Show ContentsKneen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Kneen was first used as a surname in the Scottish/English Borderlands by the Strathclyde-Briton. The first Kneen family lived in Ayrshire. The surname Kneen was also regarded as derived from the Gaelic patronymic Mac Naoimhin, which is derived from the word "naomh," meaning "little saint." The name was a favorite personal name in Galloway and Ayrshire. [1] [2]

Another source claims the name "points to an early but forgotten personal name," [3] but the lion's share of sources point to the aforementioned "little saint" origin.

Early Origins of the Kneen family

The surname Kneen was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, where the first record of the family appeared in the Latin form Nevinus, who was parson of Neveth and witnessed grant of a saltpan in Rosneath to the monks of Paisley, c. 1230. [1]

"Patrick filius Nevyn mentioned in 1284 is doubtless Patrick fiz John Nevyn or Neivin of Lanerkshire who rendered homage, 1296. Thomas filius Neuini served on an inquest in 1295, another Thomas filius Nyuini or Niuini was a tenant in Garvalde, 1376, and Crunyhatoun was leased to Robert filius Niuini in the same year." [1]

Some of the family ventured south into England where as a forename Neuyn filius Ade was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland in 1332 and Thomas filius Neuini was listed in 1295. [4]

Early History of the Kneen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kneen research. Another 372 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1230, 1400, 1296, 1386, 1538, 1590, 1635, 1635, 1675, 1793, 1539, 1594, 1680, 1715, 1700, 1639, 1684, 1686, 1744, 1686, 1634, 1703, 1725, 1695, 1707, 1711, 1720, 1721, 1722 and 1650 are included under the topic Early Kneen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kneen Spelling Variations

Medieval Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. This is due to the fact that scribes in that era spelled according to the sound of words, rather than any set of rules. Kneen has been spelled Niven, Nevin, Nevins, Nivens, Navin, Newin, Nevane, Niffen, Nifen, Niving, Neving, Newing, Neiven, Nivine, Nevison, Niveson and many more.

Early Notables of the Kneen family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Kate McNiven (died 1715), also called Kate Nevin, a young nurse who served the House of Inchbrakie in the Parish of Monzie, near Crieff in Scotland in the early 1700s, she was one of the...
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kneen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Kneen family to Ireland

Some of the Kneen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 221 words (16 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Kneen migration to the United States +

Many Scots were left with few options other than to leave their homeland for the colonies across the Atlantic. Some of these families fought to defend their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. Others went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these families have recently been able to rediscover their roots through Clan societies and other Scottish organizations. Among them:

Kneen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • O. Kneen, aged 5, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1892
  • Fred Kneen, aged 21, who landed in America from Douglas, Isle of Man, in 1899
Kneen Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • James Thomas Kneen, aged 23, who immigrated to the United States from Isle of Man, in 1901
  • Florence Kneen, aged 18, who immigrated to America, in 1902
  • Annie Kneen, aged 24, who landed in America from Ramsey, England, in 1907
  • Edith B Kneen, aged 38, who settled in America, in 1908
  • Thomas Kneen, aged 23, who landed in America from Workington, England, in 1909
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Kneen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kneen Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • James Kneen, aged 23, who immigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1907

Australia Kneen migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Kneen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick Kneen, British convict who was convicted in Castle Rushen, Castletow, Isle of Man for 7 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Kneen (post 1700) +

  • James Kneen, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Broome County, 1909 [6]
  • Edward W. Kneen, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Huntington; Mayor of Shelton, Connecticut, 1917-18; Member of Connecticut Republican State Central Committee, 1922 [6]
  • E. J. Kneen, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wisconsin, 1924 [6]
  • Dan Richard Kneen (1987-2018), British professional motorcycle racer; he died from injuries sustained in a race collision at the age of 30
  • Thomas Kneen (1852-1916), British, who was His Majesty's Clerk of the Rolls for the Isle of Man
  • Edgar Albert Kneen (b. 1882), Australian rules footballer
  • Steve Kneen, Australian former professional rugby league footballer
  • John Joseph Kneen (1873-1938), British Manx linguist

The Kneen 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: Vivis sperandum
Motto Translation: Where there is life there is hope

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Supplement to Irish Families. Baltimore: Genealogical Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th January 2020). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook