Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy, ("JACK")
Regimental Number: 51288

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
& Royal Irish Rifles 

This Page Last updated: February 07, 2013

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The family history covers the strong link between the Kennedy and Stephenson lines, as detailed in the documents provided by my uncle (William James Guiler Kennedy).  As there were a number of WWI heroes in both the Kennedy and Stephenson families, some short mention of them demonstrates Jack's reasoning behind his enlistment.

The Kennedy Line

The history of the Kennedy's of Cross House Ballymoney has been traced back to 1150.    For details you will want to read Adobe PDF documents that contain much more of this detail provided here as the Kennedy Summary as well as the Stephenson-Montgomery-Kennedy Summary.  The short version of the genealogy chart for Jack Kennedy is as listed, updated in June 2008 with additional information contained in the service records of James Kennedy.

  1. Hamilton Kennedy, 6th Laird of Benane
  2. Robert Kennedy (second son of Hamilton, settled in Killeagus, Ireland)
  3. James Kennedy (only son)
  4. George Kennedy (eldest son), Killeagus 1775
  5. William Kennedy (eldest son) 1805
  6. Hew Catherwood Kennedy (5th son)
  7. William John Kennedy (eldest son)
  8. Rev. S. G. Kennedy (eldest son)
  9. Children of Prof. Rev. S. G. Kennedy
    William Kennedy (killed in the Great War on June 7, 1917)
    Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy (survived the Great War), 1896-1957
    James Kennedy (killed in the Great War on March 21, 1918)
    Samuel Guiler Kennedy (too young to serve in the Great War)
    Herbert Maurice Kennedy (too young to serve in the Great War)
    Christina Lang Kennedy

Work is in progress to prepare a Genealogical Chart for the Kennedy Family line dating back to Professor Reverend Samuel Guiler Kennedy (# "8" in the above list).  An initial outline of this tree was sent to me by my Uncle Guiler (son of Josiah Kennedy) circa 1993.  This was been updated in March 2008 with the additional information that came from Richard Kennedy, son of Peter Kennedy, who was the son of the "namesake son - Samuel Guiler Kennedy".  Also added to this was information contained in the military service records of James and Josiah Kennedy from the UK National Archives, and the school records from the Royal Belfast Academical Institution ("Inst.")

The chart will be updated as more information becomes available so please refresh your links whenever you check this chart: (the side chain of the Christina Kennedy - children Alan (son) and Kenn (daughter?) are not shown on this version but will be added at a later date, once information is retrieved from the families still in Ireland.

Additional research on Josiah's brothers was also discovered during the trek to track Grandfather Kennedy's war record.  Our associated Genealogical Research has made us aware that he had four (4) other brothers and one (1) sister.  James and William, which I believe were older than Josiah, were killed in the Great War. The younger bothers Samuel Guiler and Herbert Maurice) were too young to serve in the Great War.  The boys had a sister "Christiana Lang Kennedy" who married into the Stephenson line.  Christina's and Maurice's full names were found in the service records of her brother James Kennedy.  Those same documents list the mother as "Christina Lang Kennedy" as well, which conflicts with the chart showing "Christina Debbie".

In March 2008 the search to find out more about the Kennedy brothers was enhanced when my previously unknown 2nd Cousin "Richard Kennedy" contacted me from Ireland.  Richard had been researching our common Great Grandfather "Prof. Rev. Samuel Guiler Kennedy" and came across this web site.  The link was established and the hunt for additional details was intensified.  As this all occurred just a few days before St. Patrick's Day 2008, I took a long shot and posted a request for additional information to the Great War Forum.  The trap set was "Canadian Looking for a Leprechaun" and the Irish could not resist!  Within hours I had a number of replies, all leading to additional information on Josiah, William and James Kennedy. The details are included with what was already know in the summary table that follows.

