12.1.17 Ancestry have just announced that their genealogical DNA database has passed the 3 million mark. This is a staggering achievement - the battle for sales supremacy in the DNA market has clearly been won. As I mention elsewhere on the site, the autosomal test they sell is designed to find cousins along all lines of your family tree and is probably accurate out to about 4-5th cousin level. No single line is guaranteed to be picked up. So whilst it is an essential test if you want to use DNA in genealogy, it remains far behind a male Y chromosome test in its ability to probe the far past of your Kennedy ancestry. If you take the Ancestry DNA test I urge you to transfer the data to GEDMatch.com whose analysis tools are far superior, along with a current GEDCOM. Feel free to drop me a line to give me your GEDMatch kit number. The test has been available in the UK and other countries outside the USA since early 2015 and I now have quite a few matches in England (including migrating Scots), Canada and Australia. I also have matches in Scotland in approximately the proportion I would predict to England, taking into account the population ratios and Scotland to England migrations.
The high spec end of the market continues to develop and in the last few days the Berlin 'YSEQ' lab led by the renowned Dr. Thomas Krahn, which had been concentrating on novel Y SNPs from next generation sequencing, has now launched its own whole genome test. As a result, Full Genomes have trimmed the prices of their equivalent products. I continue to recommed these two firms for male Kennedy testing.
5.1.16 This month marks the tenth anniversary of the Kennedy one-name study and DNA project which was inspired by a talk by Chris Pomery at the Society of Genealogists. Chris coined the term 'dual approach' and I have tried to follow his methodology, though I can't expect to match his achievement in DNA testing every family line. The journey has been amazing and I am so grateful to those Kennedys who have supported my research by submitting pedigrees and DNA samples and asking me questions. There are two highlights I want to return to.
The first was in July 2009 when Edinburgh celebrated the Gathering of the Clans. I along with 'SC' set up and ran the Kennedy clan tent, welcoming Kennedys from all around the world. Well over one hundred Kennedys signed the visitor book. The late chief Charles, Lord Ailsa was in attendance along with his charming daughter Lady Rosemary Kennedy.
The second highlight for me was in November 2013 when in the space of just ten days we firstly saw a complete phylogenetic tree under M222, revealed to us by Dr. James Wilson of Edinburgh University; and then before the dust had even settled my own Y sequencing efforts revealed a further sub-branch FGC4077 which plugged the one significant gap in Wilson's work. So I would like to pay tribute to two key individuals. One is Justin Loe, whose sequencing start-up Full Genomes, Inc has blazed a trail it continues to blaze today with the first affordable WHOLE genome sequencing for just a few hundred dollars. Justin dared to take on the big guys. We need more people like him. Secondly I pay tribute to Dr. Wilson. It was he and not his bigger rivals who first made the M222 SNP commercially available back in 2006 and it was he and not them who cracked open the tree below M222. If we had all listened to the naysayers none of the above would have happened.
The work is not finished and there are DNA sample kits at the lab from a number of places including Perthshire, Lewis and Shetland. I am doing my usual thing of checking the kit status several times a day to see if they have finished!
21.8.15 I'm delighted to report that I have finally obtained a sample from a Leanachan/Brackletter Kennedy and confirmed he is a member of the previously reported MacUalraig SNP group first isolated late last year. Amongst others he therefore matches the Glengarry Kennedy group as well as at least one of the Rannoch Kennedys. In my view this result puts the identification of the group beyond doubt. I am grateful to all the individuals who pulled together to make this testing possible; and also thank profusely Thomas and Astrid Krahn of YSEQ for their hard and accurate lab work.
2.6.15 There is shocking news for the highland Kennedys with the sudden and unexpected death of Charles Kennedy, the former MP and leader of the Liberal Democrats. His family had lived in Kilmallie parish for many generations. Charles was Rector of Glasgow University for several years and came to our local library in Hillhead to do a talk just after his appointment. He will be greatly missed around the country.
4.5.15 My autosomal AncestryDNA results came in recently. This test is now available in the UK and Ireland so it may pay dividends in time. I have uploaded my data to GEDMatch where I am kit number A828783. Please note that this test only reaches out accurately to around 4th cousin distance and is not the main focus of the Kennedy DNA project which still uses the male Y chromosome. On the subject of the latter and my FGC4077 branch, another sequencing tester has just tested positive for the 'FGC5856-73' sub-branch so this will help break down the structure of the branch and reduce the number of SNPs future Kennedys will need to take. If anyone is interested in sequencing it is essential to use the YElite test from Full Genomes since the rival product has poor coverage of the FGC5856 branch - less than 50%!
7.2.15 The last few weeks have seen extraordinary progress within the Northern Kennedy part of the project. Firstly I got around to reading the 2011 work by Dr. Barry Robertson on the house of Huntly, 'Lordship and power in the North of Scotland', which has helped pull together my fragmentary knowledge of the struggle between Argyll and Huntly over the lands of Lochaber where the head of the highland Kennedys lived, which resulted in Argyll giving the Kennedys sasine to lands they held in tack from Huntly. It now seems that Huntly only became the Kennedy landlord again after Argyll's execution in 1661, having previously been heavily in debt to him. Secondly I finally got hold of AG Morrison's short article on the Kennedies of Leanachan written back in the pre-internet days. Most of his data I had already found myself but a couple of key records were new and provided further if ultimately inconclusive evidence of connections between Rannoch and Lochaber - some resting on purely onomastic proofs. However the real breakthrough is that after almost a decade of work, I have finally found a solid *SNP confirmed* DNA connection between the Lochaber, Rannoch and Coll Kennedys. So it matters not, in one sense, whether the Gillandres Beg living at Invercomrie in the 1640s is the same as the man of that name living at Leanachan in the 1630s!! However the work continues with two more Inverness Kennedys being SNP DNA tested at the YSEQ lab.
19.1.15 Sadly I have to announce the passing away of Charles Kennedy Lord Ailsa, the hereditary Chief of the Kennedys in Scotland. I got to know Lord Ailsa and his daughter Lady Rosemary quite well at the time of the Gathering of the Clans and will miss his kindness and leadership.
1.11.14 I am delighted to report that I have been awarded the title of 'Genetic Genealogist of the Year 2014' for my work analysing Y chromosome sequencing data for the M222 community and encouraging people to test! The award was shared with CeCe Moore whose work was on autosomal DNA.
29.10.14 All four members of my highland Scottish Kennedy cluster are now grouped together as FGC5856+. Members 3 and 4 are still to be tested for the lowest level bunch of six markers.
30.9.14 I have started work on a technical report on the study, primarily aimed at other researchers doing large Scottish/Irish one-name studies. It may be of more general interest especially if you suffer from insomnia!
25.8.14 A few months ago GRONI released a very good set of BMD indices which are probably the best out of all the current GROs. They extend back to the beginning of civil records ie 1864 and 1845 for Protestant marriages even though Northern Ireland of course didn't exist then. An analysis of the collection shows that the commonest spouse name for Kennedy was Thompson with 45 marriages but the commonest mother's maiden name for Kennedy children was Kelly with a combined total of 59 children (those two figures are over different time periods so not directly comparable). Geographically there is no surprise that Belfast registration district dominates the numbers and at the opposite end of the scale just 3 Kennedys had a birth registered in Clogher, Co. Tyrone. Interestingly at the time of the 1901 census there was only one Kennedy family in Clogher and Patrick, the head, was from Louth and is married to a Kelly. The Kennedy children in question were born just after that to a family who had moved down from Omagh; but they too were outsiders with the father Joseph being from Derry and his wife Anne Baskin coming from Donegal. This shows the weak point of the two GRO systems in Ireland as although the GRONI birth index shows the children with the mother's name Baskin the marriage index has no Baskin in it - they married at the bride's home in Glenties Co. Donegal and that record is only in the GRO Dublin index (Glenties Q3 1901). The onus is now on GRO Dublin to follow suit with an index this rich in information which would transform one-name studies all over the island.
