Kenneth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The old Scottish-Dalriadan name Kenneth is derived from the personal name Coinneach. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Coinnich or Mac Choinnich, both of which mean son of Coinneach. However, In Adamnan, the Gaelic form of the name is Cainnechus, which is derived from the word cann, meaning fair or bright; thus, the surname is of the 'nickname' variety in this case.

Early Origins of the Kenneth family

The surname Kenneth was first found in Ross-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rois) a former county, now part of the Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles in Northern Scotland, which emerged from the Gaelic lordship of the Earl of Ross, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Early History of the Kenneth family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kenneth research. Another 192 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1278, 1715, 1771, 1561, 1568, 1594, 1569, 1611, 1651, 1635, 1678, 1636, 1691, 1688, 1662, 1677, 1677, 1688, 1630, 1714 and are included under the topic Early Kenneth History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kenneth Spelling Variations

Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of Kenneth include MacKenzie, McKenzie, Kennethson, Kenneth, Kennieson, MacCoinnich (Gaelic), MacWhinnie, MacWhinny, MacWhinney and many more.

Early Notables of the Kenneth family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was John Mackenzie (died c. 1561), or "John of Killin", traditionally reckoned 9th of Kintail, a Highland chief; Kenneth Mackenzie (died 1568), 10th of Kintail and nicknamed Coinneach na Cuirc (or "Kenneth of the Whittle"), a Highland chief; Colin Mackenzie of Kintail (died 1594), nicknamed "Cam" ("crooked", because one-eyed), a Highland chief; Kenneth Mackenzie, the first Lord Mackenzie of Kintail (c.1569-1611), a Highland Clan chief...
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kenneth Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Kenneth family to Ireland

Some of the Kenneth family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Kenneth family

These settlers arrived in North America at a time when the east was burgeoning with prosperous colonies and the expanses of the west were just being opened up. The American War of Independence was also imminent. Some Scots stayed to fight for a new country, while others who remained loyal went north as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of them went on to rediscover their heritage in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic Scottish events. The Kenneth were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records: Alexander McKenzie, his wife Isobel and their four children, who settled in Philadelphia in 1775; John and Mary McKenzie, who settled with two children in New York in 1738.


Contemporary Notables of the name Kenneth (post 1700) +

  • John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), Canadian-born American economist and author and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • David Kenneth Jones (1941-2022), Welsh international rugby union player, born in Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire
  • Lewis Kenneth Chaffe, American tobacco company executive, Richmond, Virginia
  • Knute Kenneth Rockne (1888-1931), Norwegian/American football coach
  • Hugh Kenneth Leatherman Sr. (1931-2021), American politician who served as a Republican member of the South Carolina Senate from 1981 until his death in 2021, President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate, member of the State Budget and Control Board until it was abolished in 2014
  • Michael Kenneth Williams (1966-2021), American actor, best known for his role as Omar Little on the HBO drama series The Wire and Albert "Chalky" White on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire
  • Thomas Kenneth Prebble MNZM (1945-2021), English-born, New Zealand educationalist and university administrator
  • John Kenneth Kirkham (1941-2021), English professional footballer who played as a wing half from 1959 to 1970 in over 178 matches
  • Richard Kenneth Guy (1916-2020), British mathematician and professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Calgary
  • Mr. David Kenneth Compton B.E.M., British Volunteer Warden for Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve in Hampshire, was appointed the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to Nature Conservation [1]


The Kenneth 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: Luceo non uro
Motto Translation: I shine not burn.


  1. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1


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