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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Kemmis family come from? What is the English Kemmis family crest and coat of arms? When did the Kemmis family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Kemmis family history?

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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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  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. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  5. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. 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.
  8. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  9. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  10. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. 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 4 September 2013 at 11:29.

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