Kene History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The proud Kene 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 Kene 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 Kene family

The surname Kene 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 Kene family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kene 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 Kene History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kene 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 Kene family (pre 1700)

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


United States Kene migration to the United States +

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

Kene Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Sir Thomas Kene, who arrived in America in 1625 [5]
  • Christopher Kene, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1658 [5]
  • Owen Kene, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [5]


  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)


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