Thorne & Bryan Genealogy
Last Page Activity: January 7, 2014         



Birth:    15 Aug 1818  Place:  Drumreagh, County Antrim, Ireland 

Death:   26 Jan 1898  Place: Saint John, New Brunswick


Father:   George KENNEDY  (1775-1857)

Mother:  Mary PAUL   (1776-1835)


Spouse:   Eliza CONN

Birth:  29 Apr 1821  Place: Portrush or Coleraine, Ireland2

Death:  19 Dec 1875   Place of death:   334 W 55th Street, New York, New York

Father:  Thomas CONN

Mother:  Nancy MARTIN


Marriage:  9 May 1848  Place: Drumachose, Londonderry Co., Ireland 



Thomas (-1863)

George (abt 1850-)

Hugh  (1852-1871)

Mary   (1854-1936)


Eliza "Lizzie" (1858-)

Sarah (1859-1887)

Matilda (1863-1898)


Rev James Kennedy DD
KENNEDY - CONN Marriage Registry 1848 05 09
1848 Kennedy-Conn marriage registry.  Click on picture to enlarge. 

KENNEDY Limavady Church Records for Kennedy family registrar
Click on picture of 1862 church record to enlarge.
KENNEDY St John City & County Death Registry

Notes for Rev James KENNEDY

  • Before Rev Kennedy and his family's departure from Newtownlimavady Ireland, to go to a parish in New York City, the Limavady congregation presented him with an album.  The first three pages are a handwritten "parting address" while the remaining pages (one show below right chosen at random) are filled with pictures (some tintypes) of members of the congregation.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge. 

These pages (pictured above) read:

Parting Address of the Members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Newtownlimavady to the

Rev. James Kennedy.

Rev and Dear Sir

We cannot allow you to part from us without some token of our appreciation of your valued services during the lengthened period of your ministry among us.

We dare not interfere with your acceptance of the "unanimous call" to one of the large Cities of America, - one of the great centres of civilization and progress, - assured that you have taken your present step constrained by a sense of duty to Christ and his church; and while we exceedingly regret your removal, we submissively recognise the hand of God "who metes out the bounds of habitation" assigning you a wider field of usefulness, and, we trust, a larger share of happiness for yourself, and also for your amiable and promising family, than you could have had with us.

When you became our pastor our numbers were few indeed. By your enliting devotedness to the work of the ministry, by your irreproachable and exemplary life, you have won the confidence and approval of all, and from a small beginning we are now in the good Providence of God, a well organised and united congregation. The seed sown will we trust bring forth "much fruit". Where you have sown another shall reap, - while you have planted another shall water; yet each shall receive "his own proper reward’.

The instruction of the young had a large share of your attention in obedience to the command "Feed my lambs". We do confidently hope that a generation "wiser and better than their fathers" will manifest that you have not in this respect "laboured in vain".

Your kindly, genial disposition made your pastoral visits highly acceptable. They were frequent and seasonable. Your warm sympathy with the afflicted, - the suffering and the bereaved endeared you very much to us all; while your earnest prayers for "grace to help" - your tender pressing entreaties to "lay hold on Christ", and your opportune presentation of the gracious promises of the Gospel to the sick and dying, have brightened the prospect and cheered the hearts of many of our loved ones, who are now, we trust, "among the ransomed around the throne". We have had your sympathy in all our joys and sorrows, and the fond and grateful recollection will not soon fade from our memories.

But to the preaching of the Word you gave all your strength, justly recognising this as the divinely appointed instrumentality, not only for the conversion of sinners, but also the upbuilding of believers - in faith, hope, holiness, and comfort. We own with deep regret, our slow progress in the knowledge of "divine things", but we take the blame to ourselves.

Your diligent preparation for the Sabbath gave a freshness and power to our plain Scriptural services.

The exploration of the book of Psalms has greatly endeared to us that portion of the Bible and has been to us a delightful and instructive exercise; while the pulpit reading of large portions of Scripture with the "running comment" has flashed many a truth into our minds that might otherwise have been overlooked.

Your lively pictorial teaching will do doubt attract many in your new sphere. The large experience you have had, your keen observation, and practical mind in connection with the sound theological principles of our time-honoured Confession and Testimony, will enable you to combat, the silly innovations, and weak fantasies that are creeping into many churches, the leavening influence of which it is to be feared is felt everywhere. Hitherto you have not sought to gratify the popular taste; and we confidently anticipate that the sensationalism and the morbid anxiety for novelty that so generally prevail will be strenuously opposed by you on the western side of the Atlantic as they have been here; and that you will have a nobler theme and higher aim whilst with the Apostle you say "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ"’ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes".

We are well aware that our brethren of other denominations sympathise with us in our feelings as to your removal. Your frequent labours and services throughout our district have been highly appreciated; and many connected with other churches join with us in bidding you - God-speed.

