CRICH PARISH

which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

History of the Kenyon Family

Thanks to Peter Kenyon-Smith

The name Kenyon was spelt in a variety of ways: Kenyan, Kenney, Keny, Kennis, Kenny, Kenyen, Kennyon.

Photo courtesy of Beryl Calladine

photo of Becky Kenny's tree

On page 108 of Rod Jewel's book Memory Lane Belper, Ambergate and Districts he has the following note on the Kenyons.

On a commanding eminence within Shining Cliff Woods stood a famous yew tree called Betty Kenney's tree. Luke and Betty Kenny lived in the woods as charcoal burners during the 17th and 18th centuries.They brought up a family of eight children without having entered a home except for the purchase of necessities. Their habitation was a movable hut in the form of a cone or sugar loaf, one side of which was furnished with a bed upon turf, the opening was covered by a large board laid upon the outside which was covered with the turf they used in making charcoal. On cold nights they often took a portion of their wood fire into the hut.Their favourite spot in the woods was the shade of the immense yew tree under which one of their children is buried. Betty's real name was Kate Keynon and initially she travelled annually from Papplewick, Nottingham to these woods. The lullaby Rock-a -Bye baby is alleged to originate from Betty rocking one of her children to sleep on one of the hollowed-out stems of the yew tree. In 1909 the tree was said to be 2,000 years old.
Thanks to some local boys it was severely damaged by fire in about1930.


On pages 50 and 51 of the late Derek Wain book "The Hurts of Derbyshire" (sadly out of print) he writes about Luke and Betty Kenny as follows –

This chapter would not be complete without mention of Luke and Betty Kenny. These were a
married couple who came from Papplewick in Nottinghamshire each year to help with charcoal burning in Shining Cliff Wood. Eventually they stayed on a permanent basis and lived for many years in a makeshift hut in the woods. Francis, who no doubt had a very soft spot in his heart for the couple, commissioned James Ward, a Royal Academy artist, to paint their portraits and invited the couple to pose separately in the dining room of the Hall. The picture was exhibited in London in 1882 in a collection of the artist's works and the catalogue had this to say about it:

Portraits of Luke and Betty Kenny

Two remarkable characters - Luke, aged 96, and Betty, 88. They lived, as charcoal burners, in
the woods of Alderwaslie (sic), Derbyshire, and brought up a family of eight children, without
ever having entered a house, except for the purchase of necessaries. Their habitation was a
moveable hut, in the form of a cone, or sugar-loaf, one side of which was furnished with a bed
upon the turf; and the opening was covered by a large board laid upon the outside. In cold
weather they usually took a portion of their wood fire within side the hut: the outside of the
tenement was covered with the turf they used in making charcoal. A rainy night had preceded
the morning on which the artist went to make his studies from the various articles connected
with their mode of life. He found the woman bailing out water with a wooden bowl from the
lower ground of the steamy bedchamber, where it had settled at the foot of the bed in a
considerable quantity: - yet, such is the force of habit, that when the old man was standing for
his picture in the large dining parlour, he expressed himself miserably uncomfortable from
the cold, and at the same time observed, how much more warm and comfortable he was in his
snug little habitation, than in those great and comfortless rooms. Luke was the first portrait.
When his wife came to sit for her likeness, and saw the representation of her husband, she
burst into tears, exclaiming, 'Ah! poor old soul, there he is, for all the world, with his round
back! He was once as straight as an arrow; but he is welly done.' Their favourite spot in the
woods was the shade of an immense yew-tree, under which one of their children is buried.

After toiling for years in this miserable employment of charcoal burning, they accumulated
a sum of ten pounds. Some wretched miscreant, having ascertained this circumstance, broke in upon their retirement, dragged them from their bed, and, after treating them with great
cruelty, robbed them of their treasure. The man survived his loss but a short time. The woman
may be yet alive.

When Betty declared that Luke was 'welly done', it is thought that she meant he was nearing his
end rather than complimenting the artist. It is believed that she herself lived on for there is a Hurt tradition that she danced at a party in the Hall, held to celebrate her 100th birthday. There is also another story which relates that, as she worked, she laid her babies in a hollow in a bough of the yew tree and sang

Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
And down will come cradle, and baby, and all.

