Alfred Santer Kennard, 1870-1948

By A Wrigley

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, Volume 23, p. 20
Alfred Kennard. Portrait taken about 1935

ALFRED SANTER KENNARD, who died at Beckenham on 11 June 1948, came of Kentish stock but was born in London (5 July 1870), where he lived and worked all his life. He was educated at the City of London School and then became employed in a large City warehouse, remaining there until his retirement and surviving its complete destruction by German bombs. Without any academic training, he acquired his knowledge of living things in the best of all ways, by companionship with those, young and old, of like interests. With a strong leaning towards the antique – old books, ancient buildings, obsolete customs, primeval men – it was no wonder that he was attracted to the study of those long departed lives so well represented around London by fossil Mollusca. Rightly to know the remains of the dead one must understand the living, so he combined an active membership of both Geological and Conchological Societies, becoming a life member of the latter in 1897. His earlier life was in a time when the great antiquity of man was almost an enthralling novelty, not asserted as a dogma but supported by proofs, like the occurrence in the gravels left by an earlier Thames, when it flowed 100 feet above its present level, of human artefacts associated with bones and shells of extinct animals. The Mollusca of these Pleistocene and Holocene deposits became his lifelong study, recorded in numerous papers and in appendices to the labours of others. Things are hardly distinguished until they are named, but here one enters very thorny, tortuous thickets. Kennard, in long association with B. B. Woodward, laboured hard at the nomenclature of our land and freshwater mollusca, their conclusions being published in by the British Museum (Natural History) as a Synonomy of the British Non-Marine Mollusca (Recent and Post-Tertiary). What to many would have been a distasteful, dry as dust search through forgotten volumes became Kennard’s delight by his love for old books especially when they had been personally bought for a few pence on London book barrows. Like most genuine searchers for a knowledge of nature, he was glad to impart it; this was evident in his Presidency of the London branch of our Society where a small band gathered to exhibit and discuss their collections.

Living to a reminiscent old age, he became a valuable repository of the traditions of our study and a link with the gone but not forgotten collectors and students of a past generation. He was our President in 1927—28 and presided over the Malacological Society in 1922—25 and over the Geologists’ Association in 1944—46. He was honoured by receiving the Prestwich Medal of the Geological Society of London and the Foulerton award of the Geologists’ Association, and by being elected an Associate (honoris causa) of the Linnean Society.

Complementary notices will appear in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association and of the Malacological Society. The latter has Kennard’s portrait as a frontispiece to volume 18 (1928), which well expresses a kindly, humorous and thoughtful man.