17.7.14 Exciting news from Nenagh where Rody Kennedy has been appointed the new chief of the Irish Kennedys! Brian Patrick Kennedy pictured alongside him is the author of the book 'The Irish Kennedys'.
30.6.14 Breaking news as genetic marker FGC5864, found in me by Dr. Greg Magoon of Full Genomes, Inc. has now been identified as a private marker in my ancestry, splitting me from other M222 Kennedys from highland Perthshire! I hope to come up with an age estimate for this branching after a little more testing over the summer. This marker is available at YSEQ whilst Full Genomes remains the ultimate DNA test and the last one you would ever need to do as it tests the whole of the Y chromosome.
24.6.14 Today marks the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn and at the weekend a big clan gathering is taking place to celebrate. From a historian's perspective this is problematical as most of the clans attending can't actually produce any evidence they were at the battle. The main Scottish source, John Barbour's The Brus, was written some time afterwards and names very few individuals. There is much better information about who fought (and died) on the English side from a number of sources including Scalacronica, the Chronicle of Lanercost and Vita Edwardi Secundi. Perhaps there is an ironic lesson there: we know well that the Kennedy chief died at Flodden and the names of all the other nobles who died alongside him. So unlike at the big Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh a few years ago, there will be no Kennedy clan tent at Bannockburn, even though the Kennedys had their powerbase near to the Bruces and undoubtedly benefited from this proximity later.
15.4.14 The promised second semester of Scottish medieval history at Glasgow University had to be shelved at the last minute as I diverted all my time and funds to pursuing the Kennedy DNA side of the project. The last few months have as a result seen a series of breakthroughs to the extent that this research, if not complete, can be considered to have reached 'maturity' as the Guild of One-Name Studies like to describe it. It is now proven that what appeared to be a close connection between my own Kennedy line and the lowland-Ulster group was spurious and arose from the nature of the old style 'legacy' DNA markers which can give rise to false positive matches. It is for this reason that I now recommend using only next generation sequencing SNPs for Kennedy testing, to avoid this trap. The northern Kennedys now slot into several groups and my hunch that the Kermuck-Canisbay group had no connection with Ayrshire either has been confirmed. I am very grateful to those who have helped out by donating their samples to the research. Work is still ongoing with pending tests at various labs. I also gave a brief talk on the project at an inaugural meeting of a Scottish DNA Interest Group at Strathclyde University.
16.12.13 I am currently reading my early Christmas present, Dr. Daniel McCarthy's stunning work 'The Irish Annals - their genesis evolution and history'. This highly detailed book helps to peel back the many layers of the annals which are one of the main sources for the emergency of the O'Kennedy surname in Gaelic Ireland. In Scotland the earliest annalistic record of the Kennedy name is in Fordun, or rather Gesta Annalia; and perhaps the Scottish equivalent of McCarthy's work is thus Dauvit Broun's book 'Scottish independence and the idea of Britain', and his two chapters of original research on the sources used by Fordun. Broun's recent inaugural lecture as Professor of Scottish history at Glasgow is now on YouTube with a rather long introduction from Roibeard O Maolalaigh our Gaelic professor who is currently acting as Head of Humanities (Broun finally gets to his feet at 13' 45" into the video!). The title of the lecture is 'Rethinking Scottish origins' and is well worth viewing. Most interesting is to see what the geographical boundaries of 'Scotland' were when the term first emerged, and how Galloway where Henry Kenedy is recorded and Argyll for example lay outside it.
11.12.13 Finally both my new DNA tests are in and provide much to think over. The Chromo2 test shows me as M222* ie negative for all 27 new SNPs under M222! This means I branched off before either of the big groups S588 and S673/S675 evolved, into a branch not revealed by the Chromo2 chip. Dr. Wilson has indicated that some 17% of testers so far fall into this group. The fine detail of my branch is revealed by my other test at FullGenomes which has yielded 22 high quality SNPs (95% confidence level or above) plus a number of INDELS (inserts/deletions) which I am still studying. Work to validate and explore how widespread the SNPs are is already underway. The more recent ones will be primarily Kennedy specific (although not entirely as I have some very close non-Kennedy matches) and the older ones will increasingly bring in other surnames.
17.10.13 The first Kennedy test result from the new Chromo2 chip test at ScotlandsDNA has been revealed as S588*. The new structure under M222 is still being fleshed out but this may harden up a connection with the ancient Ui Neill of Ulster. My own result is not quite ready but shouldn't be much longer now.
3.10.13 The new academic year at Glasgow University kicks off today for me. As I spent the whole of last year studying Irish history this year is the turn for Scottish. I am doing two separate courses; one on Scotland in the Middle Ages and next semester will cover the Dark Ages, between them these two courses will cover the period from 400 to 1286. This combined with the imminently expected DNA results splitting the M222 Kennedy group should complete the understanding of this branch of the Kennedys.
6.9.13 Professor Dan Bradley of Trinity College Dublin will be speaking at a special conference on 'genetic genealogy' in Dublin at the end of October. Bradley was at one stage a pioneer in Irish genetic studies but since his seminal 2005 paper 'A Y-chromosome signature of hegemony in Gaelic Ireland' his work has been overtaken by amateurs and the company sponsoring the talk is also getting left behind technologically. I am hopeful that the new tests I am trying out will report very shortly (end of September?) for the latest rewrite of history! Unfortunately I can't make Dublin but I did attend a seminar at Glasgow University to mark the end of the Breaking of Britain project where I caught up with the latest research on relations between Scotland and England at the time of the Wars of Indepdence and managed to buy two books: chiefly the book of the project, 'New Perspectives on Medieval Scotland 1093-1286' edited by Dr. Matthew Hammond, and a new paperback edition of Professor Dauvit Broun's 'Scottish Independence and the Idea of Britain from the Picts to Alexander III'.
7.7.13 A very interesting early record in England has turned up and the Kennedys of England essay has been updated to discuss and map it.
11.6.13 Glasgow University have graciously awarded me a grade A (equivalent to First Class Honours level) for the two semester course 'Nationalism and Unionism: Irish History 1845-1998'. Sixty percent of the marks came from a major dissertation in the second semester which I did on Hon. Hugh Kennedy and the mistakes which led to the downfall of the Irish Constitution; it is now uploaded here.
7.6.13 How do you tell if a Kennedy record is of an Irish or Scottish person? Sometimes all that can be done is to make a probabilistic determination based on what other onomastic clues are available such as the personal name. This can then be compared against sources of information for both countries in the relevant time period. Suppose though that you are reading a scholarly work such the 'Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland/Scotland' (hereafter CDI and CDS)? These two series were produced at the same time in the late 1800s based on scouring records in the Public Record Office in London. One contains an intriguing entry dated 1462 of a pardon given to a James Kennedy yeoman soldier living in St Martins in the Field. Joseph Bain took the liberty of adding this record to CDS. The editor of CDI, HS Sweetman, meanwhile appears to have restricted his entries to records explicitly mentioning Ireland or a place within it. In fairness it has to be said that CDI entries tend to consist of Okenedys and usually with distinctive Irish personal names too. Meanwhile in Scotland the soldier's namesake Bishop James Kennedy was one of the regents and would soon be the dominant political figure of the day. On balance the probability is that this soldier was a Scot caught up in the Anglo-Scottish duelling of the 1460s; in fact the very next entry in CDS refers to James Earl of Douglas making war in Scotland. In 1462 our yeoman is one of the very earliest recorded O'Kennedys or Kennedys to have been living (or held?) in England. The current record remains 1358 when Edmund O'Kennedy was a prisoner with the Butlers in Surrey; however given the proximity of the Scottish Kennedy branch to the disputed border region with England, and the lands around Stapleton (which has a strong Kennedy showing) being held by Matilda de Carrick and her son Roland when she died in 1307, it seems likely that the Scottish Kennedys beat their Irish namesakes in this particular race.