We have only further to add that our hearts have deeply felt for you and your beloved partner in the sorrowful bereavement which you have just been called to suffer - a dispensation rendered doubly touching and trying in the circumstances in which you are now placed, and we beg to assure you of our deep sympathy with you in this affliction.

We also beg your acceptance of the accompanying presents from ourselves and some Christian friends in the neighbourhood who have felt desirous to be allowed to join in this tribute of love and respect. May it not only testify to you our loving regards, but be a remembrance to you for a long time to come of those to whom we believe your ministry has proved as signal blessing.

May He who measures the waters in the hollow of His hand, and holds the winds in His fists, carry you and yours in health and safety across the great deep. That God may bless you and make you a blessing in the land of your adoption, is the earnest prayer of your attached friends who now bid you an Affectionate Farewell.

Signed on behalf of the Congregation – Matthew Dodge, Elder; David Hopkins, Deacon; John Hastings, Member; John McDonnell, Member Newtownlimavady, Co Londonderry, Ireland, October 1870

  • "There is an outdoor Presbyterian service .... They bring a picnic basket and have a nice party after the service.  They call it a 'conventicle' after the ancient Presbyterian meetings on the Scotch moors."  Irene Shaw-Morrison letter dated June 27, 1972


  • 1880 Census for New York City, New York  shows James Kennedy (head of household), Race "W",  Gender "M",  Age "62", marital status "W" for widower, occupation "Minister of the Gospel", Birthplace "Ireland", Father's birthplace "Ireland", Mother's birthplace "Ireland".   Other people in the household were daughters Mary, Lizzie, Sarah and Matilda, as well as a servant named Ellen Kuhan. 
KENNEDY Link Icon-sample of 1880 New York Census 

 Click on picture of "Kennedy" entry in 1880 New York City, New York Census  



  • The following are excerpts (pictures not included) from a book titled "Prayer by James Kennedy" (as stated on hard cover) or "Thoughts on Prayer by Rev. James Kennedy, D.D., Late Pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church, New York City, and author of "Christ In The Song." (As stated on first page).

"The following little treatise on Prayer was completed by Mr. Kennedy not long before his death. He had it on hands for a year or two and spent many hours over it during those last days of his life in which her was not able for continuous pulpit work. The spirit in which it was begun was, as he said himself, a desire to leave behind him something by which he might do good and be remembered. It is the fruit of his most mature Christian experience, although not of his greatest intellectual vigor.

In Offering some biographical details, it should be said, perhaps, that Mr. Kennedy had a great aversion to being written up. He did not like to see in print matters that he thought concerned only himself in his private relations. He enjoyed appreciation of his work as much as any man, and found a stimulus in it, but to record personal and complimentary matter as such would be contrary to his wishes. The following details are meant only to illustrate character and to furnish to his friends the outlines of his life. * (Foot note: *Some details of Mr. Kennedy's life are best told by his associates in church work, and will be found in Minutes appended.)

James Kennedy was born in August of the year 1818. He was of Scottish ancestry, but his forefathers had lived for some years in County Derry in the North of Ireland. In his boyhood he showed great force of character by overcoming difficulties in preparing for college. His early professional training was received at the Belfast Academical Institution under the presidency of Dr. Bryce, famous as an educator in his day. After completing his studies in Belfast he went to Paisley, Scotland, to study theology and hear the lectures of Dr. Andrew Symington. On May 10th 1842, he was licensed to preach the gospel, and a little more than a year after he was ordained pastor of the Broadlane and Derrybeg congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Dates and facts such as these are an imperfect record. Between these turning points of his career were multitudes of lesser experiences _ heart experiences, also _ that made the man. During his years at college and seminary, as well as in the early period of his ministry, he gave some time to teaching. He had certificates from Dr. Bryce of his knowledge and skill in the sciences and the ancient languages. He prepared young men for college; and in the invigoration of his own mind received by this means contributed to the development of that logical force and grasp that were admired in his preaching to his latest years.

It is interesting to notice the pains Mr. Kennedy took to make his pulpit work finished in matter and method. Among his books is a bound volume of manuscript sermons dated at the village in which he first resided. It consists of twenty-four sermons and lectures, each on its own text, written in full and with all the excellencies and faults in form characteristic of the rhetorical tastes of the age. But they illustrate very well the distinctive notes of his preaching _ its instructiveness, its many-sidedness, its attention to all the possibilities of a text, with an "Improvement" which leaves no doubt as to what he though the main value of doctrine.

It was not long after his settlement that the temperance reform began to stir the churches of Ireland. Mr. Kennedy threw himself into his work with all his might. Drunkenness was the most prevalent social evil of his time, and in his early youth it had often excited his disgust. When a public attack was made upon it, he was ready to follow or to lead. The main hope of the reformers was in methods for protecting the young.