In August 2010 CEFSG Member Annette Fulford provided a link to the on-line Irish Census (National Archives of Ireland, 1901 & 1911 Census). From there is was quick work to find Great Grandfather Samuel Kennedy and his family at 31 Cromwell Road (Cromac, Antrim): (note spelling as "Josias")

That documents is also available in the original form PDF1 and cropped as above PDF2. The text of the document as transcribed for the 1911 Census is as follows: (as "Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion Birthplace Occupation Literacy Irish Language Marital Status Specified Illnesses Years Married Children Born Children Living")

Kennedy Samuel G 49 Male Head of Family Reformed Presbyterian Co Derry Minister and Professor of Church History Pastoral Theology P S D Read and write - Married - - - - 
Kennedy Christina 46 Female Wife Reformed Presbyterian Scotland - Read and write - Married - 19 6 6 
Kennedy William 18 Male Son Reformed Presbyterian Scotland Bank Clerk Read and write - Single - - - - 
Kennedy Christina 16 Female Daughter Reformed Presbyterian Scotland Scholar Read and write - Single - - - - 
Kennedy Josias 15 Male Son Reformed Presbyterian Belfast City Business Apprentice Read and write - Single - - - - 
Kennedy James 12 Male Son Reformed Presbyterian Belfast City Scholar Read and write - Single - - - - 
Kennedy Samuel 9 Male Son Reformed Presbyterian Belfast City Scholar Read and write - Single - - - - 
Kennedy Herbert 8 Male Son Reformed Presbyterian Belfast City Scholar Read and write - Single - - - - 
Trainer Annie 25 Female Servant Roman Catholic Co Monaghan Servant Read and write - Single - - - - 

Great War Forum member Liam Curran supplied copies of the applicable pages from "Ireland's Memorial Records 1914-1918" for the Kennedy men.  Although we had a positive identification on William Kennedy, we were still not sure we had the correct James Kennedy. William Kennedy's number is 14/16657 (confirmed son of Rev. S. G. Kennedy) and the next number is James Kennedy 14/16658 (but not linked to father Rev. S. G. Kennedy).  Here are the pages Liam sent in March 2008 (click the image to see the full size):

The common link to date is their attendance at the same school in Belfast, which is contained in the information kindly provided in March 2008 by Great War Forum member Alan Curragh.  We were fortunate that Alan was researching the students of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution ("Inst") and had come across the Kennedy entries.  Images and links to these documents are posted in the following summary.  In May 2008 this information was enhanced by additional documents sent in by Alan Curragh from the UK National Archives at Kew (formerly "PRO" - Public Records Office).  These additional records allowed us to confirm the identity of James Kennedy and to fill in a number of gaps about the family of Reverend Samuel Guiler Kennedy.  Click here for a complete copy of these records: James Kennedy Records.

The Kennedy Brothers in the Great War:

We now know that at least three of the Kennedy boys attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution ("Inst.") as that is where Alan Curragh found the lads. Each of James, William and Josiah are listed on the Inst Honour Roll of the Great War.

click on image for complete honour roll


Memorial Plaque at Inst.

photo courtesy of Alan Curragh

Brother William Kennedy:

Some time after the initiation of the project to track the military service record of J. A. C. Kennedy, I went back to look for his older brother "William" who we knew had been killed in the Great War.  Fortunately, we also knew that only Josiah had enlisted from Canada, so a search was made of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site for a UK soldier who was the son of a Rev. S. G. Kennedy.  That search led us to the following: 

Kennedy, W.
Service Number: 14/16657
Rifleman, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in Action: June 7, 1917

photo courtesy of Alan Curragh
from records at "Inst"

Click on this image to see the larger picture that points directly at the grave of William Kennedy

In Memory of
Rifleman W KENNEDY

14/16657, 14th Bn., Royal Irish Rifles
who died on 07 June 1917
Son of The Rev. S. G. Kennedy, of Cromwell House, Cromwell

(see note with James Kennedy regarding the update of the CWGC records based on new information)

Medal Index Card of Pte. William Kennedy
U. K. National Archives

Note that the UK National Archives incorrectly shows his service number at #14/166, which from the image you will see is because the last digits "57" are under the stamp.  A correction was submitted and the correction has been made.


Brother James Kennedy:

As of this date I do not know which of the brothers was the oldest, only that Josiah was the 2nd son of Samuel Guiler Kennedy.

Prior to March 2008 there was no known identification of James Kennedy, although it was believed that he had been killed in the Great War. This was confirmed by the findings of Alan Curragh who found James Kennedy listed on the Memorial Plaque at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, along with William.  He is also listed in the Honour Roll with both Josiah and William.

Earlier attempts to identify James Kennedy from the records at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ("James Kennedy") failed.  Although there was a James Kennedy with Service Number 14/16658 (one past William's) this proved to be a James Kennedy with different parents.  Either the records or wrong or this was just a coincidence.