22.5.13 With the Irish studies temporarily put to one side I have returned to some Scottish research and am reading 'Clerics and Clansmen: the diocese of Argyll between the 12th and 16th centuries' by Iain G. MacDonald. This book is based on a recent Ph.D. thesis at Glasgow University. The diocese of Argyll stretched as far east as Kilmonivaig parish in Inverness where the highland Kennedys made their home. The book uses some very hard to get at primary sources such as the Argyll Transcripts and some privately held transcriptions of papal archives. One of the interesting secondary sources it uses is Alison Cathcart's book 'Kinship and Clientage', also based on a Ph.D. thesis this time at Edinburgh University. Here I picked up one matter Cathcart mentions several times, that in the period 1550 to his death in 1561 Gilbert Kennedy, the 3rd Earl of Cassillis, was acting chief of Clann Mhic an Tòisich. The significance of this is that the latter clan's lands once included and later were immediately adjacent to Leanachan in Glen Spean where the head of the Kennedys lived. This is not the only historical coincidence that might explain the Kennedy entry into Lochaber (I have a depressingly long list of them in fact) but it is worthy of consideration.
9.4.13 The dissertation on Aodh Ua Cinnéidigh has been finished and handed in for marking. This was a major piece of work extending over several months and the most detailed examination of an individual I've done to date. I hope to post a copy of it later. The first semester dissertation was on imperial aspects of the Fenian movement and also involved a Kennedy. Owen Kennedy was one of the Fenians taken prisoner after the 1866 'invasion' of Canada and put on trial in Toronto. He was found guilty but along with the others released to keep friendly relations with the American government. In the end I didn't mention him in the essay since I have not identified which Owen Kennedy he was - if you know, drop me a line! There were several of that name listed in Civil War records.
4.2.13 Luckily I can confirm I am not at all closely related to the English King Richard III! Either down the maternal or paternal line. Most Kennedys are related to one of two famous Irish Kings - if you are from the Munster group (Tipperary to Wexford) most likely you are from the Brian Boru line and if you are in the Scotland-Ulster group, you are likely to be in the so-called Niall of the Nine Hostages group. The exact nature of the relationship between the latter genetic group and Niall himself is now debated though and may be more nuanced than was originally thought. One possibility is that the group started elsewhere (Galloway?) but later suffered a dramatic population explosion in North west Ireland. Hopefully this year we should find out the full story.
17.12.12 I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Professor Richard Oram, the leading academic expert on medieval Galloway. The occasion was the launch of his new book on King Alexander II which I got a signed copy of. It was interesting to talk to him in person afterwards particularly after he made reference during his talk to Ui Neill activities in Scotland during the time of Alexander II. However he was unable to come up with any specifics on relevant settlement in Galloway by the Irishmen at least at this time. I am hopeful that in the next few months my genetic research into the northern Kennedys will finally answer the question as to whether this group originated in Scotland or Ireland, but it must remain a possibility that a solution will elude me!
5.11.12 I have put together a brief summary of my observations about the possible Irish origins of the Scottish Kennedy branch.
4.11.12 The dissertation for my course on Irish history at Glasgow University will be about Hugh Kennedy, the Chief Justice of the Irish Free State and one of the committee who wrote Ireland's first constitution. His extensive papers are at University College Dublin. Hugh's parents were both Kennedys but from different branches, his father being from Donegal and his mother from Clare. Meanwhile Jean Brittain from Ayrshire has published a book about another Hugh Kennedy, this time of Ardstinchar. More will follow when I have had a chance to review it.
28.9.12 In my reading this week on the Irish Famine I have twice come across Tipperary man Professor Liam Kennedy now at Queens University Belfast. He is a contributer to the sumptuous new Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, an expensive but beautifully written and illustrated book which I would strongly recommend. A few years ago Liam delivered a lecture in which he discusses comparisons between the 'genocide' of the Famine and the Jewish Holocaust. You can watch this erudite and challenging lecture, which delivers some hard truths to all of us, here on YouTube.
23.9.12 It was announced recently that the next annual conference of the Guild of One-Name Studies, of which I am a member, will feature a talk on Irish medieval sources by the leading expert on Irish personal names, Dr. Nollaig Ó Muraíle. I am greatly looking forward to hearing this talk. The full details are available here. In the meantime I have now commenced a course on modern Irish history entitled 'Nationalism and Unionism: Irish History 1845-1998' at Glasgow University. The course is led by Dr. Robert Lynch of Queens University, Belfast.
19.9.12 I have uploaded an essay on early Kennedys in England.
28.8.12 The kirk session minutes for Sorn (Dalgain) parish date back to 1692 when Mungo Lindsay was appointed Minister of the parish. I have examined the originals in search of the self-styled 'William Kennedy of Dalgain'. There are typically three groups of names; the elders and deacons of the Kirk who sat in judgement; the poor getting poor relief who in this parish were individually named, sometimes 20 at a time; and those being disciplined, typically for fornication or adultery. There are two Kennedys mentioned. Marion Kennedy was given poor relief in 1706 and Esther Kennedy who is first mentioned in 1728 (around the time the last of William's children was born) getting poor relief. She then reappears in 1731 because although lawfully married to John Richmond, she has just given birth only seven months after marriage. Esther 'acknowledges herself guilty of the sin and scandal of fornication with John Richmond before ye marriage and that this was a relapse in that she had been formerly guilty of the same in the paroch of Muirkirk'. Meanwhile the Scottish History Society have published a printed edition of the early Kirk session minutes of Perth covering the period 1577-90. As might be predicted from other articles like my Kennedy study report, there are no Kennedys in this area this early but there is still an interesting mix of lowland and highland names and one Boyd (a 1585 reference to Janet Boyd and spouse Thomas Finnock). The minutes cover the year 1585 in which plague killed over 1400 people in Perth. Other than that I am busy studying early twentieth century Irish and Scottish Kennedy migrants in England where the census gives considerable detail of place of birth, and the fertility of the married women. So far I have found one Kennedy spouse who has given birth to 15 children, although this is still short of the impressive record of 19 Kennedy children from one woman in Nenagh, co. Tipperary!
17.7.12 In the period 1532-1540 a William Kennedy was living with the English King's Retinue in English controlled Calais, where he owned a ship. He was eventually banished for his religious views in the tumult of the Reformation. If he came direct from England he was very early as there is little sign of permanent English residency of the Kennedys before the Reformation (just one known individual, a Richard Kennedy working on the Thames in 1531). He was also a bit early for the famous hiring of Irish kerne for the French campaign. This took place in 1544 and involved the Earl of Ormond, the feudal overlord of the Irish O'Kennedys. However the muster roll I have looked at today has no Ormond O'Kennedys, instead the only one listed is a Manus McKennedy in Oriel's Kerne (raised by Lord Louth). A little while later some more Kennedys were in trouble for their religion. Dorothy Kennedy, the unmarried daughter of Sir John Kennedy of Scotland, was fined at the Southwark Court for recusancy in 1625. Was her father also Catholic, despite coming to England with King James VI and legally naturalising as an Englishman?