"The drunkards will never be dead:

I'll tell you the reason why _

The young ones they grow up

Before the old ones die."

So ran the slogan, and thousands rallied to the cry. Bands of Hope were organized everywhere and printed pledges were signed by old and young. Mr. Kennedy and his people were among the first in zeal and in effort. A great deal of good was accomplished. He knew men too well to expect at once a perfect change in habits that were the growth of years. But let us make an advance when we can, he said, and trust to God and the best in man to conserve what is gained.

During the first period of his ministry, Mr. Kennedy was fond of open air preaching on the evenings of the Sabbaths. The long twilights and the respect paid to the Sabbath by all classes, made it possible to gather great companies of people on some piece of green meadow, under the shelter of a few friendly trees. In such places he delight to preach the word of life, and to bring to bear on men and women of all classes the motives of the gospel of Christ. It was a semi-mission work, peculiar in some respects to the place, and it offered opportunities which Mr. Kennedy's eager spirit was eagerly seized.

In the year 1859 took place that strange religious stirring which was then called a Revival. It was somewhat similar to a movement which our missionaries say is now in progress among the Ansairies of Syria. The distinctive feature of it was the physical accompaniments. Under the preaching of the gospel men and women were "stricken down" and rolled on the floor. When carried out they lay silent, as in a trance, or described visions they saw of Christ walking on the roof of the church, or in some of the attitudes familiar from passages of Scripture. Explanations of these phenomena have been offered from the standpoints of natural science and of theology. Mr. Kennedy welcomed the whole manifestation with some reserve. There were instances of genuine conversion and the beginnings of a holy life. There were also cases that were bodily exercise and nothing more. In the mysterious mingling of physical and spiritual, Mr. Kennedy applied Christ's supreme test, "By their fruits ye shall know them." The whole extraordinary incident, with its divine and human aspects, was a remarkable object lesson in the working of the grace of God on the basis of depraved humanity. It is for this reason tat it is referred to here, giving occasion as it did to some of Mr. Kennedy's strongest convictions on the nature of the Christian life.

The hearty interest which Mr. Kennedy took in guiding this spiritual awakening increased his reputation, and two consequences were soon apparent: His congregation was increased in numbers by the accession of families awakened people who felt drawn to him, and invitations came to him to accept a pastorate in churches offering a wider field. But, of course, a change in ecclesiastical relations was never seriously considered by him. Good feelings were reciprocated and life-ling friendships established.

It was early in his ministry, in the year 1848, that Mr. Kennedy was happily married to Eliza Conn. This made him acquainted with a domestic sphere and domestic duties to which by temperament he was greatly inclined. He took pride in his family and in his house and grounds. That famous old book, "The Manse Garden," with its poetry and its good sense, was a favorite. The cultivation of fruits and flowers a was his recreation. He found pleasure in every aspect of nature, and in ministering to nature and interpreting her phases, he found food for lofty thought. His family grew up in a genial atmosphere. Parental discipline was mild, and the memories of home still cherished by his children have their center in the affections of a cheerful and godly mother and father.

Mr. Kennedy always had correspondents in the churches in the United States. Some of his letters show that a good report of his work had reached the distant land. He had suggestions for settlement in vacant congregations. At this time Mr. Kennedy had no definite desires or design of any kind for a change in his place of work. But he had a desire to visit friends in the western world. We find him, accordingly, in the year 1869, on his way across the Atlantic and preaching in the churches of New York. As the outcome of an unexpected turn of events, he was called to the pastorate of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian church of New York. It held a position in the city well removed from the other congregations of the same denomination, and it looked forward to a fruitful work in its own field. Letters from members of the congregation to the pastor-elect overflow with good opinions and good hopes. The call was accepted, chiefly because it was considered a call of Providence and of the Lord of the church. On the 13th of November, 1870, Mr. Kennedy was installed pastor of the Fourth New York congregation. The congregation grew in numbers and erected a new church building on 48th Street.

In the year 1887 Mr. Kennedy was elected by the church to fill the chair in the Theological Seminary left vacant by the death of Dr. Sloane. He was thought well fitted for the position by experience and ability, and was urged strongly to accept it. But it was his own opinion that at his age and with his attachments to his congregation it was not wise to undertake anything in which so much depended on his success in an untried field.

It is a matter of more than private interest that in the year 1886 the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on Mr. Kennedy by the trustees of Geneva College. This corporation does not use its legal right to grant such degrees frequently, and it proceeds only on the ground of sufficient reason. Mr. Kennedy appreciated the intention and the honor, although all his life he had a singular dislike to titles of any kind.

