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

Kinsley is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Kinsley family lived in one of the places called Kingsley in Cheshire or Staffordshire having derived from the Old English word cyningesleah, which means wood or clearing of the king. [1] Thus, Kinsley is a classic example of an English polygenetic surname, which is a surname that was developed in a number of different locations and adopted by various families independently.


The surname Kinsley was first found in Cheshire where a "township and estate, the property of Sir Ranulph de Kingsley before 1128 was found. In the XVIII century the family divided into two branches, the younger continuing the name of Kingsley, the elder adopting that of De Aula or Hale." [2] Another early listing of the name was Adam de Kyngeslegh who was listed in East Cheshire. [3] Kingsley is a township, civil parish and a village in the parish of Frodsham, union of Runcorn. [4] It was first listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Chingeslie. [5]

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Kingsley, Kingsleigh, Kingslee, Kinsey and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kinsley research. Another 171 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kinsley History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Kinsley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, travelling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Kinsley or a variant listed above:

Kinsley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • John Kinsley, who arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1636
  • Stephen Kinsley, who arrived in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1640
  • Samuel Kinsley, who landed in New England in 1651
  • William Kinsley, who arrived in Maryland in 1679
  • Thomas Kinsley, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682

Kinsley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Jas Kinsley, who landed in America in 1805
  • Benjamin Kinsley, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1817

Kinsley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Henry Kinsley, aged 28, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864


  • Martin Kinsley (1754-1835), American politician, U.S. Representative from Massachusetts
  • Michael Kinsley (b. 1951), American political journalist, commentator and television host
  • William "Billy" Ellis Kinsley (b. 1946), English musician with The Merseybeats
  • Kelsa Kinsley, Canadian actress and broadcaster
  • Colin Kinsley, Canadian politician, mayor of Prince George, British Columbia 1996 through 2008


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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  3. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  4. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  7. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  8. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  10. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  11. ...

The Kinsley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kinsley 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 17 November 2015 at 16:44.

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