25.6.12 Second time around I have finally tracked down the original statement by Kuno Meyer on the etymology of cennétig. I had originally suspected it was in his early work Contributions to Irish lexicography but was foiled when the National Library of Scotland copy of this work went missing. Now I have seen the book I can confirm that Meyer came up with this etymology back in 1906 and that this was the reference George Black was using in his Surnames of Scotland book - and which Patrick Woulfe either suppressed or missed. I am at work on a new version of my etymology article with some other additions too.
21.5.12 Elsewhere on this site I mention that there are no less than 11 cennetig entries in Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae. However this is nothing compared to the richness of Leabhar mor na nGenealach which boasts 25 cennetig entries. In addition, in the O Muraile edition there are sundry indexes of personal names, surnames and tribal names all of which are worthy of study. See my latest in depth article on this work by the famous Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh.
27.4.12 Last year saw the publication by the Irish Texts Society of volume 4 of Foclóir Stairiúil Aitainmneacha na Gaeilge covering place-names from Ceall Ghabhann to Claíríne, so informing us in detail of the intriguing place-name Ceann-Eitigh (modern day Kinnitty in Co. Offaly). The book series is the output of UCC's Locus project.
11.4.12 I have finally finished my major trawl through the US Federal census of 1880 examining over 8000 Kennedy families, and written up my course dissertation. This had a word limit of 1500 words which I have overshot but there is a lot more analysis I could report when I have the time. As America is not my area of expertise I welcome any feedback from those more knowledgeable.
3.4.12 If you are interested in the mostly American variants Cannaday, Canada etc you may wish to catch up on the latest PBS show 'Finding your roots' which featured Geoffrey Canada, including some Kennedy DNA testing. These spelling variants will feature in my rather overdue course dissertation on the American Kennedys - I only have to finish analysing NY and PA and I'm done!
25.3.12 The latest edition of Scottish Gaelic Studies includes an article on Duncan Kennedy, the collector of Gaelic poetry, by Dr. Anja Gunderloch: 'Duncan Kennedy - Poet and collector of heroic ballads', Scottish Gaelic Studies XVIII (2011) pp55-96. I had a minor role in the genealogical research for it. Duncan's ancestry is still murky and may remain so. The essay also appears in a new book from Four Courts Press 'The Gaelic Finn tradition' ed. S. Arbuthnot and G. Parson (book details).
13.3.12 The 1890 report on surnames in Ireland compiled by Robert Matheson ranked all the surnames using the 1890 index of births. By this measure KENNEDY came out 16th, sandwiched between DOHERTY and LYNCH. Of more interest are his regional rankings, done county by county albeit to different depth depending on the population of the particular county (eg Co. Dublin had a deeper ranking list). Not surprisingly KENNEDY ranks highest in co. Tipperary, its home county, where it was 4th behind RYAN, MAHER and O'BRIEN. The mapping done by Brian Patrick Kennedy has always made it clear that internal migration was to the south and east but nevertheless it feels odd to read KENNEDY being ranked as a leading surname in the Leinster counties of Offaly and Laois, when it doesn't rank in any of the other Munster counties. It also squeezes into the Co. Dublin list which was extended down to a top 23 just to fit us in! Finally it ranks 8th in Co. Sligo, making three of the four Irish provinces where it is a 'ranked' surname.
I have replicated the rankings using the 1911 census and Griffiths Valuation with very similar results. It is more challenging to repeat the exercise with Petty's 1659 'census' due to the baffling variation in spellings which can vary from barony to barony. RYAN was already a clear leader this early on; it was followed by MAHER (rendered as MEAGHER), with BOURKE edging out KENNEDY by just one individual for 3rd and 4th. It is refreshing to find that the KENNEDY surname has held the same 4th spot in co. Tipperary for over 250 years.
Meanwhile I am continuing a major analysis of American KENNEDY data, primarily the 1790 and 1880 Federal censuses. This is for use in a dissertation on American immigration as part of a course on US history at Glasgow University. I hope to have this finished in the first half of April.
30.12.11 I have spent several days tidying up and analysing the Irish Kennedy marriages from the 'British Isles Vital Records' collection. As might be expected from what we know of this dataset, there are a disproportionate number of records from Co. Roscommon, not normally a strong county for the Kennedy surname; but there is some good represenation from Tipperary, Antrim and Down too. Ryan is by far the commonest Kennedy spouse's surname but most of these marriages were in Tipperary. The two most common Irish surnames Kelly and Murphy are somewhat rarer as they are not so common in the strong Kennedy counties north or south. The earliest record is the marriage of Thomasin Kenedy to Richard Hanley in Dublin in 1654 and the latest are from 1881. These have been added to my database and a full report will follow.
3.12.11 I have been invited by the University of the West of England to contribute to the Kennedy entry in the new UK surnames project database. Although the key players are mainly focussed on English surnames they are also aiming to cover Scottish names as well as those of Irish origin that are common in the UK. Their list of experts include Dr. Kay Muhr who heads the Ulster Place-name Society, Dr. Alison Grant of the Scottish Language Dictionaries and Dr. Nollaig O Muraile. The questionnaire members of the Guild of One-name Studies have been sent has nine questions, more than I expected. It requires, for example, that we document the adoption of a surname variant rather than simply assert it. This is an issue that has vexed me before, so that instead of just stating that Canaday and O'Kennedy are both different forms of Kennedy I have to provide documented cases where it can actually by proven. Examples of early name-bearers also have to have a linked primary source. Etymologies are only to be provided if they differ from that given in the standard surname dictionaries (Reaney/Black/MacLysaght). In other words the project is being very thorough as I would expect. I hope to post my response here when finished, since the compilers reserve the right to ignore us!
9.10.11 The Kilhenzie file has been updated with information from the Declarator of Marriage case raised by Mrs Alexander Kennedy, plus information from the testament of William Kennedy's merchant partner Thomas Dalrymple.
30.9.11 I have written up some of my research notes on the younger sons of Kennedy of Kilhenzie, since so many researchers believe they have a descent from them. This research is still ongoing so the report hopefully will be updated in the future. The balance of evidence has to be in favour of the Scottish lines over the North Carolina pedigrees but I am withholding final judgement on what to make of the so-called 'Cox-Kennedy bible'!
4.7.11 Sue Horsman has very kindly submitted 10 Kennedy marriage certificates from Alnwick RD in Northumberland, England. Unlike most Guild marriage challenges this one yielded 2 RC ceremonies from St Marys Roman Catholic church in Alnwick. The range of dates covered is 1856 (Richard Kennedy) to 1908 (Reginald Kennedy).
28.6.11 One Kennedy famous enough to make the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was James Kennedy, the civil engineer. James was a native of Edinburgh but spent most of his career in Lancashire. He twice appears in the census there with his wife Adelaide but who was she and when did they marry? The answer is not easily found in the marriage indices on freebmd nor is it listed at the lancashirebmd site. In fact it can be seen that Adelaide's surname was GURDEN as her brother is with her in the 1881 census. The couple indeed married in Liverpool in Q2 1863 and the entry is on volume 8b page 550 of the register. The volunteer who transribed James' entry misread the writing and has indexed him as on page 330 instead, which give 5 people marrying on that page and 3 on page 550. James died at Garston in 1886 and I have no record so far of any children. A correction request has been submitted to freebmd. Footnote 15.7.11 FreeBMD have now updated their index and you can now find this marriage by searching 'James Kennedy' married to 'Adelaide'.
