Mr John Kennedy1 was born at White Wine Lane in Limerick City, Co Limerick, Ireland on 6 November 18872.
He was the son of Thomas Kennedy (b. circa 1848), a general labourer, and Mary Fanning (b. circa 1850), both Limerick natives who had married around 1869 and was one of thirteen children born to his parents, five surviving infancy.
His known siblings were: Mary (b. 14 November 1869), Michael (b. 26 December 1871), Bridget (b. 20 September 1874), Margaret (b. 31 March 1877), Bridget (b. 15 August 1879), Thomas (b. 20 November 1883) and Ellen (b. 9 December 1891).
John appears on the 1901 and 1911 censuses living with his family at Rosemary Place in Limerick City, by the time of the latter record being described as an unmarried shop porter.
His brother Michael emigrated to New York around 1902 and was married there in August 1904 to Mary Fitzgerald and with her had four children by 1912; it was John's intention to join his brother there at his home on Perry Street, Manhattan.
Kennedy boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 368783 which cost £7, 15s). It would appear he was travelling alone but was carrying across the Atlantic several gifts from his homeland to relatives in New York, including Irish Whiskey and Limerick ham and bacon and items of children's clothing, presumably intended for his niece and nephews.
John Kennedy survived the sinking but how he is escaped remains mysterious and it is likely he left in one of the aft-starboard lifeboats and came away unscathed.
Coming off the Carpathia in New York John Kennedy was described as a 21-year-old picture framer, giving the name of his nearest relatives as his parents at 1 Rosemary Place, Limerick, and stating his destination as to the home of his brother Michael at 29 Perry Street. From that address he lodged a claim for compensation, which included clothing such as a serge suit, blue coat, a watch and chain, a brooch, children's garments, shoes, a set of china, a pipe, prayer books, rosaries and Irish whiskey and hams and bacon. He also sued $500 for personal injuries and the claim totalled at £533, 7s.
John stayed in New York and never married and it appears remained living with his brother and his family but details about the next few years of his life are largely unknown.
Kennedy was drafted into the US military and began service on 26 May 1918; his address was listed as 7 Fourth Place, Brooklyn and was sent for training to Camp Hancock, Richmond County, Georgia. His training proved brief and after just over a week he fell ill. It was determined that he had contracted anthrax, transmitted from his shaving brush.
After lingering for four days, John Kennedy died on 9 June 1918; his closest relative was his brother Michael, also of 7 Fourth Place, Brooklyn.
PVT. KENNEDY DIES
IN BASE HOSPITAL
Private John Kennedy, aged 25 years, of Company 21, machine gun training camp, died at the Base Hospital, Camp Hancock, at 2:05 Sunday afternoon. Kennedy lately came to Camp Hancock from his home, Brooklyn, N. Y.
The body is now at the R. E. Elliott funeral home awaiting burial instructions. - Augusta Chronicle, 10 June 1918, page 3
His hermetically sealed coffin was returned to his brother in Brooklyn.