Charles Rann Kennedy

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Charles Rann Kennedy (1808 – 17 December 1867) was an English lawyer and classicist, best remembered for his involvement in the Swinfen will case and the issues of contingency fee agreements and legal ethics that it involved.


Kennedy was born in Birmingham, son of Rann Kennedy, and the younger brother of Benjamin Hall Kennedy. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated as senior classic (1831)[1] and was elected fellow. He entered Lincoln's Inn, was called to the bar in 1835, became a barrister, and settled at Birmingham. From 1849-1856 he was professor of law at Queen's College, Birmingham (a predecessor college of Birmingham University).[2]

In his academic role, he advised the judge Lord Denman in the important parliamentary privilege case of Stockdale v. Hansard.[3] As counsel to Mrs Swinfen, the plaintiff in the celebrated will case Swinfen v. Swinfen (1856), he brought an action for remuneration for professional services, but the verdict given in his favour at Warwick assizes was set aside by the court of Common Pleas, on the ground that a barrister could not sue for the recovery of his fees.[2]


  • New Rules for Pleading (2nd ed., 1841)
  • Poems, Original and Selected (1843)
  • A Treatise on Annuities (1846)
  • Works of Virgil, in blank verse, written in conjunction with his father (2 vols., 1850)
  • Specimens of Greek and Latin Verse (1853)
  • Orations of Demosthenes, translated into English, with notes, appendices, etc. (5 vols., 1841–63, in Bohn's Classical Library)
  • Hannibal, a poem, part i. (1866)


His grandson, also named Charles Rann Kennedy (1871–1950), was a playwright and actor who married actress Edith Wynne Matthison. His older brother was classicist Benjamin Hall Kennedy.[2]


  1. ^ "Kennedy, Charles Rann (KNDY827CR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ a b c [Anon.] (1911)
  3. ^ Pue (1990) p.62


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