6.4.11 Scotland has finally made their 1911 census available on a pay-per-view basis following those for Ireland (free!!) and England (pay-per-view). The total Kennedy count in 1911 was 12,223 compared with 17,527 in Ireland. Of these, 3113 lived in Glasgow city compared with 978 in the whole of Ayrshire . My grandfather John Harris Kennedy was one of 37 Kennedys in the parish of Campsie in Stirlingshire. He was a 21 year old living with his parents on Eadies's Land. His parents are shown to have been married for 22 years and have had one child. Grandfather was an apprentice architect and his father was a calico printer.
23.2.11 Unfortunately I have been taken seriously ill and having had 3 weeks in hospital I am now recuperating at home. Apologies if my replies are delayed.
18.1.11 I am being showered with gifts! I have now received a batch of KENNEDY marriage certificates from Bristol registration district covering the period 1837 to 1888, too many to list so if you are looking for one drop me a line. As usual these are typically Anglican church marriages but bear in mind that even though Bristol attracted many Catholic Irish migrants, they would often end up marrying in an Anglican church for a variety of personal and official reasons!
17.1.11 I have managed to spend a few precious hours at the London Metropolitan Archives mainly researching Kennedys in the City of London police of whom 7 are recorded from 1838 onwards (full report to follow). Also located were some early Kennedy baptisms and marriages starting with the marriage of Edward Kennadie and Jone Peter in 1564 in St Botolph without Bishopsgate. Another parish, St Dionis Backchurch, had a burial of Joane wife of Edward Kenydaye in 1575 which may be the same woman.
5.1.11 I am now making available my dissertation from the course on Advanced One-name Studies I did last summer. I held back on this as it was short-listed for publication but in the end the Guild decided to publish Caroline Smith's essay on the English surname Blindell instead.
The rules for the essay were that it should not exceed 3000 words so it was tough to cram in a summary of what I have learned. Commenting on my essay which was double marked by Pharos Tutors and a senior member of the Guild, I was told 'We particularly liked your subject matter and your photographs, your excellent level of background reading and knowledge of historical context. Your article could have had a stronger opening paragraph and ending. I was sometimes a bit unsure where the article was taking me'.
The sub-title for the article was 'Tales of Murder', reflecting the contrast between the two groups of expanding Kennedys who both moved to new areas of Scotland in the 1600s after acts of murder (alleged or real!).
You can download the article here.
29.12.10 The project has received a bumper crop of 56 digital images of NSW Australia Kennedy marriages courtesy of another Guild marriage challenge, this time by Jennie Fairs, covering the period 1788-1856. I only asked for male Kennedy marriages as there were so many of them but Jenny has now kindly offered to repeat the search for the female records too. So if you are researching any of these lines get in touch. The ceremonies are mostly either Roman Catholic or Church of Scotland/Presbyterian.
28.12.10 The POMS project database has finally gone online several months after it was predicted at the end of the project seminar I attended back in July (see 19.7.2010 entry below). The presentation is somewhat bewildering especially having been told previously by the Gaelic Professor that there were 7 Kennedys in the database. It would seem that they have postulated the existence of fathers with the same name as each core individual even though we have no historical reference to such people. So instead of helping us understand the emergence of the Kennedy name, they obfuscate it!?
Note that you can find the famous Cormac mac Cennetig from the Book of Deer by searching under 'Cormac' or 'Cenneitech'.
I have found one error on this page http://www.poms.ac.uk/db/record/factoid/10401/; this should be a reference to 'kenkynnol' of which Professor Hector MacQueen has written extensively. This kenkynnol later passed to the Kennedys of Carrick as discussed here by MacQueen.
28.12.10 I have received two Kennedy marriage certs from St Marys Notts courtesy of a Guild marriage challenge in memory of our late registrar David Mellor. The couples were John Augustine Kennedy/Elizabeth Harby m. 1838 and Robert Kennedy/Ann Wagstaff m. 1858. Contact me if you are researching these lines. Note that these, like most records supplied by Guild marriage challenges, are for Anglican (Church of England) ceremonies.
21.12.10 My second NRH trip of the month and my last for some time as I intend to wrap up the Scottish branch of the project at year end before turning my full attention to the Irish branch in 2011. Transcribed 79 Kennedy BMD records and identified many new Kennedy census households. More analysis on this will follow in the New Year.
3.12.10 Rather recklessly went to Edinburgh on Wednesday on the day the airport and Forth bridge were both closed due to snow and the staff at New Register House told me I was lucky there was anyone there to let me in! Anyway managed to transcribe 97 Kennedy BMD certificates, my best trip of the year. Hopefully I can shed more light on those elusive Kennedy problems although I still failed to find anything further on John Kennedy and Catherine Murphy who moved to Lanarkshire, Scotland after marrying in Thurles in Co. Tipperary in 1921. We don't get many migrants from that far south in Ireland although quite a few from Co. Mayo and Sligo as well as the more obvious Donegal, Down and Antrim. I also finished transcribing all the Maybole marriages I hadn't previously done although again (see entry below) no brothers or cousins to give me another merged tree.
24.11.10 How best can we create larger Kennedy trees? By merging subtrees headed by brothers. If we assume they were born in the same parish we can concentrate on those parishes with the most Kennedy heads of household in the earliest census to show parish of birth which for Scotland is 1851. In that year the top parishes were Kilmonvaig INV (31), Logierait PER (31), Maybole AYR (29) and Kingussie INV (28). No surprises at least if you have read the rest of my site, with the Leanachan/Glengarry Kennedys of Kilmonivaig leading. Maybole, home town of the Carrick Kennedys, just comes in 3rd between the once numerous Strathtay and Badenoch groups. Of course proving for sure any of these are brothers is challenging before civil registration of marriages (unless we find a civil death certificate) and from 1855 onwards emigration (internal and external) would drive many of the rural highland Kennedys away; up to 1932 there are only a further 4 Kennedy men marrying in Logierait for example. And none of them were brothers!! Also, the parentage data on death certs is often unreliable with even sons of the deceased getting their grandmother's name wrong.
8.9.10 An interesting day yesterday working through the Renfrewshire Poll Tax of 1695 for early Kennedys plus a look at another 5 Glasgow poor law applications. Of these two related to John, son of William Kennedy and Margaret McFarlane and one was John, son of John Kennedy and Margaret Love. The remaining two are unidentified and gave out suspect information about their origins - one even fled the application office when the staff said they would telephone Edinburgh to confirm his statement!
22.8.10 An important milestone has been reached on the project with the identification of the 1000th Kennedy family from the last Scottish census. The family in question was that of Donald Kennedy of Glen Urquhart and his wife Helen Angus. Donald and Helen raised a family in Aberdeen and are buried in Allenvale cemetery there. Donald died intestate but the inventory of his estate was valued at £151. I believe I am back on track to finish all identification of Scottish Kennedy families by the end of 2010 and publish the results.
10.8.2010 According to the BBC iPlayer website it's Last Chance to View - Fiona Kennedy's Highland Heartbeat show. This is Fiona's new show designed mainly for the North American market but performed in Glasgow. I'm ashamed to say I missed it although I did have the pleasure to meet Fiona briefly at the Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh last summer. Fiona is the daughter of the late great Calum Kennedy whose family trace back to Balallan in the Lochs parish of Lewis. The mystery of how the Kennedys got to faraway Lewis - migrating north all the way from Lochaber? - is still being worked on!
