Kennedy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

  • Origins Available:
  • Ireland Ireland
  • Scotland Scotland

The saga of the name Kennedy begins with a Strathclyde-Briton family in the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a dour or serious person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Gaelic nickname Cinneididh, which translates as grim-headed. It is doubtful that there is any ancient relationship between the Irish Kennedys and the Scottish Clan.

The Irish Kennedy’s history dates back to about 900 AD, and there did not appear to be any direct relationship between the two families. However, in the 16th century, a sept of the Scottish Kennedy Clan did develop in Ulster, but they are undoubtedly migrants from Scotland, and had no previous link to the southern Irish Kennedys.

Early Origins of the Kennedy family

The surname Kennedy was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where the earliest record of them dates from 1185, during the reign of King William the Lion, when a Henry Kennedy was reported to have been involved in a rebellion in Galloway but died in battle.

The Kennedys derived from a branch of Celtic Earls of Galloway (not to be confused with Gallway, which is in Ireland). Their power and influence in that region was great. In fact, there is a rhyme handed down through clansmen and bards from the year 1300 which runs as follows: ‘Twixt Wigtown and the town of Ayr, Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree. No man need think to bide there, unless he court with Kennedy.’ [1]

Early History of the Kennedy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kennedy research. Another 246 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1170, 1296, 1513, 1406, 1437, 1646, 1406, 1480, 1451, 1508, 1513, 1509, 1513, 1527, 1515, 1558, 1541, 1576, 1573, 1615, 1668, 1653, 1701 and are included under the topic Early Kennedy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kennedy Spelling Variations

Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Kennedy has been spelled Kennedy, Kannady, Kenardy, Kennaday, Kenneday, Kenneyday, Kennediem, MacKennedy, MacUalraig (Gaelic) and many more.

Early Notables of the Kennedy family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Gilbert Kennedy, 1st Lord Kennedy (c. 1406-c. 1480); John Kennedy, 2nd Lord Kennedy (1451-1508); David Kennedy, 3rd Lord Kennedy (d. 1513) (created Earl of Cassilis in 1509); David Kennedy, 1st Earl of Cassilis (d. 1513); Gilbert Kennedy, 2nd Earl of Cassilis… Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kennedy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kennedy World Ranking

In the United States, the name Kennedy is the 137th most popular surname with an estimated 166,629 people with that name. [2] However, in Canada, the name Kennedy is ranked the 82nd most popular surname with an estimated 30,952 people with that name. [3] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Kennedy is the 36th popular surname with an estimated 600 people with that name. [4] Australia ranks Kennedy as 70th with 33,714 people. [5] New Zealand ranks Kennedy as 98th with 4,038 people. [6] The United Kingdom ranks Kennedy as 131st with 38,674 people. [7]

Migration of the Kennedy family to Ireland

Some of the Kennedy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kennedy migration to the United States +

Kennedy migration to Canada +

Kennedy migration to Australia +

Kennedy migration to New Zealand +

Contemporary Notables of the name Kennedy (post 1700) +

Historic Events for the Kennedy family +

Related Stories +

The Kennedy Motto +

Suggested Readings for the name Kennedy +

Citations +

Summary list Kennedy family crest best