John Hutton Fisher Kendall was the son of the Reverend W. Kendall, Rector of Marake, Yorkshire by Mary, Daughter of the Reverend J. Fisher MA of Thrimby Hall, Westmoreland. Born at Bridlington on the 22 September 1815, he was educated for the Church at St. Bees Theological College and he was ordained Deacon in 1839 and a Priest in 1840. In the former year he was appointed Curate of Longwood near Huddersfield, and in 1841 Incumbent of Hutton Roof, Westmoreland. For a short time he was also Curate of Kirby Lonsdale. In 1845 he became Curate of Guiseley, and four years later he became Vicar of Little Holbeck. It was in 1855 that he was appointed Vicar of Holbeck where for twenty-three years he diligently ministered to his flock, and took an active part in all that concerned the welfare of the district.
However, apart from his labours as a clergyman, his memory will perhaps be cherished on account of the efforts he put forth in furtherance of the cause of elementary education in Leeds. His superintendence of one of the largest and best Day Schools in the Borough, the Messrs. Marshall’s in Holbeck, was proof of the great attention he had given to elementary teaching, and of the ability he possessed for school management.
The ratepayers appreciating this somewhat rare merit of his, they made a good choice when they elected him in November 1870 as one of the members of the first School Board. He had come forward as an Independent candidate, and he received 15,634 votes, of which 9,413 were from Holbeck. At the next election in November 1873, he was one of the candidates of the Church of England Party, and no fewer than 20,157 people polled in his favour. In 1876 there was practically no contest. During the time he sat on the Board he rendered valuable service in preparing and working that admirable organisation which has gained for the Institution a name second to none throughout the country. What he did in one Department alone should make him remembered by his fellow townsmen. In October 1871 he moved the appointment of a School Attendance Committee whose duty should be the framing of Bye-Laws, the of considering applications for relief from payment of School Fees, and the putting in force the Compulsory Powers of the Board. Under his Presidency, until his health failed him, this important work was done, and done with considerateness and success which have earned the Board no small credit.
Whereas during the six years ending in November 1876, no fewer than 8,000 parents were prosecuted for not sending their children to school in Birmingham, 6,000 in Manchester, and 6,800 in Liverpool, the total number of such prosecutions in Leeds was only 531; while the attendance at school in the Borough was increased from 22,000 to 50,000. When Mr. Jowitt was appointed Chairman of the Board in place of Sir Andrew Fairbairn, Kendall was elected Vice-Chairman in room of the first named gentleman. In politics Kendall was a Conservative and a vigorous supporter of his Party.
Mainly due to his efforts as the founder of the Holbeck Pitt Club, of which he was President, and as a platform speaker and lecturer, may be ascribed the reaction in favour of Conservatism which set in amongst the working men of Holbeck, as well as of the other parts of the Borough. Rev. Kendall was the author of ‘Lectures on the British Constitution’, ‘B. Disraeli’, ‘Loaf Bread’, ‘Letters on the Irish Church’, ‘National Education and the Established Church’, etc.
The first burial service at Holbeck Cemetery was carried out by Rev. Kendall Incumbent of St. Matthew’s Church on three month old Ruth Mathers on the 2 July 1857; the day after the Cemetery had first opened. He is also buried here.
Unfortunately, Kendall some five years before his death was badly shaken by being blown against a wall at his Vicarage during a violent storm and never really recovered from his experience. He was frequently unable to take the full share of his duties of the Parish, and his seat at the School Board, of which he was a member, has been often, to his great regret vacant. Only days before his death Mr. Kendall was overcome by weakness and exhaustion, he became much worse and Dr. Jessop was called to attend, he saw that there was no hope of the Reverend Gentleman’s recovery and he died on the Saturday, 8 February 1879 aged 63.
This post was written by Ken Burton using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.