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


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Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Kenys, Kemeys, Kemish, Kemis, Keymich and others.

First found in Gloucestershire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book, [1] indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Pickwick or Wickwar, held by Humphrey the Chamberlain, who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kemmis research. Another 289 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1510, 1600, 1543, 1617, 1641, 1648, 1614, 1658, 1678, 1673, 1702, 1689, 1702, 1688, 1735, 1713, 1715, 1716 and 1734 are included under the topic Early Kemmis History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 183 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kemmis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Kemmis or a variant listed above were:

Kemmis Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Elizabeth Kemmis, who landed in Maryland in 1659

Kemmis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Henry Kemmis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dumfries" in 1839
  • Mary Kemmis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dumfries" in 1839
  • Emily Kemmis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dumfries" in 1839
  • Louisa Kemmis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dumfries" in 1839
  • George Kemmis arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dumfries" in 1839


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  • Daniel Kemmis, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Montana, 2004


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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. 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).
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Kemmis Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kemmis 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 11 December 2015 at 10:37.

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