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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Kennedy family come from? What is the Scottish Kennedy family crest and coat of arms? When did the Kennedy family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Kennedy family history?

The saga of the name Kennedy begins with a Strathclyde-Briton family in the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a dour or serious person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Gaelic nickname Cinneididh, which translates as grim-headed. It is doubtful that there is any ancient relationship between the Irish Kennedys and the Scottish Clan. The Irish Kennedy's history dates back to about 900 AD, and there did not appear to be any direct relationship between the two families. However, in the 16th century, a sept of the Scottish Kennedy Clan did develop in Ulster, but they are undoubtedly migrants from Scotland, and had no previous link to the southern Irish Kennedys.


Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Kennedy has been spelled Kennedy, Kannady, Kenardy, Kennaday, Kenneday, Kenneyday, Kennediem, MacKennedy, MacUalraig (Gaelic) and many more.

First found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where the earliest record of them dates from 1185, during the reign of King William the Lion, when a Henry Kennedy was reported to have been involved in a rebellion in Galloway but died in battle. The Kennedys derived from a branch of Celtic Earls of Galloway (not to be confused with Gallway, which is in Ireland). Their power and influence in that region was great. In fact, there is a rhyme handed down through clansmen and bards from the year 1300 which runs as follows: 'Twixt Wigtown and the town of Ayr, Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree. No man need think to bide there, unless he court with Kennedy.'


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kennedy research. Another 491 words(35 lines of text) covering the years 1170, 1296, 1513, 1406, 1437, 1646, 1406, 1480, 1508, 1513, 1509, 1513, 1527, 1515, 1558, 1541, 1576, 1573, 1615, 1668, 1653, 1701 and are included under the topic Early Kennedy History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 181 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kennedy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Kennedy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 143 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Catherine Kennedy, who arrived in Maryland in 1678
  • David Kennedy, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Margaret Kennedy, who landed in Virginia in 1716
  • David Kennedy, who arrived in Boston in 1737
  • Janette Kennedy, who landed in Connecticut in 1741
  • Darby Kennedy, who arrived in America in 1742
  • Matthew Kennedy, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1747

Kennedy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Peter Kennedy, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1802
  • Gilbert Kennedy, who arrived in Ohio in 1804
  • Hector Kennedy settled in Philadelphia in 1806
  • Rachel Kennedy, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Dennis Kennedy, aged 48, arrived in New York in 1812

Kennedy Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Donald Kennedy, aged 45, landed in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1803
  • Donald Kennedy, aged 45, a farmer, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • Margaret Kennedy, aged 35, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • Janet Kennedy, aged 10, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803
  • John Kennedy, aged 8, arrived in Pictou, N.S. aboard the ship "Commerce" in 1803

Kennedy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • William Henry Kennedy, English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Kennedy, English convict from Sussex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Mary Kennedy, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Janet Kennedy, Scottish convict from Perth, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Kennedy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838

Kennedy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Mark Kennedy landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Donald Kennedy landed in Kawakawa, New Zealand in 1840
  • J Kennedy landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Thomas Kennedy landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lady Nugent
  • Margaret Kennedy, aged 24, a servant, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841


  • Adam Kennedy (b. 1976), Major League Baseball player
  • Sir Alexander Kennedy FRS, FRgs (1847-1928), leading British civil and electrical engineer and academic
  • Anthony McLeod Kennedy (b. 1936), US Supreme Court Associate Justice
  • Arthur Kennedy (1914-1990), American stage and film actor
  • Edgar Livingston Kennedy (1890-1948), American comedic film actor
  • Robert F Kennedy (1925-1968), American politician, brother of John F. Kennedy
  • George Harris Kennedy Jr. (b. 1925), American actor who has appeared in over 200 film and television productions
  • Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932-2009), American politician, U.S. Senator and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Donald Kennedy (b. 1931), American scientist, public administrator, and academic
  • President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (1917-1963), American politician and Motor Torpedo Boat Commander during World War II, 35th President of the United States until he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom



  • Alford-Kennedy Family History by Eileen Alford.
  • Ancestors and Kin by Mary Kennedy Reynolds.

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: Avise la fin
Motto Translation: Consider the end.


Kennedy Clan Badge
Kennedy Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Kennedy
Carach, Carack, Carake, Carech, Careck, Carich, Carick, Carik, Caritch, Carock, Carox, Carrach, Carrack, Carrake, Carrech, Carreck, Carrich, Carrick, Carrig, Carrigg, Carrigy, Carrik, Carritch, Carrock, Carrox, Carryck, Carryke, Caryck, Caryke, Cassillis, Ceanaideach, Ceannaideach, Corrach, Corrack, Corrake, Correch, Correck, Corrick, Corrik, Corritch, Corrock, Corrox, Corryck, Corryke, Garrach, Garrack, Garrake, Garrech, Garreck, Garrick and more.


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  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  11. ...

The Kennedy Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kennedy 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 21 January 2015 at 14:47.

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