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

Origins Available: English, German


When the ancestors of the Kemp family arrived in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066, they brought their name with them. It is a name for a champion at jousting or wrestling. In medieval England, the joust was used to train feudal knights for battle. Checking further we found the name was derived from the Middle English word kempe, which is a derivative of the Old English word cempa, which means warrior or champion. [1]

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Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Kemp, Kempe and others.

First found in Wiltshire, where one of the first records of the name was Eadulf Cempa in 902. Years later, Edmund Kempe was listed in Norfolk c. 1100 and Ralph le Kemp was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1296 in Sussex. [1] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Alan Kempe in Suffolk and William Kempe in Oxfordshire. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list Ricardus Kempe and Johannes Kempe. [2] The parish of Slindon in Sussex was of great significance to the family. "Slindon House, the seat of the Countess Dowager of Newburgh, was originally built by one of the archbishops of Canterbury, and was for some time the residence of the celebrated Archbishop Langton, who died here in the reign of Henry III.; the present mansion, erected by Sir George Kemp in the reign of Elizabeth, is a handsome structure, on a bold eminence." [3] The parish of Wye in Kent was another ancient family seat. "The church was rebuilt by John Kemp, a native of the parish, who was first preferred to the bishopric of Rochester, and, having successively presided over several other sees, was lastly translated to the archbishopric of Canterbury and made cardinal. In 1447, he founded a college here for a master, or provost, and Secular canons, dedicated to St. Gregory and St. Martin. Olantigh, in the parish, was formerly the seat of the family of Kemp, and is supposed to have been the birthplace of Archbishop Kemp, and also of his nephew, Thomas Kemp, Bishop of London." [3]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kemp research. Another 297 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1380, 1450, 1780, 1380, 1454, 1594, 1599, 1373, 1438 and are included under the topic Early Kemp History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 145 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kemp Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Kemp family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Kemp or a variant listed above:

Kemp Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • William Kemp settled in Virginia in 1624 with his wife Margaret and son Anthony
  • Humfrey Kemp settled in Bermuda in 1635
  • Edward Kemp, aged 29, landed in Barbados in 1635
  • Humfrey Kemp, aged 16, arrived in Bermuda in 1635
  • Isack Kemp, aged 23, landed in Virginia in 1635


Kemp Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Wilhelm Kemp, who arrived in New York in 1709-1710
  • Hugh Kemp, who landed in Jamaica in 1730
  • Casper Kemp, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1734
  • Dewald Kemp, who arrived in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1743
  • Christian Kemp, who landed in Maryland in 1746-1747


Kemp Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Ceaser Kemp, aged 24, arrived in Key West, Fla in 1837
  • Adam Kemp, aged 22, landed in Key West, Fla in 1837
  • Rebecca Kemp, aged 16, landed in Key West, Fla in 1838
  • Sarah Kemp, aged 38, landed in Key West, Fla in 1838
  • Asemit Kemp, aged 1, landed in Key West, Fla in 1839


Kemp Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • William Kemp, who landed in Quebec in 1784
  • Mr. Kemp James U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1784
  • Mr. Kemp John U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John West], New Brunswick, Canada c. 1784
  • Mr. Kemp John Sr., U.E., "Kempt" (b. 1723) born in Maryland, USA from Albany, New York, USA who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1784 he enlisted in 1780 serving in the Kings Rangers, married to Anne Van Vorst they had 5 children, he died in 1795
  • Mr. Kemp Joseph U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1784


Kemp Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Aaron Kemp, who arrived in Canada in 1830

Kemp Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Henry Kemp, English convict from Essex, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Joseph Kemp, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • William Kemp arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Planter" in 1839
  • Mary Kemp arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Planter" in 1839
  • Elijah Kemp arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Baboo" in 1840


Kemp Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • J Kemp landed in Keri Keri, New Zealand in 1836
  • Hy Tracy Kemp landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Thomas Kemp landed in Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Charles Kemp arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Pegasus" in 1865
  • J. Kemp arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Viscount Canning" in 1865


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  • Helen Hubbert Kemp (1918-2015), American voice teacher, church music pedagogue, composer, and children's choir clinician
  • Wayne Kemp (1941-2015), American country music singer
  • Earl Kemp (b. 1929), American Hugo Award winning publisher, science fiction editor and critic
  • Daniel "Dan" Kemp (1927-2000), American actor, best known for his many roles in television westerns
  • C. E. Kemp, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Arkansas, 1960
  • Bolivar Edwards Kemp (1871-1933), American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Louisiana, 1920; U.S. Representative from Louisiana 6th District, 1925-33
  • Benjamin R. Kemp (1830-1864), American politician, Member of Indiana State House of Representatives, 1863
  • Andrew Kemp, American Democrat politician, Supervisor of Monguagon Township, Michigan; Elected 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901
  • Amanda Kemp, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1988
  • Alfreda Kemp, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1996

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  • Heistand Family History by Barbara Hiestand Moore.
  • Kemp Family Records by Thomas J. Kemp.
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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: Lucem spero
Motto Translation: I hope for light.

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  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  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. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  7. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Kemp Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kemp 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 25 April 2016 at 12:15.

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