19.7.2010 Attended the launch of the POMS (Paradox of Medieval Scotland) database at Glasgow University on Friday. In the process I gathered that there will be 7 Kennedy entries in the database which covers all charter names including witnesses for the period 1093-1286, including Cormac mac Cennetig from the Book of Deer land transactions. The Kennedy name even get special mention during the talk on Gaelic personal names! Unfortunately the database is still not actually online and the outlook is now August. Matthew Hammond gave an excellent talk on the adoption of surnames in Scotland, building on the work laid down in his Ph.D. thesis, but still concentrating on the south, north and east. As he himself admitted, there is still a gap to be filled by a rigorous academic study of how surnames evolved in the Gaelic speaking western Highlands. Another interesting facet is the interpretation of the personal name Gilbert, popular with the earls of Carrick and the Kennedys in that district. This 'French' name has been cited by Hector MacQueen as evidence that the Kennedys were Gaels, yet Roibeard O Maolalaigh classified it in his talk as a non-Gaelic name. My recent analysis of the distribution of the name has me more tending towards MacQueens's point of view since it appears highly localised in Carrick compared with the Kyle and Cunningham districts of Ayrshire so indeed may have been translated back from the Gaelic form Gillebrigte.
4.7.2010 Singer Brian Kennedy is a featured artist on the BBC Radio 2 website, in a series of clips you can listen to him singing and talking to host Terry Wogan.
23.6.2010 Completed and submitted my 3000 word dissertation on project progress to date as part of the Pharos course on Advanced One-name Studies.
3.6.2010 The 1901 census for Ireland has gone online revealing 18080 bearers of the surname Kennedy, almost exactly the same as the number in 1911. There were also 27 O'Kennedys and 241 people using Kennedy as a first name. Tipperary is once more the top county with one in seven Kennedys residing there, followed by Antrim, with Louth bringing up the rear again.
2.6.2010 Finally caught up with the Free church of Tummel Bridge records (NAS CH3/995) which feature several Kennedys including those of Trinafour and the Braes of Foss. Inevitably one of them was called up before the kirk session for disciplining although the nature of his misdemeanor is unclear. Also spent some time with MacGregor writs from the John MacGregor collection (NAS GD50/187). Of these the most important found to date is a bond of manrent dated 4 Jan 1602 'Bond of manrent by Johne dow McConoquhy VcEan duy in Cambuserach moir and Duncane McConoquhy VcEan duy his brother in Cambuserachbeg for themselves and posteritie, in the same manner as their father and predecessors were formerly to Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurqhy knight and his heirs, giving them their calps. Balloch 4 Jan 1602' which confirms that the MacGregors were at Camusericht, later a Kennedy farm, right up until Glenfruin. I also found a record from 1583/4 where the MacGregors were using the given name Gillandris, so this name is now proven to have been in use on Rannoch before Gillandris Kennedy arrived. '20 Mar 1583/4 [bought at sale of Menzies mss 19th Mar 1914 John McGregor] Precept granted by James Menzeis of that Ilk heretour of the lands underwritten to Jhone dow Patrick Roy his officers to warn Duncan Campbell of Glenurquhay, ... Gillendris Dow, Duncan McWm VcUchallum pretendit tenantis and occupyaris of his lands of Rannocht to flit and remove. dated at Menzies endorsed with certificate by Jhone dow that on 2d Apr 1583 [sic] he warned personally at their dwelling places the persons within written before' Alternatively, John MacGregor is mistaken in his identification and the clan name or surname of Gillendris Dow is still to be determined! Ironically, the only genuine Kennedy found so far was Patrick Kennedy, a smith, sitting on the Edinburgh assize which tried two of the MacGregors and sentenced them to death by hanging (date of trial 5 Jul 1603: charge was 'dilaitit for being at the field of the Lennox aganis Sir Umphrey Colquhoune and for aint and pairt of the slauchter of sevin scoir persons' ie the battle of Glenfruin). More to follow.
25.4.2010 I have just received a batch of 49 KENNEDY marriage transcriptions from Liverpool West Derby registration district courtesy of Susan Atkins, as part of the Guild of One-Name Studies Marriage Challenge. If you are looking for such a certificate (years 1857-1880) check out this catalogue, if your entry is there contact me with details and I can supply the transcription. I have also accumulated quite a few from St Georges Hanover Square in London plus sundry other registration districts around England but not yet created a public catalogue for them. In the meantime I will be on the Pharos Tutors online course on 'Advanced One-name Studies' commencing Monday 26th April, culminating in a dissertation on my study.
24.2.2010 I am mainly busy with the analysis and synthesis stages of the project, with a view to publishing by the end of the year. It is important to document all the families in Scotland up to 1901 before the exciting release of the 1911 Scotland census in January 2011. Whilst this is going on, let me know if you are struggling to locate your Kennedy family in a Scottish census as I may be able to help.
11.2.2010 How many Kennedys fought on the British side at Trafalgar? According to TNA the answer is 26. Their 'Trafalgar Ancestors' database shows that of these, 18 were Irish natives, although this includes someone from 'Kirkoudbright, Galway, Ireland' which I suggest is a misreading of Kirkcudbright in Scotland - there are Kennedys in Galway but they don't call themselves Samuel. Other than these there is one each from England, Scotland and the United States. Of the four who don't list a place of birth, one must surely be Scottish laird Thomas Francis Kennedy, the only ranked Kennedy in the list; Andrew Kennedy had some wages paid to his wife at Dublin; Pte. Michael Kennedy will be an Irish Catholic; James Kennedy is unclear, as is Nathaniel Kennedy native of Gaston. Irish Kennedys had for centuries fought for continental armies and navies especially the French and Spanish, but I have no information yet about any Kennedys present on the 'other' side at Trafalgar.
2.1.2010 I have written up some notes about the Kennedy register of Kilmonivaig parish in Inverness-shire, including some extracts from the Gordon estate papers covering tacks and rentals at Leanachan and Brackletter.
1.1.2010 Trinity College Dublin have put the 1641 Depositions online and they contain 2 Kennedy references. One is the witness account of the famous incident when Walter Kennedy surrendered Clough castle. You need to register and log on to read the actual record although searching can be done without this. Meanwhile the National Archives of Ireland have uploaded a fully searchable version of the 1911 census so you can now search on all fields including religion - just click on 'more search options'. This includes those who invoked their legal right to not disclose their religion, as one brave Kennedy did!
23.12.09 Spent some time with the Gordon Muniments at NAS, looking at events surrounding the Lochaber Sett of 1804/5 when Angus Kennedy at Lianachanmor and Neil Kennedy of Lianachanbeg bid for renewed tacks of their farms on the Gordon estates; and transcribed all the Kennedy birth/baptism and marriage records from the Kilmonivaig parish registers. These show that the first children raised at Brackletter were in 1811, but that there were still Kennedy marriages taking place at Lianachan as late as 1849 (the last Kennedy men to run the Lianachan farm died unmarried in the 1850s). Hopefully an indepth article will follow.
29.10.09 Latest research in Edinburgh: William Kennedy merchant burgess in Edinburgh who died in 1729, James Kennedy farmer of Lochlands and Kilhenzie d. 1851; Lachlan Kennedy who died at Nairn and established a bursary for young men to study for the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland 'especially if from the parishes of Laggan or Kingussie'. The 1691 Lanarkshire hearth tax returns. Register of Inhibitions from 1780 including Daniel Kennedy gardener in Glasgow, the aforementioned James Kennedy of Lochlands and a 1791 record for Duncan Kennedy merchant in Glasgow.
11.10.09 Why should Co. Fermanagh, a county with no historical connection to the Kennedys and one of the lowest county totals for the surname, have a barony called Tirkennedy? Read one theory here.
