Ken History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Ken history begins in Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. Quite distinct from Devon, the adjoining county, Cornwall had its own spoken language until the late 18th century. The Ken history began here. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames were derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. The Ken family originally lived in Devon or Somerset at the village of Kenn. Alternatively the name could have been a nickname as in "le ken" for one who keeps dogs derived from the Old French "chien."

Early Origins of the Ken family

The surname Ken was first found in Kenn in either Devon or Somerset. The latter, was "the place that was for many generations the property of the Ken family, of whose manorial residence, now modernised, the moat is still discernible. Thomas Ken, their descendant, was created Bishop of Bath and Wells by Charles II., and was one of the seven prelates sent to the Tower by James II." [1]

The first record of the family was Robert le Chein (Chen) who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1183 in Cornwall. Willelmus Chen, Canis was listed in the Liber Feodorum in Essex in 1212 and 1219. Henry le Kenne was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1337. [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: Walter le Ken in Oxfordshire; Eborard le Ken in Cambridgeshire; and Thomas le Chene in Norfolk. Kirby's Quest lists both John de Ken and Walter de Ken in Somerset during the first year's reign of Edward I. [3] [4]

Early History of the Ken family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ken research. Another 180 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1170, 1086, 1176, 1332, 1685, 1753, 1637 and 1711 are included under the topic Early Ken History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ken 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 Kenn, Ken, Kenne and others.

Early Notables of the Ken family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Ken Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Ken migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Ken

Ken Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward, Henry and Richard Ken, who, who sailed to Virginia in 1654
  • Edward Ken, who landed in Virginia in 1654 [5]
  • Hen Ken, who landed in Virginia in 1654 [5]
  • Richard Ken, who arrived in Virginia in 1654 [5]
Ken Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Ken, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [5]
  • Fredrick Ken, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1753 [5]
  • Adam Ken to Charles Town, South Carolina in 1764
  • Lebreght Ken to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1786
  • Lefreght Ken, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1786 [5]
Ken Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Ken, aged 28, who landed in New York, NY in 1822 [5]
  • Abraham Ken, aged 60, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1860 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Ken (post 1700) +

  • Sergeant Murray Ken Hudson (1938-1974), New Zealand soldier awarded the George Cross
  • Ken Wahl (b. 1954), American retired television actor, popular in the 1980s and 1990s, best known for his role in the CBS television crime drama Wiseguy
  • Ken Nightingall (1927-2020), British sound engineer, nicknamed Pink Shorts Boom Guy after an image surfaced in 2015 of him working as a boom operator on Star Wars: A New Hope and wearing only pink shorts
  • Ken Burmeister (1947-2020), American college basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas
  • Ken Danby CM, O.Ont (1940-2007), Canadian realist painter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Ken Nordine (1920-2019), American voice-over and recording artist, best known for his series of word jazz albums
  • Ken Eberts (b. 1943), American painter, best known for his automotive art genre, Ford Motor Company's official Centennial Artist in 2003
  • Ken Kelsch, American cinematographer and actor, known for Bad Lieutenant (1992), The Funeral (1996) and 100 Feet (2008)
  • Ken Wood (d. 2018), Australian swimmer and swimming coach and a three-time Olympic medal winner
  • Ken Hands (1926-2017), Australian rules footballer for Carlton (1959-1964)

  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ 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) on Facebook
Fastest Delivery Possible

Digital Products on Checkout, all other products filled in 1 business day

Money Back
Money Back Guarantee

Yes, all products 100% Guaranteed

BBB A+ Rating

The Best Rating possible

Secure Online Payment

Entire site uses SSL / Secure Certificate