During the last years of his ministry, the Fourth church, like many others, suffered severely in membership. Mr. Kennedy often spoke with regret of that movement of population which carried so many to the suburbs and eventually lost them to the church. The work of the church , however, went on, and the members sustained their pastor heartily to the last. At the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the ministry, an affectionate address was presented to him by his people, recounting the work and the achievements of his pastorate. This was emphasized by a public meeting and accompanied by valuable gifts.

It was at this period of his life, when Mr. Kennedy had reached his greatest ripeness of thought and experience, that he published his volume on "Christ in the Song." His work for the press had begun early in life. It included controversy, in pamphlet form, and periodical matter of general interest to the church and the times. His book on the Song is a good indication of his estimation of the Savior in His relations to men, and it speaks for itself as an interpretation of a difficult book of scripture. The following papers on Prayer now published are almost his last word to the world. If his mode of presenting this vital subject will bring help to any reader, the purpose in writing and publishing is so far attained. Mr. Kennedy had somewhat of Bacon's feeling, that every man owes a debt to his profession; and to his mind, the preparation of a useful book was a fitting recognition of his obligations to posterity and the public.

Mr. Kennedy had resigned the care of his congregation in 1896, and in November of 1897 he moved with his daughter to St. John, New Brunswick. The change was made for domestic reasons. It took off his shoulders the charge of a house and it brought him under the immediate care of a devoted daughter _ Mrs. Dr. Morrison _ and her family. 

James Kennedy died January 26, 1898 at KenMor Place in Hampton (near St. John) .

The change of scene seemed favourable to his health. He was contented and happy in his new home. He felt strong enough to preach twice for the congregation in St. John. But the bodily frame was weakening more rapidly than any one suspected. Heart action decreased in vigor and from this other parts of the system suffered. The end came on the 26th of January 1898, after only a few days of actual prostration. It was peaceful in every way. In life he was ever reticent on matters nearest his heart, and in the hour and article of death he spoke little. But his composed spirit and placid countenance betokened the triumph of faith and were more eloquent than speech in commending the death of the righteous. 


This sketch would scarcely be complete without a particular reference to Matilda Kennedy, the daughter who was the constant companion of her father during his last years. She was companion, care-taker, amanuensis, and it was she who provided for the publication of this volume as a Memorial. He devotion was so unremitting that she denied herself the ease and change of place which might have improved her health and prolonged her days. He health was not vigorous, and after the shock of a father's death it declined rapidly. In November, 1898 _ about ten months after the aged father _ she closed her earthly life and went to her reward. She lived in quietness and did her part _ a part that was rich in spiritual significance, and to those who know, a memory of precious worth."


The book: Prayer by James Kennedy is dedicated to  /   Mrs. Hugh O'Neill   /  his Dear Niece and True Friend   /   this little volume   /   was   /   affectionate inscribed   /   by   /   The Author   3


MORE NOTES re: James Kennedy



  • Note re Church in Limavady:  Quote from "Limavady and the Roe Valley by Rev. T. H. Mullin, M.A.D.D."  Page 96  -  "The Reformed Presbyterian or Covenanting meeting house was built on the Broad Lane (Greystone Road) in 1806 at a cost of 400 pounds.  About 1888 the old building was pulled down and a new one erected at a cost of 750 pounds.  During this period the services were conducted in the Alexander Memorial Hall. "


  • The following information was provided to us by the Presbyterian Historical Society in Ireland from a copy of they have of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (as they informed us - is a separate denomination) of the  FASTI of the Reformed Church  which included these details of James Kennedy:
  • Born 15th August 1818 at Drumreagh, Co. Antrim, son of George Kennedy and Mary Paul; 
  • Educated at  Bryce’s academy RBAI and Paisley
  • Licensed Northern Presbytery, 10th May 1842
  • Ordained Limavady 1843, May 18
  • Resigned 2nd August 1870
  • Mod. Irish Synod 1846,
  • Installed 4th, New Y ork Reformed Presbyterian, 13th Nov 1870
  • American Synod 1875
  • Graduated D. D. Geneva, 1886
  • Retired Oct 30 1894
  • Died 1898 Jan 26, interred Bronxville Cemetery.  
  • Married Eliza Conn, Coleraine, 9th May 1848
  • Published ‘Tekel’ (1858)
  • Published ‘Assurance of Grace and Salvation’ (1877)
  • Appointed Prof. in Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1887, declined appointment on account of age and attachment to pastoral ministry.
  • Published ‘Christ in the Song’


1. F20744, 1999-2001 Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

2. Irene Morrison, Unknown, Information sent to Peggy Bryan.

3. "In Memoriam. Prayer. by James Kennedy," Memoriam completed by ? Prayer was completed by James Kennedy not long before his death., Murdoch-Kerr Press, Pittsburgh, After January 26, 1898 (James Kennedy's death), Preface = Memoriam See notes for Copy.