This cradle song has of course now become one of the most popular of nursery rhymes. Young
mothers everywhere can now place a picture to the words.

photo of luke and betty kenny

The yew tree which was home to Luke and his wife became known as Betty Kenny's Tree. Writing in 1909 Louis Hurt states, "The tree is said to be 2000 years old. About twenty years ago some mischievous boys set fire to it, and now only the gigantic trunk and some enormous boughs remain, which, however, still send out shoots."

The painting shown above, by James Ward RA, was commissioned by Francis Hurt (1781 – 1854). From James Ward's account book it can be seen that the Kennys would have sat for this painting prior to November 1811. It is likely that the ages for the Kennys given at this time are incorrect.
The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1814 (no. 57) and was hung in the dining room of Alderwasley Hall for many years. However, after the Hurts had left Alderwasley in the 1930s, the painting appears to have been lost.

painting of

A second painting, shown above, was completed as a study for the main painting and was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1817(no. 151).
Unfortunately the whereabouts of this study-painting is unknown but a photograph of it exists and can be found at the Lowewood Museum Hertfordshire. The hand written notes that accompany the photograph give a good account of the history of these two paintings.

label to the Luke Kenny painting


As a study for these two paintings Ward made a pencil and black chalk drawing of the hut in which the Kennys lived whilst charcoal burning in the woods at Alderwasley. This original drawing is now in the ownership of Peter Kenyon-Smith, and is shown below together with the notes explaining its provenience.

photo of pencil drawing by James Ward

From "DRAWINGS BY JAMES WARD":

[46] A Charcoal Burner's Hut

Pencil and black chalk 13 x 20 15/16 inches • 33 x 53.1 cm Signed 'JWD.RA' and inscribed with short­hand notes; inscribed on the old backing sheet 'Charcoal B. Hut' Provenance: Summerhayes

Anthony Reed has pointed out that this drawing appears to have been made for use in Ward's painting of the charcoal burners Luke Kenny and his Wife Kate which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1814 (no.57), commissioned by Francis Hurt (1781-1854) of Alderwasley Hall, Belper, Derbyshire. A further painting of the same couple was shown at the Academy in 1817 (no.151): this was acquired by Thomas Garle. Ward attached a lengthy note to the first exhibit:

Portraits of Luke Kenny, aged ninety-six, and Kate, his wife, aged eighty-eight, who have lived in the woods upwards of fifty years, and brought up a family of eight children in the hut represented, which they erect in various parts of the wood, in which they have occasion to follow their employment, being that of burning charcoal.

These notable characters lived in the woods at Alderwasley. (The Hall itself still stands and is now a residential school for disabled children.)

In his 1822 exhibition at Newman Street Ward again showed Portraits of Luke and Kate Kenny, noting that the Kennys' home was 'a moveable hut, in the form of a cone, or sugar-loaf, one side of which was furnished with a bed upon the turf; and the opening was covered by a large board laid upon the outside ... the outside of this tenement is covered with the turf they used in making char­coal' {Descriptive Catalogue, 1822, no.11, pp.3-4). The 'large board' is presumably the structure Ward has lightly depicted in our drawing, behind the hut. He has clearly shown the turf covering of the hut and the tools of the burner's trade.

Photographs and information, courtesy of Peter Kenyon-Smith

Wirksworth Parish Registers record Luke Kenyon's burial as 5th January 1814 aged 96 years. The vicar has written beside the entry:

NB Luke Kenyon No 107 had lived the most part of his time in Huts in the woods & Burned charcoal and his wife is 94 years old & walked from Alderwasley to his funeral.

Many of their descendants lived in Bonsall, Alderwasley, Crich and Crich Carr.

