Kember History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The proud Kember family originated in Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. The Kember family originally lived in the county of Cornwall at South Kimber. [1] Alternatively, the name could have been an occupational name for 'the comber,' a wool-comber. [2]

Early Origins of the Kember family

The surname Kember was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D. West and East Kimber are in Devon and both parishes date back to shortly after the Conquest.

Early History of the Kember family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kember research. Another 275 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1327, 1643, 1793, 1711, 1818, 1617, 1779, 1545, 1642, 1662, 1692, 1755, 1719, 1769, 1742 and 1744 are included under the topic Early Kember History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kember Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Kimber, Kember and others.

Early Notables of the Kember family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Isaac Kimber (1692-1755), an English General Baptist minister, biographer, and journalist from Wantage, Berkshire. His son, Edward Kimber (1719-1769) was...
Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kember Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Kember migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Kember were found:

Kember Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Kember, who landed in Maryland in 1659 [3]

West Indies Kember migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [4]
Kember Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Dunston Kember, (b. 1614), aged 20, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [3]
  • Mr. Robert Kember, (b. 1611), aged 23, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Kember (post 1700) +

  • Stephen Dennis "Steve" Kember (b. 1948), English former footballer from Croydon, South London who played from 1965 to 1981 and managed from 1981 to 2003
  • Peter Kember (b. 1965), English musician and producer, founding member of alternative rock band Spacemen 3
  • Lorraine Kember (b. 1950), Australian author, blogger, caregiver advocate, and motivational speaker
  • Rosamond Jane "Ros" Kember (b. 1985), New Zealand cricketer who played three women's One Day Internationals for the New Zealand
  • Gerald Francis Kember (b. 1945), former New Zealand rugby union player
  • Reginald Walter "RW" Kember (b. 1983), South African rugby union footballer
  • Norman Frank Kember (b. 1931), Canadian-born, emeritus professor of biophysics at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry


The Kember Motto +

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: Frangas non flectes
Motto Translation: Thou may'st break, but shalt not bend me.


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies


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