Kinsley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Kinsley family

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]

One of the first records of the family was Kynsige, Kinsius, Kinsi or Cynesige (d. 1060), Archbishop of York "who, it is said, was brought into the world by a Caesarean operation." [6]

Important Dates for the Kinsley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kinsley research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kinsley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kinsley Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Kinsley family (pre 1700)

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

Kinsley migration to the United States

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 [7]
  • Stephen Kinsley, who arrived in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1640 [7]
  • Samuel Kinsley, who landed in New England in 1651 [7]
  • William Kinsley, who arrived in Maryland in 1679 [7]
  • Thomas Kinsley, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682 [7]
Kinsley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Kinsley, who landed in America in 1805 [7]
  • Benjamin Kinsley, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1817 [7]

Kinsley migration to New Zealand

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Kinsley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Henry Kinsley, aged 28, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864

Contemporary Notables of the name Kinsley (post 1700)

  • 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
  • Jane Kinsley Rich, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Madison County, 1936


  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)
  6. ^ Lee, Sir Stanley, Dictionary of National Biography. London: The MacMillan Company 1909. Print
  7. ^ 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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