff courts, owed much to his sagacity and energy. In 1837 he went to Ireland as pay-master of civil services, and set himself to the promotion of various measures of reform. Kennedy retired from office in 1854, but continued to take keen interest in political affairs, and up to his death in 1879 took a great part in both county and parish business. He had a stern love of justice, and a determined hatred of everything savouring of jobbery or dishonesty.
End of Article: THOMAS FRANCIS KENNEDY (1788-1879)
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