8.10.09 Catholic baptism registers have been added to ScotlandsPeople, bringing a further 1727 (soundex off) Kennedy records into view. Three of these registers I have examined physically before - Roybridge St Margarets, Lennoxtown St Machans and Girvan Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Not surprisingly the figures are dominated by the unreformed Lochaber Kennedys and the large west coast towns penetrated by the Irish Catholics. The top five parishes are Glasgow St Andrews, Roybridge St Margarets, Greenock St Marys, Paisley St Mirins and Mingarry Our Lady of the Angels.
1.10.09 Two days of research at the London Metropolitan Archives and Society of Genealogists. Some of the resources searched; Durham hearth tax 1666; Co. Durham parishes of Whickham, Gateshead, Sunderland, South Shields, Jarrow, Stockon-on-Tees, Monkwearmouth; Durham quarter session rolls. For London, All Saints Fulham and St Patricks Soho Roman Catholic church. Highlights were an early Kennedy working as a gardener for Sir Thomas More on the Thames in 1531, and the discovery of surprisingly early Kennedys settled in rural Whickham parish near Gateshead as early as 1587. This parish was a coal-mining district, but it seems rather early for migrant involvement and none of the parish histories make mention of such. The 1666 Whickham man had 2 hearths and one of his ancestors was mugged in the parish in 1602, apparently carrying a large amount of money on him. The other interesting find was the Anglican burial of children of Lewis and Margaret Kennedy of Hammersmith in the 1760s; these had been baptised in the Catholic church but without their own burial ground the Anglican church records their demise. Also checked some entries from the Middlesex Deeds Registry for the 1740s but couldn't find any useful Kennedy entries - the lists are indexed by year and surname of vendor only and a full inspection of each entry which I didn't have time for would be needed to be sure; and Brentford and Middlesex court session books.
21.9.09 I returned to Rutherglen cemetery to complete my survey from last year, bringing the total number of Kennedy gravestones there to 20. The cemeteries page has been updated.
1.9.09 From Tipperary to Louth ... The National Archives of Ireland have now finished publishing the entire 1911 census , which enables another distribution plot. Co. Tipperary still comes out top with 2470 individuals with Co. Louth at the other end of the scale with just 62. The map is not too different from the Griffiths Valuation plot from 60 years earlier. Ireland and her Kennedy population have not urbanised in the way the Scottish have.
29.8.09 Latest research trip to Edinburgh: Burgh sasines for Edinburgh 1809-1907 (20 Kennedy individuals), Confirmations and Inventories 1943 (57 Kennedys) and English probate calendars 1902-1903 (53 Kennedys in total, including the Knocknalling, Ulverston and Hammersmith branches).
27.7.09 A fabulous weekend running the Kennedy tent at the clan gathering in Edinburgh along with Susan Kennedy, with Kennedy and other guests from all around the world including Scotland, England, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. Both the Kennedy Chief, the Marquess of Ailsa and his daughter Lady Rosemary were present. Pictured above is Lord Ailsa (right) talking to John MacArthur, chief of the MacArthurs and head gardener at Castle Kennedy (left).
A clash of dates meant that Ailsa's namesake Charles Kennedy MP of Fort William donned a Kennedy kilt for the first time in public to open the Lochaber Highland games.
22.7.09 If social networking sites are your thing, I have set up a Kennedy group on the new GenealogyWise site. Come and join us and tell us about your Kennedy ancestors.
11.7.09 It's been a while since I did any poor law records research so I spent the morning in the Glasgow archives looking at some of the more transient of the Glasgow Kennedys. The record for shortest stay so far goes to one James Kennedy from Partry, Co. Mayo who arrived here in 1913 without any money, family or work. After three weeks and suffering from pneumonia his landlord asked for him to be removed to the poorhouse. He was sent there 2 days later. After just 24 more days Glasgow obtained a warrant for his removal from Scotland and he was sent back to Ireland. Other recent arrivals I looked at were from Belfast, Derry and Templemore, Co. Tipperary. Whilst waiting for my ordered documents I browsed through some early sasines from Renfrewshire. At the end of the 18th century typically only the merchant class were involved in these transactions so it was a pleasant surprise to find a number of Kennedy entries, merchants from Greenock and Paisley. Between 1781 and 1796 there were 5 different Kennedy families recorded.
4.7.09 I finally made the pilgrimage to Badenoch, visiting Kingussie and Newtonmore. The parish of Kingussie has more historic Kennedy baptisms than any other parish in Scotland and they made up a significant portion of MacPherson of Cluny's regiment in the '45. Their names are prominent in the churchyard in Kingussie and Banchor cemetery at the foot of Glen Banchor (pictured above).
4.6.09 I will be running a stall at the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Fair at Dumfries Academy on June 27th. If you want to find out more about the Kennedy study and Kennedy DNA project, or about how the Guild of One-Name Studies can help you, please drop by and say hello.
16.5.09 Just spent two days in London, finally getting to spend a day at the library of the Society of Genealogists near the Barbican, followed by a day at the National Archives at Kew, south of the river. Although neither are particularly strong in resources on the Kennedy surname, they are both useful places to visit. On my return I was pleased to find on BBC TV last night an interview with Belfast singers Brian Kennedy and Van Morrison about how they came to share a stage together despite Brian being from Catholic West Belfast and Van from a Protestant background.
7.5.09 Congratulations to all the 14 Kennedys who took part in the Great Edinburgh Run, led home by Steven Kennedy in 42:25. They were outnumbered by 26 Kennedys who took part in the Dublin race of the series led home by Aidan Kennedy in 50:22.
19.4.09 The Kennedy study is finally in print - and on the front page! My article 'A One-Name Study from the Scottish Gàidhealtachd' is in the April edition of the Journal of One-Name Studies and my photograph of the Free Church at Crossbost on Lewis graces the front cover.
11.3.09 Second research trip to Aberdeen has been completed, mostly book research in the city library on the Kennedys of Kermuck, hereditary Constables of Aberdeen, plus a survey of Trinity cemetery north of the city centre.
2.2.09 At the moment I am busy writing an article about the project for the April issue of the Journal of One-Name Studies - this article will be exclusive to the Journal and so won't appear on the web site. After that there is much to do to bring the project to some sort of culmination for presentation at the Kennedy clan gathering tent in July in Edinburgh, where I will be organising the tent and showing visitors what research is being done into the Kennedy surname. Again, some of the material will be exclusive to the event! Meanwhile the project database is well over 80,000 Kennedy individuals and much more material is rapidly becoming available from a variety of sources. I am particularly looking forward to a major contribution from other members of the Guild running 'Marriage Challenges' in some key locations in England, such as West Derby and Toxteth..
7.1.09 According to George Black's 'Surnames of Scotland', the Kennedys arrived in Moray in the early 1500s. Read my article discussing this theory.
5.1.09 There are several Kennedys performing at the 2009 Celtic Connections festival. Of course Màiri Anna NicUalraig is appearing several times and I have a ticket to see her band Na Seòid on January 20th; on January 18th she appears as part of 'Hallaig - A celebration of Somhairle MacGill-Eain'. She is also introducting several live radio broadcasts from the festival although the Radio Scotland show on January 27th is sold out. But that's not all. Irish musician Nuala Kennedy will be appearing at the Ceòl's Craic on January 24th. Ross Kennedy is part of 'A 12 hour celebration of 250 Burns songs' on January 24th. Last but not least, on January 28th you can see Wilma Kennedy at 'Bothy Ballads, Muckle Sangs and Orain Mora'.
