Little is known of William Kennedy’s early life, except that he was the brother of Oliver Kennedy, and that by the 1710s, the Kennedy brothers were living in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados.
In 1725, the Court of Common Pleas of Barbados declared that George Nicholas owed Oliver Kennedy a sum of over £1100. Nicholas also owed money to a number of other creditors. Although he was wealthy enough to own a 316-acre sugar plantation (now known as St. Nicholas’ Abbey) and 130 slaves, Nicholas took great pains to avoid paying his debts, eventually leaving Barbados, having been accused of carrying out a fraudulent scheme with “one Joseph Dottin (“To the Kings most Excellent Majesty in Council,” p. 5).
According to testimony by William Kennedy, Nicholas avoided paying his debts to Oliver Kennedy and others, and enriched Joseph Dottin. The case was further complicated by William Kennedy’s appointment, sometime before 1727, to the position of Deputy Provost Marshal General of Barbados and Deputy Marshal of the Common Plea Courts, which opened Kennedy up to the charge of tampering with records concerning the case, though formal charges were not made until 1748. Dottin died in 1735, and the plantation and slaves eventually passed to his daughter Christian, the wife of John Gay Alleyne (1724-1801), a notable planter and politician. William Kennedy maintained that the Kennedys had not been satisfactorily compensated for the debt, and that Dottin’s heirs, the Alleynes, now owed them money.
The conflict was renewed when, in 1748, Alleyne formally accused William Kennedy of destroying records concerning the case during his tenure as the Deputy Provost Marshal of Barbados, which had ended in 1730. Alleyne alleged that in that year, Kennedy “had either destroyed or concealed” bills of sale for Nicholas’ slaves, which would allegedly have been in his office. Kennedy claimed that such records had never existed. The case was decided in favor of Alleyne in 1752, a decision which William Kennedy appealed to the British Privy Council in 1753. However, the outcome of his appeal is unknown, as is further information on William and Oliver Kennedy after the conclusion of the case.