Lettice Huggins née Kennedy (1718–1797)

Lettice Kennedy was the daughter of the Rev. John Kennedy (1683–1761). Her father was second in a line of eminent Presbyterian ministers: he was licensed to preach in 1707, and called to the Benburb congregation, in county Tyrone, in 1714. Two of Lettice's five brothers were also licensed to preach, two appear to have died young, while the fifth was an apothecary. Lettice had four sisters—Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Sarah—for whom, sad to relate, no trace has been found in the records.

In 1739, the Rev. John Kennedy formalized a deed poll with John Huggins, sen., of Glenarb townland, parish of Aghaloo, to contract the marriage between John Huggins, jun., and Lettice. By that agreement, the Rev. John Kennedy agreed to a dower of £100, and John Huggins, sen. bestowed upon his son the family's leasehold interests in large acreages in Glenarb and Kedew townlands, and the interest income from a debt instrument. [1]

Between 1739 and 1756—her husband dying in the latter year—Lettice bore nine children. Church records, which do not survive from the mid-1700s, cannot supply the names of these children. Rather, several documents filed with the Registry of Deeds, and an Abstract of Lettice's will, dated 1797, name various of their offspring at different dates.

The most useful example is the renewal, in 1762, of the leasehold for Glenarb (set previously in 1731) for the land held at Glenarb. By their signatures and seals, Lettice Huggins and her son, John, declared that they concluded this agreement in Trust "for the use and to the profit and Behalf of James Huggins, Kennedy Huggins, Thomas Huggins, William Huggins, Elizabeth Huggins, Galbraith Huggins, Anne* Huggins, and Joseph Huggins Sons and Daughters of John Huggins Late of Glenorbe Decd and the [P?] Lettice." [2]

On the eve of her son John's marriage to Jean Thompson in August 1772, Lettice granted the leasehold interests in Drumnacanver and Lisglin (which she had renewed in 1759), in the county Armagh, and in Kedew and Glenarb townlands, into John's possession, in consideration of £950 payment. This deed was transacted with the express provision that no "Let or Interruption" should occur to Lettice Huggins or her children, Gilbert, Elizabeth, and Ann.* [3] Absent from this deed were the names of Lettice's sons, James, Kennedy, Thomas, William, and Joseph. Four of these are known to have struck off on their own (the subjects of biographical sketches in the works). However, an ominous note is sounded for Kennedy, by the appearance of his name entered into the index to prerogative wills in 1772. [4]

Late in life, Lettice Huggins appears to have returned to the Kennedy family home in Gortnaglush. The 1796 renewal of the leasehold in Glenarb was executed by her daughter-in-law, (by then, also widowed) Jane Huggins née Thompson; and, Lettice died at Gortnaglush, as remarked in the gracious death notice published in the 31st July 1797 edition of the Belfast News-Letter

      On Saturday morning, the 22d instant, at
   Gornaglush [sic], in the 79th year of her age,
   Mrs. Huggins, who, in the several stages and
   states of life, as virgin, wife, and widow,
   supported a most amiable and worthy character. [5]

When Lettice Huggins' will was probated on the 20th November 1797, just three children were listed in the abstract compiled by Sir Bernard Burke: John "of Glenorbe," Agnes (*in previous documents, listed as Anne), and Elizabeth. [6] The inclusion of John in this list suggests that Lettice composed her last will and testament before his death in 1795. Both of Lettice's daughters had married and were raising their families nearby. However, three more of her sons had predeceased her: James had died in India (and possibly, also Gilbert), Thomas in America, and John at home. Just William is known to have survived his mother, and the death knell would ring for him in a scant five years' time.

In spite of the grim reaper's harvest of her children, Lettice Huggins' legacy included many grandchildren: ten born of her son John's marriage, at Glenarb, four to William, in the parish of Desertcreat, near Cookstown, two to James in India, and one to Thomas in America. Each of these branches, and those of their sisters, have been fruitful, not only in terms of progeny, but also by the very interesting stories that a study of their lives has revealed.


  1. Registry of Deeds, Ireland. Huggins (and Kennedy) to Huggins. Memorial no. 137-440-93968, registered 3 March 1749. Copy on microfilm at the PRONI, Belfast, ref. MIC/311/89 (accessed 2003-11).
  2. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Lord Charlemont to Huggins. PRONI ref. D2433/A/45/1 & /2 & /5, dated 30 July 1762 (accessed 2003-11).
  3. (a) Registry of Deeds, Ireland. Huggins to Huggins. Memorial no. 290-482-193815, dated 27 November 1772. Copy on microfilm at the PRONI, Belfast, ref. MIC/311/237, memorial no. 193815 (accessed 2003-11). (b) Registry of Deeds, Ireland. Huggins and Thompson. Memorial no. 289-567-192410, dated 22 August 1822. Copy on microfilm at the PRONI, Belfast (2003-11).
  4. Prerogative Office, Index to Grants of, 1595-1810. Public Record Office Northern Ireland, Belfast. On microfilm, PRONI ref. MIC7/12B (accessed 2003-11): Prerogative Office - Index to grants of administration, probates of wills, marriage licences and notary public faculties, Vol. VIII, Names F–J.
  5. Belfast News-Letter, 31 July 1797. Death notice for Mrs. (Lettice) Huggins, widow of John. On microfilm, held by Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (accessed 2004-02). Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Irish Pedigrees for Families with Surnames Beginning, HOL – IRV. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. PRONI ref. T559/24 (accessed 2003-11). Note: The original document does not survive.

If you have a family history connection to either the Huggins family of Glenarb, parish of Aghaloo, or the Kennedy family from Carland or Gortnaglush, parish of Donaghmore, in county Tyrone—or if you have information to add to the biographical sketch presented here—please consider getting in touch via the contact page.

Return to Kennedy of Carland index page.
Return to Biographical sketches, outlines, and timelines index page.

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© Alison Kilpatrick, 2015. All rights reserved.
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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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