Local History by Seán Beattie


John Pitt Kennedy papers, NLI now released

John Pitt Kennedy papers, 1800-1964.

This collection contains the papers of Lieutenant-Colonel John Pitt Kennedy (1796-1879), Donegal-born military engineer and agricultural reformer. Educated in Foyle College, Derry and later the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he became a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1815 and thereafter worked extensively in Celaphonia, Greece (now known as the Ionian Islands) between 1822 and 1831. After this Kennedy returned to Ireland and served as Inspector General for Irish National Education Dept. from 1837 until 1839. He also served as secretary to the Devon Commission and on the Famine Relief Committee, wrote extensively on agricultural reform and improving conditions for farmers and was heavily involved in the Agricultural School at Loughash, Co. Tyrone. In 1849, he returned to military service and engineering, this time in India. He died in 1879 and was buried in London. This collection contains his correspondence with his extended family, letters concerning the agricultural school at Loughash, his work on railways and roads in India and extensive correspondence with the Napier family, including Sir Charles Napier under whom he served during his time in Cephalonia and India. Also included are his reports on agriculture in Ireland and the railways and roads of India. The collection also comprises a multitude of documents concerning the history of the Kennedy family. These were collected by Major Francis M.E. Kennedy (1869-?) as research for his book, ‘A family of Kennedy of Clogher and Londonderry’, (also included in the collection) and Geoffrey Winthrope Young, the grandson of John Pitt Kennedy’s brother Evory. Included are extensive family trees, genealogical notes and the research correspondence of Francis Kennedy. The collection also includes Kennedy family ephemera, including photographs and portraits, newspaper cuttings, memorial material and miscellaneous items from Cephalonia and India. The correspondence of Dr. Evory Kennedy, brother of John Pitt Kennedy, is also included, as well as some estate correspondence with the Style family (John Pitt Kennedy’s wife was Anna Maria Style).

The papers are an important addition to the research database for Donegal history, especially Inishowen and  central Donegal. The family connections with the Carys and Styles will provide new insights into the landed families of the county.  The link below provides access or simply go to NLI catalogue and search for Pitt Kennedy:


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