In May 2008, Alan Curragh sent on another set of documents that he discovered at the UK National Archives in Kew.  Alan photographed all of these and they are now posted to this web site at this location: "Records of James Kennedy".

There is quite a bit of additional information in these records, including other members of the family. The reason that James was not easily identified is that there was confusion in the records between "James" and "Josiah", both using the initial "J".  James was initially reported as KIA and then MIA, all a result of this confusion.  It was Josiah that was MIA, James was already KIA.

In July 2008 a record of the death of 2nd Lt. James Kennedy on March 21, 1918 was found in a current text "The 1st Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War", written by James W. Taylor. James is mentioned in the text in two locations, first at the battle at St. Quentin and second in the summary of those killed (see extract). For those interested in the action at that time in the Spring of 1918, I have also extracted a larger part, which also includes the information noted above (full section).

Based on the information that was submitted to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the records of each of James Kennedy and his brother William Kennedy have been modified to show the relationship of the brothers and their common father, Rev. S. G. Kennedy.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery


Records Confirmed May 2008
thanks to Alan Curragh)

In Memory of 
Second Lieutenant J KENNEDY
8th Bn. attd. 1st Bn., Royal Irish Rifles
who died on 21 March 1918

Remembered with honour
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

Medal Index Card - UK National Archives

James Kennedy, KIA March 21, 1918
(click image for full scale - full documents are here)

The updated records for James and William Kennedy are now posted to the CWGC site and can be found at these locations:


William Kennedy, CWGC revised

James Kennedy, CWGC revised

Each of the records have been adjusted to show: 

Son of The Rev. S G. Kennedy, of Cromwell House, Cromwell Road, Belfast. His brother _ Kennedy also fell.

In August 2008 Alan Curragh added to our collection with pictures he took of James Kennedy's grave at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery in France (south west of St. Quentin on the east of the River Somme).

Photos from Alan Curragh (click image for full scale)

Brother Maurice Kennedy:

We initially identified two (2) Maurice Kennedy's on the U.K. National Archives. 

We now know from the records supplied by Alan Curragh that Maurice (his first name was actually Herbert) was only 15 in March of 1918, so much to young to be in the war.

The new document to the right, included in the full package, shows the surviving children of Reverend Samuel Guiler Kennedy in March 1918.  William and James are not on the list as they were KIA. 



Family Members, March 1918


Samuel Guiler Kennedy:

There is no record to date of the "namesake" son having served in the Great War, which was confirmed with the documents from Alan Curragh in May 2008.  As per the note to Herbert Maurice Kennedy, we know that the namesake son was only 16 years old in March of 1918.

The list to the right are the ages of the siblings taken from the UK National Archive records and the image shown above for Maurice.

We now know the following names and ages:
(March 1918)

Samuel Guiler Kennedy 56
Christina Lang Kennedy 52

William Kennedy - KIA
James Kennedy - KIA
Christina Lang Kennedy 24
Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy 22, POW
Samuel Guiler Kennedy 16
Herbert Maurice Kennedy 15

It is interesting to note that after Grandfather Kennedy left the CEF to take a commission in the Imperial Army, he too ended up with the Royal Irish Rifles.  As noted in the "Stephenson" line which follows, William Stephenson was also in the 14th Royal Irish Rifles, the same battalion as William Kennedy

Further details were provided in an e-mail from Auntie Peg (Chancellor's daughter-in-law "Marguerite Parker Murray") that told us more of the intricate details of the Kennedy-Stephenson family ties.  Auntie Peg reports that during one their (Aunt Peg and Uncle Guiler - Chancellor's son) trips to Ireland they found out that Chancellor's wife Essie Stephenson was previously engaged to William Kennedy.  William, as you have read above, was killed in the Great War.  Jack (aka Josiah or Chancellor) mentioned in one of his letters home that "he would write to Essie, and mention how sorry he was to hear the news".  As Aunt Peg reports, that means that Jack and Essie got together after the war.  Had William survived, Jack (my grandfather) would not have been married to Essie - thus I would not be here as I am today.

