Sergeant John Kendrick

Scope and Content

Copy (possibly made by Barnabus Shaw) of an account of the life of Sergeant John Kendrick of 21st Light Dragoons. The orginal was completed by Kendrick, shortly before his death, on 9 November 1813. His account begins with explaining his background, his former 'wicked' behaviour, his conversion to Methodism, his service in the Army (both at home and abroad, particularly South Africa) and his attempts to hold Methodist classes with his comrades in the Cape.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Kendrick was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, in 1778. The son of a sergeant in the British Army he also enlisted in 1797 with the Provincial Cavalry but was discharged two years later. Shortly afterwards he enlisted as a Sergeant (at one point becoming a Troop Sergeant Major) in the 21st Light Dragoons. He converted to Methodism whilst in Leeds, Yorkshire, under the guidance of the Rev George Morley.

Kendrick left for South in April 1806 arriving at the Cape in mid July. He was posted fairly quickly to Saldanha Bay and it was whilst stationed here that he made contact with George Middlemiss of 72nd Regiment, who had been enquiring as to the location of other Methodists in the British Army within South Africa. Kendrick began organising Methodist classes and by 1810 he had 50 members. Meetings in Cape Town were often held in the open air at the foot of Table Mountain whilst at Wynberg (in 1811) he used an empty barracks room as a place of worship but this proved unpopular with his superiors who took a dim view of his evangelical activities. This ultimately led to his relinquishing of the rank of Troop Sergeant Major (which he had attained in February 1810) in March 1812 although he and his comrades' religious observances were still discouraged. At around this time classes numbered about 140 members but stiff competition from Calvinists lead to a decline to around 75 members by the end of 1813. Kendrick's health also began to decline during 1813 until on 18 November (after an illness of twelve days) he died and was buried in the military cemetery at Green Point in Cape Town.

Kendrick had repeatedly wrote to the Wesleyan Methodist Church in London imploring them to send a minister to the Cape and this was finally agreed to by the Wesleyan Methodist Conference of 1814 when the Rev John M'Kenny was dispatched.

Further Reading:

Mears, W Gordon, Sergeant John Kendrick.

Conditions Governing Access

Only to be viewed on microfiche


Archivist's Note


Related Material

Also within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society are the letters written by Sergeant John Kendrick requesting for a minister to be sent to the Cape (MMS/West Africa/Correspondence/South Africa/FBN 1).