Family information courtesy of Peter Kenyon-Smith

Roger Kenyan
Born c 1706
Mar 23 Feb 1736 Rolleston, Notts

Elizabeth Wells
Born c 1710

 

Samuel Kenyan
Bap 27/06/1725 Morton by Fiskerton, Notts

Luke Kenyon
Bap 07/02/1730 Rolleston, Notts
Bur 05/01/1814 Alderwasley
Occ charcoal burner
Mar 13/04/1755 Rolleston, Notts

Elizabeth (Betty) Brooks
Bap11/04/1731, Papplewick
Occ charcoal burner

Eliz Kenyon
Bap 01/01/1732 Rolleston, Notts
Mar 24/02/1770, Rolleston

John Girton
Born c 1730

(Son Samuel Kenyan bap 02/11/1766, Rolleston)

Ann Kenyon
Bap 20/12/1734 Rolleston, Notts
John Kenyon
Bap 27 Aug 1736 Rolleston, Notts

 

Luke Kenyon
Bap 07/02/1730 Rolleston, Notts
Bur 05/01/1814 Alderwasley
Occ charcoal burner
Mar 13/04/1755 Rolleston, Notts

Elizabeth (Betty) Brooks
Bap11/04/1731
Occ charcoal burner

John Kenyon
Bap 28/03/1756 Rolleston, Notts

Elizabeth Kenyon
Bap 29/07/1758 Rolleston, Notts

Luke Kenney
Bap 18/10/1761 Pinxton
Occ farmer
Mar 18/08/1790 Bonsall

Elizabeth Walker
Bap 17/03/1771 Bonsall
Died Aug 1821 Poor House Ashover
Bur 06/08/1821 Bonsall

Ann Kenney
Bap 11/01/1765 Pinxton

William Kennis
Bap 06/06/1768 Alderwasley

Mary Kenney
Bap 07/04/1771 Alderwasley

Samuel Kenyon
Bap 27/06/1773 Alderwasley
Died Jul 1851 Crich Carr
Bur 27/07/1851 Crich
Occ boatman
Mar about 1800

Mary
Died Nov 1844 Crich Carr
Bur 01/12/1844 Crich

Delia Kenyon
Bur 11/02/1777 Alderwasley

Luke Kenney and E lizabeth Walker lived in Bonsall and had seven children: James, Ann, William, Samuel, Hannah, George, Maria.

Luke Kenney
Bap 18/10/1761 Pixton
Occ farmer
Mar 18/08/1790 Bonsall

Elizabeth Walker
Bap 17/03/1771 Bonsall
Died Aug 1821 Poor House Ashover
Bur 08/08/1821 Bonsall

James Kenny
Bap 02/01/1791 Bonsall

Ann Kenney
Bap 28/07/1793 Bonsall
Died 05/07/1865 Matlock
Mar 26/05/1817 Bonsall

Charles Kirkland
Bap 16/01/1785 Bonsall
Died 07/1871 Matlock
Occ farmer

Son Charles Kennyon bap. 17/03/1817 Bonsall)

William Kenny
Born 02/12/1797
Bap 13/05/1798 Bonsall

Samuel Kenny
Born 14/11/1799
Bap 08/12/1799 Bonsall
Bur 22 Jul 1810 Bonsall

Hannah Kenny
Born 18/04/1804
Bap 28/05/1804 Bonsall

George Kenyon
Born 03/08/1806
Bap 10/08/1806 Bonsall
Died 28/12/1875, Chester
Occ soldier

1st Mar. 20/08/1844 Belturbet, Co. Cavan, Ireland
Margaret Armstrong
Born c1805 Ireland
Died 24/06/1866 Chester Barracks

2nd Mar. 09/07/1867 Chester
Mary Hassall
Born c1834
Died 04/01/1880 Chester

Maria Kenyon
Born 01/06/1808
Bap 05/06/1808 Bonsall
Bur 07/05/1812 Bonsall

Luke and Elizabeth's son George Kenyon became a soldier in the 14th Foot, which became the West Yorkshire Regt. The historical records of the regiment for1689-1892 say " The families of Kenyon and Armstrong have long been represented in the regiment, and the name continues, and it is hoped will long continue regimental ones. The late Quarter- Master-Sergeant Kenyon, of the Cheshire Militia, and late of the 14th, entered the regiment about 1830." He had three sons George, Frederick and Charles who all became soldiers in the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Luke's brother Samuel Kenyon and his wife Mary lived in Crich and Crich Carr and had five children.

