Edward Kenealy

Edward Vaughan Hyde Kenealy QC (2 July 1819 – 16 April 1880) was an Irish barrister and writer. He is best remembered as counsel for the Tichborne claimant[1] and the eccentric and disturbed conduct of the trial that led to his ruin.

Edward Kenealy at the Tichborne trial

Early lifeEdit

He was born at Cork, the son of a local merchant. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1840 and to the English Bar in 1847. He obtained a fair practice in criminal cases. In 1868 he became a QC and a bencher of Gray's Inn.[1]

He practised on the Oxford circuit and in the Central Criminal Court and his most famous cases included:[2]

Private lifeEdit

Kenealy suffered from diabetes and an erratic temperament has sometimes been attributed to poor control of the symptoms.[2] In 1850 he was sentenced to one month imprisonment for punishing his six-year-old illegitimate son with undue severity. He married Elizabeth Nicklin of Tipton, Staffordshire in 1851 and they had eleven children,[2] including novelist Arabella Kenealy (1864–1938). The Kenealy family lived in Portslade, East Sussex, from the 1852 until 1874. Edward Kenealy commuted to London and Oxford for his law practice but returned at weekends and other times to be with his family.[3][4]

In 1850, he published an eccentric poem inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe, a New Pantomime.[5] He also published a large amount of poetry in journals such as Fraser's Magazine. He published translations from Latin, Greek, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Irish, Persian, Arabic, Hindustani and Bengali. It is unlikely that he was fluent in all these languages


In 1866, Kenealy wrote The Book of God: the Apocalypse of Adam-Oannes, an unorthodox theological work in which he claimed that he was the "twelfth messenger of God", descended from Jesus Christ and Genghis Khan.[2]

He also published a more conventional biography of Edward Wortley Montagu in 1869.[2]

The Tichborne caseEdit

During the trial, Kenealy abused witnesses, made scurrilous allegations against various Roman Catholic institutions, treated the judges with disrespect, and protracted the trial until it became the longest in English legal history. His violent conduct of the case became a public scandal[1] and, after rejecting his client's claim, the jury censured his behaviour.[2]

The aftermathEdit

He started a newspaper, The Englishman, to plead his cause, and to attack the judges. His behaviour was so extreme that in 1874 he was disbenched and disbarred by his Inn.[1] He formed the Magna Charta Association and went on a nationwide tour to protest his cause.

At a by-election in 1875, he was elected to Parliament for Stoke-upon-Trent with a majority of 2000 votes. However, no other Member of Parliament would introduce him when he took his seat.[1] Benjamin Disraeli forced a motion to dispense with this convention.[2][6]

In Parliament, Kenealy called for a Royal Commission into his conduct in the Tichborne case, but lost a vote on this by 433–3. One vote was Kenealy's, another that of his teller, George Hammond Whalley. The third "aye" was by Purcell O'Gorman of Waterford City.[7] During this period, he also wrote a nine-volume account of the case.

Dr Kenealy, as he was always called, gradually ceased to attract attention,[1] lost his seat at the 1880 general election and died in London later in the year aged 60.[2] He is buried in the churchyard of St Helen's Church, Hangleton, East Sussex.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kenealy, Edward Vaughan Hyde". Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 728.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hamilton (2004)
  3. ^ Melville's Directory of Sussex, 1858
  4. ^ Kenealy. A. (ed.) (2006) [1908]."Memoirs of Edward Vaughn Kenealy. London: Kessinger. ISBN 1-4254-8405-0."
  5. ^ Waterhouse (1952)
  7. ^ THE QUEEN v. CASTRO—THE TRIAL AT BAR—ADDRESS FOR A ROYAL COMMISSION. HC Deb 23 April 1875 vol 223 cc1513-613
  8. ^ Dale, Antony (1989). Brighton Churches. London EC4. p. 227. ISBN 0-415-00863-8.CS1 maint: location (link)


External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Melly and
William Sargeant Roden
Member of Parliament for Stoke
With: Robert Heath
Succeeded by
Henry Broadhurst and
William Woodall