KENDALL, James (1647-1708), of Birdcage Walk, Westminster and Carshalton, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1690
1695 - 1702
17 Jan. 1706 - 10 July 1708

Family and Education

bap. 17 June 1647, 4th but 3rd surv. s. of Thomas Kendall† of Lostwithiel, Cornw. by Elizabeth, da. of Arthur Arscott of Tetcott, Devon.  educ. M. Temple 1666; L. Inn 1666.  unm. 1s. illegit. by Walker Colleton.1

Offices Held

Cornet, R. Horse Gds. 1675; lt.-col. Ld. Morpeth’s (Edward Howard†) Ft. 1678–9; capt. Coldstream Gds. 1680–7.

Freeman, Portsmouth 1678.2

Gov. and v.-adm. of Barbados 1689–93, member of council 1694–5; ld. of Admiralty Feb. 1696–9.3


Kendall, a younger son, inherited plantations in Barbados and Jamaica from his father which included the ownership of many slaves. During Charles II's reign he had forged a career in the army, and having been returned to the 1685 Parliament as a Tory he initially supported the Court. However, he soon moved into opposition. This transfer of loyalties appears to have been prompted by the issue of Catholic officers in the army, and it was probably such concerns which led to his support for the Revolution. Kendall reaped his reward for this in September 1689 when he was appointed governor of Barbados, with a salary of £1,200 p.a. Having left for the West Indies in March 1690, he arrived in Babados in May. In the summer of 1692 he was entrusted with plans to attack the French plantations, and in December that same year he received assurances of the King's satisfaction with Kendall's ‘great care’ in this matter. In early 1693 Kendall was censured for appointing a receiver of the casual revenue of Barbados without consulting the Treasury, and this may explain why in March 1693 the lords of Trade were ordered to prepare a commission removing Kendall from the governorship of Barbados to that of Jamaica. During the summer of 1693, however, Kendall became involved in a bitter dispute with a group within the council and assembly of Barbados. The occasion of the dispute was the refusal of the colony's assembly to provide for the debt incurred by the military action of 1692 against the French plantations, but the roots of the disagreement appear to have lain in the hostility of a number of the colony's leading figures to an Act passed in 1692 requiring that members of the assembly take the Anglican sacrament. Kendall himself blamed this opposition upon a group of Quakers who, he informed the lrods of Trade, ‘are all Jacobites’. Even so Kendall's opposers were able to gain an order in council disallowing the 1692 elections Act, through the influence of the Whig Sir Peter Colleton, 2nd Bt.*, and by the end of 1693 he had been removed from his governorship. At this time Kendall wrote to Lord Rochester (Laurence Hyde†) that

I dare complain to no person but your lordship that I think I have a great deal of wrong done me by having a gentleman sent hither to command in chief where I have been captain-general for some years. I am sorry their Majesties and their ministers have no better opinion of me, though (without vanity be it said) perhaps I might have served them as well here, as a more experienced officer, the ways of making war in this part of the world being very different from those in Europe.
     I am more desirous than ever to remove to Jamaica, because in truth it is very uneasy for me to live in a place with disgrace where I have hitherto past [sic] my time with some reputation . . . I have nothing to value myself upon but the favour and friendship of your Lordship, my Lord of Ormond and my Lord Ranelagh [Richard Jones*].

However, these hopes of appointment as governor of Jamaica were dashed, though he was named in December 1693 as a member of the Barbados council. By the middle of 1694 he had begun his homeward journey to England, though he did not arrive at Falmouth until May 1695.4

