Kennedy, John

Kennedy, John
SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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b. 4 July 1769 Knocknalling, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland
d. 30 October 1855 Ardwick Hall, Manchester, England
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Scottish cotton spinner and textile machine maker.
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Kennedy was the third son of his father, Robert, and went to the village school in Dalry. On his father's death, he was sent at the age of 14 to Chowbent, Lancashire, where he was apprenticed to William Cannan, a maker of textile machines such as carding frames, Hargreaves's jennies and Arkwright's waterframes. On completion of his apprenticeship in 1791, he moved to Manchester and entered into partnership with Benjamin and William Sandford and James M'Connel, textile machine makers and mule spinners. In 1795 this partnership was terminated and one was made with James M'Connel to form the firm M'Connel \& Kennedy, cotton spinners.
Kennedy introduced improvements for spinning fine yarns and the firm of M'Connel \& Kennedy became famous for the quality of these products, which were in great demand. He made the spindles turn faster during the second part of the mule carriage's outward draw, and from 1793 onwards he experimented with driving mules by steam engines. Like William Kelly at New Lanark, he succeeded in making the spinning sequences power-operated by 1800, although the spinner had to take over the winding on. This made the mule into a factory machine, but it still required skilled operators. He was also involved with Henry Houldsworth, Junior, in the improvement of the roving frame. In 1803 Kennedy joined the Manchester Literary \& Philosophical Society, to which he presented several papers, including one in 1830 on "A memoir of Samuel Crompton". He retired from the spinning business in 1826, but continued his technical and mechanical pursuits. He was consulted about whether the Liverpool \& Manchester Railway should have moving or stationary steam engines and was an umpire at the Rainhill Trials in 1829.
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Further Reading
Dictionary of National Biography.
W.Fairbairn, obituary, Manchester Memoirs, Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society.
C.H.Lee, 1972, A Cotton Enterprise 1795–1840. A History of M'Connel \& Kennedy, Fine
Cotton Spinners, Manchester (an account of Kennedy's spinning business). R.L.Hills, 1970, Power in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester (provides details of Kennedy's inventions on the mule).
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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