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


The surname Keene originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Cathain" or "Mac Cathain."

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A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Keene include Keane, Kane, Kayne, Keaney, Keny, Keyne, O'Kane, O'Keane, O'Cahan, Cahan, Kean, O'Cain, McCloskey, McCluskey, McClaskey and many more.

First found in County Londonderry (Irish: Doire), a Northern Irish county also known as Derry, in the province of Ulster. At one time, the areas was named O'Cahan Country.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keene research. Another 259 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1196, 1617, 1641, 1644 and 1819 are included under the topic Early Keene History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 267 words (19 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keene Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Keene:

Keene Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Abraham Keene, who landed in Virginia in 1637
  • Eliza Keene, who landed in New England in 1638
  • John Keene, who landed in Massachusetts in 1638
  • Josias Keene, who arrived in New England in 1638
  • Sara Keene, who arrived in New England in 1638


Keene Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Jacob Keene, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1755

Keene Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Peter Keene, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816

Keene Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Mary Keene, who arrived in Quebec in 1826

Keene Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • George Keene arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asiatic" in 1849
  • Winnifred Keene, aged 22, a house servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry"

Keene Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Keene, aged 21, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • M. Keene arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1878

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  • William K. Keene, American Republican politician, Mayor of Belfast, Maine, 1916
  • S. W. Keene, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Luzerne County, 1870-71
  • Samuel B. Keene, American politician, Farmer-Labor Candidate for Michigan State Senate 5th District, 1936
  • Nat M. Keene, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1956
  • Joseph R. Keene, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, 1979-81
  • Jack E. Keene, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for Delegate to Michigan State Constitutional Convention from Genesee County 1st District, 1961
  • Frederick E. Keene (b. 1860), American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Philadelphia County, 1907-09
  • Francis Bowler Keene (b. 1856), American politician, U.S. Consul in Florence, 1903-05; Geneva, 1905-15; U.S. Consul General in Zurich, 1915-17; Rome, 1917-24
  • David Keene, American politician, Mayor of Carbondale, Illinois, 1969
  • Charles H. Keene, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Onondaga County 3rd District, 1935; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1940, 1952, 1956, 1960

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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: Felis demulcta mitis
Motto Translation: A stroked cat is gentle.

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  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  4. 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).
  5. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  9. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  10. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  11. ...

The Keene Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keene 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 March 2016 at 06:57.

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