He was born at Dover. He was educated at Westminster School and at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where, while an undergraduate, he published several translations of Latin works, including Erasmus' In Praise of Folly.
Kennett was vicar of Ambrosden, Oxfordshire from 1685 until 1708. During his incumbency he returned to Oxford as tutor and vice-principal of St. Edmund Hall, where he gave considerable impetus to the study of antiquities. George Hickes gave him lessons in Old English. In 1695 he published Parochial Antiquities. In 1700 he became rector of St Botolph's Aldgate, London, and in 1701 Archdeacon of Huntingdon.
For a eulogistic sermon on the recently deceased William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, Kennett was in 1707 recommended to the deanery of Peterborough. He afterwards joined the Low Church party, strenuously opposed the Sacheverell movement, and in the Bangorian controversy supported with great zeal and considerable bitterness the side of Bishop Hoadly. His intimacy with Charles Trimnell, bishop of Norwich, who was high in favor with George I of Great Britain, secured for him in 1718 the bishopric of Peterborough. He died at Westminster in December 1728.
Kennett published in 1698 an edition of Sir Henry Spelman's History of Sacrilege, and he was the author of fifty-seven printed works, chiefly tracts and sermons. He wrote the third volume (Charles I-Anne) of the composite Compleat History of England (1706), and a more detailed and valuable Register and Chronicle of the Restoration. He was much interested in the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
- Life of Bishop White Kennett (1730) written by the Rev. William Newton (anonymous)
- John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes
- Isaac Disraeli, Calamities of Authors
- G. V. Bennett (1957) White Kennett 1660–1728, Bishop of Peterborough
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
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|Bishop of Peterborough