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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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.


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.'

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kennedy research. Another 491 words (35 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.


Another 179 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kennedy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Kennedy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 143 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Catherine Kennedy, who arrived in Maryland in 1678
  • David Kennedy, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Margaret Kennedy, who landed in Virginia in 1716
  • David Kennedy, who arrived in Boston in 1737
  • Janette Kennedy, who landed in Connecticut in 1741
  • Darby Kennedy, who arrived in America in 1742
  • Matthew Kennedy, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1747

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Peter Kennedy, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1802
  • Gilbert Kennedy, who arrived in Ohio in 1804
  • Hector Kennedy settled in Philadelphia in 1806
  • Rachel Kennedy, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Dennis Kennedy, aged 48, arrived in New York in 1812

Kennedy Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Mr. Kennedy Charles U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 191 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 28, 1783 at Staten Island, New York, USA
  • Mr. Kennedy Patrick U.E. born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA from Maryland, USA who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1783 he was a passenger aboard the ship Martha which wrecked before arriving at Saint Johns
  • Mr. Kennedy William U.E. (b. 1753) born in Somerset, Maryland, USA who settled in Sunbury County, New Brunswick c. 1783 then in 1799 Whitchurch, King township [Aurora] Ontario he enlisted in 1776 serving in the Queens Own Loyal Virginia Regiment and Prince of Wales Regiment under Captain Daniel Lyman
  • Mr. Kennedy David U.E. who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. Kennedy John U.E. who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1784

Kennedy Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Donald Kennedy, aged 45, a farmer, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • Margaret Kennedy, aged 35, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • Janet Kennedy, aged 10, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • John Kennedy, aged 8, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • Robert Kennedy, aged 6, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803

Kennedy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • William Henry Kennedy, English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Kennedy, English convict from Sussex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Mary Kennedy, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Janet Kennedy, Scottish convict from Perth, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Kennedy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838

Kennedy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Mark Kennedy landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Donald Kennedy landed in Kawakawa, New Zealand in 1840
  • J Kennedy landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Thomas Kennedy landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lady Nugent
  • Margaret Kennedy, aged 24, a servant, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841


  • George Harris Kennedy Jr. (1925-2016), American Academy Award winning actor who appeared in over 200 film and television productions, best remembered for portraying "Dragline" opposite Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke
  • Mrs. Caroline Carrie Kennedy (d. 1915), American 1st Class Passenger from New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking and was recovered
  • Raymond Louis "Ray" Kennedy (1946-2014), American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, based in Los Angeles
  • Mary Richardson Kennedy (1960-2012), American architect, estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr
  • Brigadier-General John Thomas Kennedy (1885-1969), American Commanding Officer Provisional Field Artillery Brigade (1941-1945)
  • Brigadier-General John Carroll Kennedy (1893-1977), American Commanding Officer, later Commanding General of the 69th Composite Wing, Kunming, China (1943-1945)
  • William Joseph Kennedy (b. 1928), American writer and journalist awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1984
  • President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (1917-1963), American politician and Motor Torpedo Boat Commander during World War II, 35th President of the United States until he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Donald Kennedy (b. 1931), American scientist, public administrator, and academic
  • Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932-2009), American politician, U.S. Senator and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom



  • Alford-Kennedy Family History by Eileen Alford.
  • Ancestors and Kin by Mary Kennedy Reynolds.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Avise la fin
Motto Translation: Consider the end.


Kennedy Clan Badge
Kennedy Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Kennedy
Carach, Carack, Carake, Carech, Careck, Carich, Carick, Carik, Caritch, Carock, Carox, Carrach, Carrack, Carrake, Carrech, Carreck, Carrich, Carrick, Carrig, Carrigg, Carrigy, Carrik, Carritch, Carrock, Carrox, Carryck, Carryke, Caryck, Caryke, Cassillis, Ceanaideach, Ceannaideach, Corrach, Corrack, Corrake, Correch, Correck, Corrick, Corrik, Corritch, Corrock, Corrox, Corryck, Corryke, Garrach, Garrack, Garrake, Garrech, Garreck, Garrick and more.


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  1. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  9. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  11. ...

The Kennedy Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kennedy Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 10 May 2016 at 03:47.

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