MacChesnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The family name MacChesnay is believed to be descended originally from the Norman people. The Normans were commonly believed to be of French origin but were, more accurately, of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 AD, under their King, Stirgud the Stout. Later, under their Jarl, Thorfinn Rollo, they invaded France about 911 AD. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy. Duke William, who invaded and defeated England in 1066, descended from the first Duke Rollo of Normandy.
The family originated in "Quesnay (Chesnay), near Coutances, from which came De Chesneto or Kaineto in England."  
Another source agrees with this origin, but adds: "All derive ultimately from MedLat casnetum (OFr chesnai) 'oak-grove' and the surname may also denote an immigrant from France who lived by an oak-grove or came from a place Chenay, Chenoy, or Chesnoy." 
Early Origins of the MacChesnay family
The surname MacChesnay was first found in Sussex where the ancient ancestor Radulfus de Calsned was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.  Later in Oxfordshire, Hugh de Chaisnei, de Cheisnei was listed in 1140, 1166 at Eynsham, Oxfordshire. In 1205, William de Chesnei was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1205 and Bartholomew del Chennay was found in the Feet of Fines for Surrey in 1212. In Suffolk, William de Cheny was listed there in 1235 and later, Roger del Chesne was listed in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1236. Alexander de Cheyny was found in Bedfordshire in 1242 and Alexander de Cheyne was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296. 
Another source notes that William de Chesney (died 1161), the Anglo-Norman magnate during the reign of King Stephen of England was one of the first listed. He held Oxford Castle during King Stephen's reign. Robert de Chesney (died 1166), brother of William de Chesney was a medieval English Bishop of Lincoln. He was an early patron of Thomas Becket, and present during the coronation of King Henry II of England in 1154. He also served King Henry as a royal justice. 
William de Chesney (died 1174), another brother, was a medieval Anglo-Norman nobleman and Sheriff of Norfolk (c. 1146-1153), Suffolk (c. 1146-1153) and (1156-1163). He also founded Sibton Abbey.
"Cheney or Cheyney is an ancient name in the east of England, but it is not of frequent occurrence now. In the 13th century it was established in most of the eastern counties in the forms of De Cheney, De Chenee, Le Cheny, etc., in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hunts, Norfolk, Bedfordshire." 
"The manor called Bodannan or Bodannon, situated in [the parish of Endellion, Cornwall], was formerly the seat of an ancient family called Chenduit, generally denominated Cheyney. Sir John Chenduit, who represented this county in the reigns of Henry IV. and V. was speaker of the house of commons in the former reign. His son William left two co-heiresses, who married into the families of Trejago and Roscarrock. This manor fell to the share of the latter, and was sold in 1586, by John Roscarrock, Esq. to Nicholas Dagge, yeoman, who in 1597 conveyed it to Henry Rolle, Esq." 
The same source notes that "Strickstenton, which was formerly a parcel of the manor of Bodannan, on which the family of Chenduit are said to have had their seat, belonged to Mathews in 1620. The north aisle is the burial place of the Roscarrocks; and an ancient, though uninscribed tomb in the chancel, is by tradition said to be that of Lord Cheyney; but in support of this opinion no real evidence appears." 
In Scotland, "the Conqueror's associate to whom this entry refers was Ralph Cheine or de Caineto. He received considerable grants of lands and his descendants were seated, in high repute, at Sherland, in the Isle of Sheppey. One was the famous Sir John Cheney, K.G., created Baron Cheney by Henry VII. for his services at Bosworth: and another, that nobleman's nephew and heir, Sir Thomas Cheney, a person of great gallantry and note in the following reign. At the celebrated interview between Henry VIII. and Francis I., at Ardres, he was one of the challengers against all gentlemen who were to exercise feats of arms on horseback or on foot, for thirty days; and he became subsequently a knight of the garter, warden of the cinque ports, and treasurer of the king's household. " 
Henry Cheyne or Le Chen (d. 1328), was Bishop of Aberdeen and the nephew of John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, killed by Robert Bruce in 1306, and the brother of Sir Reginald le Chen, Baron of Inverugie, and Great Chamberlain of Scotland. 
Early History of the MacChesnay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacChesnay research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1320, 1414, 1399, 1372, 1378, 1390, 1393, 1394, 1399, 1407, 1413, 1251, 1246 and 1372 are included under the topic Early MacChesnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacChesnay Spelling Variations
Spelling variations of this family name include: Cheyney, Chainey, Chainie, Cheeney, Cheeny, Cheney, Cheyne and many more.
Early Notables of the MacChesnay family (pre 1700)
Notable among the family at this time was Sir John Cheyne (Cheney) (died 1414), a Member of Parliament and briefly the initial Speaker of the House of Commons of England in the Parliament of October 1399, summoned by the newly-acclaimed Henry IV, married Margaret, daughter of William, Lord Deincourt and the widow of Robert, Lord Tiptoft which brought him wealth and status (1372), became an esquire in the king's household and was knighted in 1378, took part in a number of diplomatic missions and became MP for Gloucestershire in 1390, 1393, 1394 and 1399, last occasion he was...
Migration of the MacChesnay family to Ireland
Some of the MacChesnay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Migration of the MacChesnay family
Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: John Cheney who settled in Newbury, Massachusetts in 1636; John Cheney settled in Watertown in 1636; Thomas Chainy arrived in Barbados in 1654; Robert Cheynay settled in Virginia in 1639.
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: Fato prudentia major
Motto Translation: Prudence is greater than fate.