At the 1695 election Kendall was returned for West Looe on the interest of his niece Mary, the heiress of the nearby Killigarth estate and a close friend of Lady Ranelagh. Kendall’s pre-Revolution Toryism may have led contemporaries to anticipate hostility to the ministry, as he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 upon the council of trade. Three days before, however, it was conjectured that Kendall would be named a lord of the Admiralty, an appointment which was indeed made the following month and he thereafter supported the Court. He promptly signed the Association, voted in March in favour of fixing the price of guineas at 22s. and in the following session voted, on 25 Nov., for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 20 Mar. 1697 he presented a bill to enforce the Act for the encouragement of seamen. The same day he and his Admiralty colleague Henry Priestman* opposed a request from the Lords that they attend the Upper House to provide evidence to the inquiry upon the Toulon fleet, but though the Commons delayed making a reply, it agreed, on 26 Mar., to the Lords’ request and Kendall attended the Lords at the end of the month. Kendall’s official responsibilities were again a matter for Commons’ debate in the following session when, on 15 Jan. 1698, the House considered a petition alleging that the lords of the Admiralty had stopped salary payments to a number of naval captains who had been captured by the French, even though they had been acquitted by a court martial. In the ensuing debate Kendall appears to have been singled out for particular criticism, and an attempt to have these actions classed as ‘arbitrary and illegal’ was only obstructed by the intervention of Charles Montagu, who proposed that the matter be referred to committee. Kendall’s only other recorded speech in this session was made in the ways and means committee of 17 May when he argued against imposing a duty upon imported sugar, drawing upon his own experience of this trade to support his claim that ‘if this tax were laid, the whole sugar island[s] must be ruined and that beneficial trade lost to the nation’.5

In July 1698 Kendall was included upon a list of placemen, and having retained his seat at the election later that year, appeared upon another such list in September. A comparison of the old and new Commons dating from this month listed him as a Court supporter, and the veracity of this judgment was borne out by his vote on 18 Jan. 1699 against the third reading of the disbanding bill. As an Admiralty commissioner, Kendall found himself under attack in the Commons during the following two months, when the opposition prosecuted their inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of the Admiralty during Lord Orford’s (Edward Russell*) tenure as first lord. At the end of January James Vernon I* reported that Kendall and Priestman were alleged to have signed an order in 1695 granting Priestman an additional allowance for his naval service in the Mediterranean in 1684, and in a debate in March on naval matters, probably that of the 10th, Kendall defended the Admiralty against further criticisms. His only other speech during the session was made in the supply committee on 4 Mar., when Kendall supported measures to maintain the military presence in the West Indies. In May it was reported that Kendall would resign or be removed from the Admiralty board, and his name was omitted from the new commission issued on 31 May 1699. In the summer he went to stay with Orford in the company of the Duke of Ormond, and Lords Rochester (Laurence Hyde†) and Ranelagh, which caused much political speculation, though it may have been connected with the marriage of Orford’s nephew to Ranelagh’s daughter. Kendall was largely inactive thereafter, and an analysis of the House dating from early 1700 classed him as doubtful or, possibly, of the opposition. He retained his seat at both elections in 1701, and in December 1701 was classed by Robert Harley* as a Whig.6

A disagreement with his niece meant that Kendall was dropped from West Looe at the 1702 election, after which he promptly disinherited her in his will. At the following election he contested Lostwithiel upon the interest of his kinsman Canon Nicholas Kendall, and though defeated at the poll he petitioned and was seated by the Commons on 17 Jan. 1706. An analysis of the 1705 Parliament classed Kendall as a ‘Churchman’, and on 18 Feb. 1706 he supported the Court in the proceedings upon the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. In early 1708 an analysis of the Commons listed Kendall as a Whig. Shortly after his return in 1708 he died of apoplexy at Carshalton on 10 July and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 16th. He left nothing to his niece and heir at law; instead, his estate worth £40,000 (including his plantation in Barbados) went to his mistress, Walker, daughter of Colonel Thomas Colleton (a relation of Sir Peter Colleton, 2nd Bt.*) whom he had met in Barbados and by whom he had an illegitimate son.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 264; Cal. Treas. Bks. xv. 169–70; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 258–62.
  • 2. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 363
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 178, 247; 1693, p. 78; 1696, p. 46; 1699–1700, p. 190; CSP Col. 1693–6, p. 220.
  • 4. Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 48; iii. 58, 353, 412, 478; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 187, 256, 1127; HMC Finch, iv. 276–8, 525; CSP Col. 1693–6, pp. 59, 124–6, 139, 140, 162–4, 200–1, 220; Add. 15895, f. 11.
  • 5. Westminster Abbey Reg. 267; Luttrell, iv. 11, 203; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/6, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 23 Mar. 1696–7; LJ, xvi. 131–2, 134, 136; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 311–12; CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 31–32, 248.
  • 6. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 256–7, 291; Cam. Misc. xxix. 390–1, 400; Luttrell, iv. 517; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 190; Add. 40444, f. 77; 30000 C, f. 112; 17677 CCC, f. 530.
  • 7. HMC Var. i. 336; HMC Portland, iv. 495; Westminster Abbey Reg. 264; Luttrell, vi. 327.