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Kennedy Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: AVISE LA FIN (Consider the end)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family, the Kennedys. There are two major lineages of the Kennedy surname, one originating in Ireland and the other in Scotland. Although these two branches have become somewhat intertwined over the generations due to immigration between northern Ireland and southwest Scotland, they likely emerged independently. The Scottish version of the name, derived from the Gaelic ‘Ceannadach,’ roughly translates to ‘one belonging to Ceannad or Kenneth.’ Early variations of the name appear as MacKenede, meaning son of Kenneth. Unfortunately, as Kenneth was a common name in early medieval Scotland, with meanings like ‘handsome’ or ‘fiery,’ we cannot be certain about the specific identity of this man. However, we can safely assume that he belonged to the Gaelic-speaking aristocracy of the emerging Scottish kingdom.

The Scottish Kennedys have a strong association with the district of Carrick in Ayrshire. Gilbert Mac Kenedi witnessed a charter granting lands in Carrick to the abbey at Melrose during the early reign of William the Lion. Gillespie Kennedy is mentioned as the seneschal of Carrick in charters during the reign of Alexander II. The Kennedys claimed a blood kinship with the Earls of Carrick and supported Bruce in the War of Independence. Their loyalty was rewarded when Robert II confirmed John Kennedy of Dunure as the chief of his name and Baillie of Carrick in 1372. John’s direct descendant, Gilbert, was granted the title of Lord Kennedy around 1457 and served as one of the regents for the infant James III. Sir David, the third Lord Kennedy, was elevated to the status of Earl of Cassillis in 1509 and died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. John, the sixth Earl of Cassillis, held the position of Lord Justice General of Scotland from 1649 to 1651. The tenth Earl, David Kennedy, commissioned the renowned architect Robert Adam to construct Culzean Castle, now considered Adam’s masterpiece.

Upon his death, the title passed to a relative who had settled in America, Captain Archibald Kennedy. During the American War of Independence, he attempted to remain neutral, which led to mistrust from both sides. His son, the twelfth Earl, enjoyed a close friendship with the Duke of Clarence and was created Marquess of Ailsa upon the Duke’s coronation as William IV. Lieutenant General Sir Clark Kennedy of Knockgray served throughout the Peninsular War and played a significant role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He commanded the center squadron of the Royal Dragoons and personally captured the eagle and colors of the 105th Regiment of French Infantry. The fifth Marquess generously presented Culzean Castle to the National Trust for Scotland.

The Kennedy family’s illustrious history, from their Gaelic origins in Scotland to their significant contributions in politics, military, and architecture, showcases their enduring legacy. Their connections to the Earls of Carrick and their unwavering loyalty to the Scottish crown shaped their rise to prominence. The Kennedys’ influence extended beyond Scotland, with members serving in America during the War of Independence and maintaining close relationships with British royalty. Culzean Castle stands as a testament to their architectural patronage and artistic vision, while the family’s valor in battles like Waterloo solidifies their place in the annals of military history. With their ancestral home now preserved for future generations, the Kennedys’ captivating journey continues to inspire admiration and pride in their rich heritage.

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Family Crest Motto: AVISE LA FIN (Consider the end)

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