Kenyon, Roger – Lancashire clerk of the peace

Roger Kenyon was a key figure in Lancashire politics in the 1680s and 1690s, using his office as clerk for the peace for the county to further the interests of local Tories. He was a long-time ally of the Earl of Derby and opponent of Lord Brandon. He was MP for Clitheroe from 1690-5. [1] His loyalty to James II was sorely tried in the period leading up to William of Orange’s invasion by the implications of the king’s reform of Tory administrations such as that in Preston:

[T]his ring of tories that congratulated the king in summer 1686 was the first to feel the impact of James’ anti-anglican policies in 1688. Roger Kenyon voiced the complaints of tories in his notes on ‘things which much dissatisfy His Majesty’s Protestant subjects’. Of these the second was ‘the extravagant methods practised by the new magistrates in the ancient loyal corporations, contrary to the express concessions in their charters, to the ruin of the boroughs [and] destructive to the government therof’. Charters, then, were the guarantees of tory rule and they were cast aside in favour of ‘new magistrates’. But the processes of building local tory regimes had been slow and organic, with a minimum of central control. It was the dismantling of those town governments that required the real state intervention through would-be intendants ‘regulators’ working under amenable aristocrats. Under James whig and catholic aristocrats were brought in against the tory corporations. Kenyon complained bitterly of Lord Brandon, the king’s whig ‘regulator of the Lancashire corporations [who] very unaccountably removed . . . the mayor of Preston, . . .’ [2]

A good account of Kenyon, especially in his often sympathetic dealings with Lancashire Catholics, can be found in Some Other People of the Penal Times by Brian Foley, the former Bishop of Lancaster. [3] In particular, he notes that Kenyon acted as solicitor for the accused, including Sir Thomas Clifton, in the ‘Lancashire Plot’ trial in 1694. [4]

[1] Eveline Cruickshanks and Richard Harrison, ‘Kenyon, Roger (c.1627-98), of Parkhead and Peel Hall, Lancs. | History of Parliament Online’, accessed 21 January 2017,
[2] Michael Mullett, ‘“To Dwell Together in Unity”: the Search for Unity in Preston Politics 1660-1690’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 125 (1975): 76–77,
[3] B. C. Foley, Some Other People of the Penal Times (Preston: Snape (Printer), 1992), 133–41.
[4] Foley, 135.