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     Michael Arthur
     David Smith
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     Michael Staples
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KENNY, Alexander Sylvester John


Early Life

Alexander’s parents were Alexander Sylvester Kenny and Sophia Kenny, née Green.

The birth of Sophia Green was registered in the June quarter of 1874 in Bethnal Green.

She was baptised on 26th of April 1874 at St James the Great Church, Bethnal Green. She was born on 29th of March 1874. Her father was James Green. The family were living at 3 Old Bethnal Green Road.

Alexander S. and Sophia were married on the 8th of July 1894 at St Philip’s Church, Bethnal Green. He was 22, a French polisher, living at 259 Bethnal Green Road, and she was 21, living at 8 Ramsey Street, Bethnal Green. The wedding was witnessed by James and Annie Kenny.

Marriage July 8th 1894, Alexander Sylvester Kenny to Sophia Green

Alexander, the subject of the story, was born on 13th of November 1894 in Bethnal Green. He was baptised in St Peter’s Church on 2nd of December 1894. His father’s occupation is listed as a ‘polisher’.

2 Dec 1894 – Baptism Alexander Sylvester John Kenny

On 29 Sept, 1896, James William Kenny had been born into the family and was baptised at the same church on 18th October 1896, by the same minister. Unfortunately, James William’s death was registered in the same quarter of the same year.

18 Oct 1896 – Baptism of James William Kenny

On Jan 1, 1899, Alexander and Sophia had their third son Joseph Sylvester baptised, again at St. Peter’s church, showing Joseph’s birth as 4 Dec 1898.


The birth of a fourth son, named Albert Alfred, is registered in Q1-1901, however no baptism record has yet been found. Maybe he was never baptised?

In the 1901 Census, the family was at 71 Virginia Road, Bethnal Green. Alexander S. Kenny was head of the household, aged 28, a French Polisher. His wife Sophia was 27. At the time the census was taken they had three sons, our Alexander S. J., aged 6, Joseph J.?, aged 2, and Albert A., aged 2 months. Alexander Senior was listed as having been born in Whitechapel and the rest of the family were born in Bethnal Green.

  • There appears to be a discrepancy with Joseph being listed as Joseph J, as opposed to the baptism record showing Joseph S(ylvester). We cannot find a birth record for a Joseph Sylvester Kenny, but there is a birth record for a ‘Joseph James Kenny’ registered in Bethnal Green in Q1-1899, however the mother’s maiden name is recorded as ‘Farmer’. We would need to check the original birth record for Joseph (Q1-1899-District-Bethnal-Green-vol.1c-pg.193) to clarify, but this looks correct. Joseph also uses the initial J. on later documents.

On 15th of April 1902, Alexander was admitted to Wilmot Street School, Bethnal Green age 7. He lived at 43 Finnis Street, Bethnal Green. The records is confirmed by birth date, and states his previous school being Daniel St. Bd. school. Daniel Street opened 1900 as a temporary centre for mentally defective children in boarding school.

On 1st of November 1907, Sophia Kenny, our Alexander’s mother, was admitted to the Croydon Mental Hospital. The hospital was opened in 1903 and in 1937 the name of the hospital was changed to the Warlingham Park Mental Hospital. Sophia was sent to the infirmary on 31st of October 1959.

Admitted Croydon 1 Nov 1907 – Discharged Rel’d 31 Oct 1959


In the 1911 Census, Alexander was living with his father and his 3 brothers at 39 Aske Street, Hoxton.

Alexander S. Kenny was the head of the household. He is listed as 38, married, and a French polisher. His sons are also listed, Alexander S. J., 16, an errand boy, Joseph J., 12, at school, Albert A., 10, at school, and Henry A., 7, at school. The Census form (completed by the Head of House) tells us that the parents had had 7 children, 3 of whom had died. The family lived in one room.

On 4th of September 1913, aged 18, Alexander was in the Hackney Union Workhouse. He was marked as “irremovable” (meaning he had been resident in the Parish for 5yrs+). He was still listed there in February 1914.

On 24th of November 1914, a “Lunatic Order” was issued by 2 JPs in London stating that on 30th of October 1914, Alexander Kenny, 22, a Pauper Lunatic, was sent by the Hackney Union Workhouse to the Lunatic Asylum at Long Grove, Epsom.

The online lunacy admission records do not go up to 1914 and so we do not have his admission record. Alexander died in Long Grove in August 1919. He was buried in Grave 26b on 1st September 1919.

Alexander’s parents

Mother, Sophia:

In the 1939 Register, Sophia was a patient in the Warlingham Park Mental Hospital. She was described as married and born in 1874, here occupation is ‘unpaid domestic duties’ (often meaning a housewife).

Sophia died in the June quarter of 1961 (South Eastern Surrey 5G 718). The South Eastern Surrey District covers Warlingham where Warlingham Park Mental Hospital is located.

Father, Alexander Sylvester

In the 1939 census, Alexander was living with Amelia Dennis, a widow and tailoress machinist. They were living at 165 Nisbet House, Hackney. He is still described as a French polisher, married, born 5th of May 1872.

Alexander Sylvester of 165 Nisbet House, Hackney died on 5th of January 1961.

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