Also in the new news from Auntie Peg, we learnt that Thomas Stephenson (see below), married one of the Kennedy girls, Chris.  Quite the integrated families!  On further checking the family history documents that Uncle Guiler (William James Guiler Kennedy) left me, it does clearly show that that Rev. S. G. Kennedy married Christiana Debbie, and that they daughter Christina married Tom Stephenson, and had children Kenn and Alan.  To complete this section, Rev. Kennedy's other issue were James, S. Guiler and Maurice.

I have resurrected a copy of the circa 1993 that my Uncle Guiler drew for the linkages between the Kennedy and Stephenson lines.  As more of the family members start to research the individuals, this information becomes more valuable.


The Kennedy-Stephenson Interaction
(click here or on the image to see the file in larger scale)

The Stephenson Line

William's younger brother "Uncle JACK" (as the Stephenson's referred to Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy) is reported to have spent his war time in France, as did his brother-in-law Tom Bones Stephenson, M.C. (1891-1991). There is some confusion in the interpretation of the family records as each of Tom and Jack (Chancellor Kennedy) had elder brothers named "William", each of which apparently was killed in the Great War (see William Kennedy above). 

We have added the information for the "Stephenson"  soldiers as found on the registrations for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In summary:

Andrew Stephenson - severely gassed during WWI, buried alive by an exploding German shell, surviving only to develop Parkinson's disease.

William Stephenson (1890-1916), was a Sergeant in the 14th Irish Rifles (the same battalion as William Kennedy, our Grandfather Kennedy's elder brother - a link established not just by tennis and church but in war - see below), having reportedly refused a commission.  William died in his 26th year, just before the Battle of the Somme.  He was interred at Hamel in France.

click here for Hamel Military Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel

CWGC Record for William Stephenson

CWGC Certificate for Sgt. W. Stephenson

Thomas Bones Stephenson, M.C. (1891-1991) "a centurion" said he volunteered as a result of his bother William's death.  Thomas, unlike William, opted to go to war in France as a commissioned officer with the legendary Ulster Division.  This again suggests a link to Jack and the Royal Irish Rifles, as that was a part of the famed Ulster Division, as reported on the link as noted on the "Long, Long Trail Web Site:

"In September 1914, the Ulster Division was formed from the Ulster Volunteer Force which raised thirteen battalions for the three Irish regiments based in Ulster; the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Rifles."

Thomas was interviewed by the Ulster Star, just 5 days after his 100th birthday, reporting still on the vivid memories of the Great War:

"No-one who lived through the war in the trenches could ever forget it, it was terrible.   Before going "over the top" the men would all get a tot of rum to give them courage,  I vividly remember wading through the trenches waist deep in water handing it out.  You knew that when you were doing so that many of them would never come back."

Thomas was invalided out of the army in 1918, at which time he held the rank of Acting Captain.  He had been awarded the Military Cross (see also our sister web site for George Van Wyck Laughton, M.C.), as reported in the London Gazette on February 8, 1918 (page 2162) with the citation reported in the Gazette on July 18th, 1918 (page 8473): 

London Gazette for July 18, 1918, page 8473 
Citation for Military Cross - For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. His company commander having been wounded early in the operations he assumed command and organized and led bombing parties when the enemy sought to enter our trenches, driving them back.  He showed great courage, initiative and resource under most trying conditions, and set a splendid example to his men.

London Gazette for February 18, 1918 
Appointment as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Irish Rifles

My maternal grandmother, Esther ("Essie") Stephenson (1892-1984), was the sister of Tom Stephenson.  It is interesting to note that "Jack's" sister Christina Kennedy married Tom Stephenson (April 30, 1920).  Chancellor and Essie were married one month later on May 30, 1920.  As noted below, Chancellor (as he was commonly called, rather than Josiah) and Christian, were children (issue) of Rev. S. G. Kennedy.  The Stephenson history reports the close family ties came as a result of closeness to the Stranmillis Tennis Club and the Presbyterian Church, which they attended.

It has been suggested that this photo depicts Josiah (Chancellor to his friends and family) in the Penticton are of British Columbia in 1916 or 1918. I must presume that the written date is 1918, after his release from the prisoner of war camp, as there are no records of him returning to Canada in 1916.

I only recall meeting Grandfather Kennedy once in 1957, as a young lad, and shortly before he passed on.  Auntie Peg (son Guiler's wife) kindly sent this photo to me in June 2005.  More may follow as the B.C. relatives search through the family archives.



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