Samuel Kenyon
Bap 27/06/1773 Alderwasley
Died Jul 1851 Crich Carr
Bur 27/07/1851 Crich
Occ boatman
Mar about 1800

Mary
Died Nov 1844 Crich Carr
Bur 01/12/1844 Crich

Mary Keny
Born c 1801 Crich
Bur 08/07/1801 Crich

William Kenny
Born c 1801 Crich
Bur 30/05/1808 Crich (drowned)

Ann Kenyon
Bap 03/06/1821 (as Kenyen)

Luke Keny
Bap 17/08/1806 Crich Carr
Bur 07/08/1882 Crich
Occ boatman
Mar c 1832

Elizabeth
Born c 1811 Stamford, Lincs

Elizabeth Kenyon
Born 13/12/1797 Ashover
Bap 01/01/1798 Ashover (as Betty Kenyon)
Bur 21/02/1889 Crich
Mar 03/05/1820 Crich

John Prince
Born c 1801 Barrow-on-Trent
Died 1851 Derby
Occ boatman

Samuel and Mary's daughter Ann Kenyon had an illegitimate daughter Mary Ann Kenney baptised 27/02/1842 at Crich.

Their son, Luke Keny and his wife Elizabeth had nine children and lived in Crich Carr.

Luke Keny
Bap 17/08/1806 Crich Carr
Bur 07/08/1882 Crich
Occ boatman
Mar c 1832

Elizabeth
Born c 1811 Stamford, Lincs

Mary Kenney
Bap 28/09/1834 Crich Carr

Sarah Kennyon
Bap 19/06/1836 Crich Carr

Samuel Kenyon
Bap 01/04/1838 Crich Carr

Robert Kennyon
Bap 08/03/1840 Crich Carr

William Kenyon
Bap 26/09/1841 Crich Carr
Bur 25/06/1843 Crich

Luke Kennyon
Bap 08/09/1844 Crich Carr

James Kennyon
Bap 21/03/1847 Crich Carr

Elizabeth Kennyon
Bap 20/05/1849
Mar 15/02/1869 Wirksworth

Joseph Pidcock
Born c 1845 Cromford

Ann Kennyon
Bap 27/07/1851 Crich Carr

Elizabeth Kenyon and John Prince lived in Crich and had twelve children.

Elizabeth Kenyon
Born 13/12/1797 Ashover
Bap 01/01/1798 Ashover
Bur 21/02/1889 Crich
Mar 03/05/1820 Crich

John Prince
Born c 1801 Barrow-on-Trent
Died 1851 Derby
Occ boatman

Mary Prince
Bap 13/08/1820 Crich
Died 1906 Crich
Mar 09/06/1845 Crich

James How
Born 12/06/1823 Sutton Bonnington
Bap 06/1826 Loughborough
Died 1890 Crich
Occ boatman

Robert Prince
Bap 07/04/1822 Crich
Bur 11/09/1836 Crich (drowned)

Samuel Kenyon Prince
Bap 28 /03/1824 Crich
Died 1912 Crich
Occ boatman
Mar 26/01/1846 Crich

Elizabeth Howe
Born 22/11/1825 Sutton Bonnington
Bap 06/12/1826 Loughborough
Died 1904 Crich

Elizabeth Prince
Bap 26/02/1826 Crich

Ann Prince
Bap 16/03/1828 Crich

James Prince
Bap 30/06/1833 Crich

Maria Prince
Bap 30/06/1833
Bur 21/06/1860

Harriett Prince
Bap 05/04/1835 Crich

Hannah Prince
Bap 12/03/1837 Crich

John Prince
Bap 30/06/1839 Crich

Sarah Prince
Bap 21/02/1841 Crich
Bur 06/02/1842 Crich

Thomas Prince
Bap 12/03/1843 Crich

Additional information on the Prince family by Peter Patilla

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