30.12.08 British Kennedy WW1 service records are now available online at Ancestry; there are 1358 Kennedy records shown including my own grandfather John Harris Kennedy who was in the Royal Engineers and posted to France in 1915. There is also an Angus Kennedy whose address was given as Saltoun Street Glasgow which I can see from my window. This appears to be the son of Angus Kennedy from Rannoch and Marion Lamb Irvine. There are even Kennedys from Nenagh shown, like the Roman Catholic Francis Kennedy who had previously been in the 3rd Leinster Regiment and was now joining the Lancashire Fusilliers.
29.12.08 Over a mince pie I have produced a summary overview of all the Kennedy and variant entries in the Scottish parochial register system.
22.12.08 The National Archives of Ireland have released the next batch of 1911 census data covering counties Antrim, Down and Kerry. This gives us almost four thousand further records headed by Antrim (2027) then Down (986) and Kerry (982). There are a small number of spelling variants (Kenedy, Kinnedy, Kennady, Kendy, Kenndy, Kenneddy and McKennedy although some of these are transcription errors which I have reported. There are no O'Kennedys to add to the 3 already shown from Dublin.
19.12.08 I have written up my notes on my investigations into 17th century Kennedy sources.
9.12.08 It's Perthshire week at the project so this week I am concentrating all my time and effort on the county. Added so far are the Perthshire Sherriff Court Kennedy records 1800-1900, Kennedy records from the Breadalbane Fencibles in the 1790s and a major effort to trawl through early 17th century records for the Menzies estates which covers both Rannoch and Appin of Dull. The early results are very exciting and build on the very meagre entries from the 1691 hearth tax; I can now confirm Kennedys at multiple locations all along the north shore of Loch Rannoch in 1695, some 40 years prior to commencement of the surviving parish register. Their distribution stretches from Camusericht in the west to Leargan in the east. Even better, one Kennedy family head is using a patronymic as well, a great rarity in the project. Other surname patterns are equally interesting; apart from the inevitable Menzies, the McGrigors are probably the most numerous, although many are still using other aliases too. In the 17th century Camerons are less common and McDonalds quite a rare sight. Much more later, although there is some hard work ahead to unravel the patronymics and reconstruct the families.The tomb of the Very Revd. Canon William O'Kennedy, a native of Nenagh and staunch Irish Republican, buried at St Marys Church Nenagh. A trip report for my recent trip to Dublin, Nenagh and Limerick has been added to the Articles page.
2.12.08 The excellent BBC Scotland series 'History of Scotland' finally got around to mentioning the Kennedys last night, in the episode on the Lords of the Isles. But not the moment where the Lord of the Isles had to seek pardon from the great Bishop James Kennedy, the effective ruler of Scotland during the minority of James III. No it was Walter Kennedy, the Irish speaking poet from Galloway, the star of 'The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy', who was called upon to help contrast the wild Gaelic speaking people whose time was past, with the English speaking southerners who represented the future of Scotland.
28.11.08 Breakthrough on the Kennedys of Campsie, the final missing member Alexander Kennedy is finally after several years work proven to be the man who died at Mossley in 1940, apparently having played first division football for Falkirk and Preston football clubs. He is buried in Mossley cemetery. Known sons were Alexander and Gordon Kennedy and there are several new Kennedys including a Clifford Kennedy to be investigated. If anyone has any information about this group please get in touch. The mourners included two siblings, Miss Margaret Kennedy who ran a shop in Glossop and died there in 1943 and Mrs David Coubrough (Catherine Kennedy) who died in Stalybridge in 1957.
26.11.08 Just returned from a week long research trip to Dublin, Nenagh and Limerick city. Two days were spent at the GRO office in Dublin studying early civil birth marriage and death registrations - a staggering 553 Kennedy births were recorded in the first year of civil registration, 1864! - and the National Library of Ireland. At Nenagh I surveyed two small cemeteries and visited the local library and Nenagh castle, former home of the Butler overlords and the O'Kennedys. In Limerick I surveyed the large Mount St Laurence cemetery in Blackboy Road.
14.11.08 Visited Manchester central library where I studied parish registers for Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge and the RC parish of St Josephs Goulden St (Manchester), the latter in particular yielding many Kennedys. From what I have seen so far, most Kennedy marriages in this area didn't take place in Anglican churches, unsurprisingly in view of the Irish influence. I managed to find the marriage of Alexander Kennedy to Alice Green in Stalybridge in 1920, witnessed by his brother Gordon and plan to write this branch up shortly. Alexander was a calico engraver's polisher. Earlier in the week I was at Jordanhill college archives looking at some Kennedy teacher training records for the period 1910-1937.
7.11.08 Added a map of Irish 19th century distribution to the Distribution page.
2.11.08 A very busy week started with a day at New Register House finishing the transcription of 1902 births and reconstructing the Kennedy families of Kingussie who once formed the biggest concentration of Kennedys in Britain, some 8% of the population, significantly higher than Maybole or Liverpool. Then it was a mad dash to Liverpool to visit the Record Office and here a talk from the manager about their resources, and very briefly meet the local Guild members of the area manning a stall at the Liverpool family history fair. Meanwhile I am also busy working on preparations for the Kennedy clan tent at the big Gathering of the Clans next summer in Edinburgh.
24.10.08 Spent a morning at the National Archives, transcribing 3 wills from 1930 and reviewing the parish register for the Roman Catholic parish of Girvan, which covered the area around Girvan, Maybole and Kirkoswald. There is only one Kennedy in this register, a Margaret Kennedy who was a native of Girvan and married Hugh McGarry from Co. Down. There are no Kennedy baptisms. The church and its register date from 1850, and became the Church of the Sacred Heart, Girvan.
17.10.08 Stop press: Lyle Kennedy of Bonnybridge was a medal winner at the Gaelic Mod 2008 yesterday. He sang in front of the TV cameras introduced as Lyle Ceanadach, introduced by the lovely Màiri Anna NicUalraig.
15.10.08 Another trip to Carlisle RO to study the parish register for Stapleton. This small rural parish has sufficient numbers of Kennedys to make Longtown registration district the biggest concentration of Kennedys in England. In one day I transcribed 46 Kennedy marriages, 86 burials and 187 baptisms. Intriguingly the lands were once owned by the de Carricks! The Kennedys are present, working the land, from as soon as the parish registers open in the early 1700s. Earlier I visited Summerlee Ironworks museum at Coatbridge , newly refurbished, to see where so many mostly Irish immigrant Kennedys worked in the 1800s, and surveyed the mostly Catholic Coatbridge Coltswood cemetery.
8.10.08 ScotlandsPeople are now offering digitised entries from the Lord Lyon Public Register of Arms, after which you can view the records for a rather pricey £10. However if all you want to see is the entry for the chief of the Kennedys, the Marquis of Ailsa, I transcribed it some time ago and it won't cost you a penny! Apart from this entry there are 11 other Kennedys including Clowburn, Auchtyfardle, Underwood and the Fergusson Kennedys..
7.10.08 I've produced a distribution map of Kennedy birth registrations in England for the period 1837-1901. The top 10 registration districts are all in the industrial north of the country, reflecting known migration patterns of the Irish and Scottish. The highest placed district outside this area was London Kensington in 15th place. It is difficult to prove the origin of every Kennedy in England (the population was already well established before the first census which listed their country of birth) but the likelihood is that most of them are of Irish as opposed to Scottish origin. But in the area around Whitehaven most of the Irish born Kennedys were from Co. Antrim and Co. Down and so of more distant Scottish origin. They came there initially to work at the Whitehaven port, and later to work at the iron and coal mines.
25.9.08 Visited Carlisle Record Office mainly to view parish registers for Whitehaven registration district, one of the top Kennedy areas in England (ranking 4th highest registration district for the Kennedy surname in the 1881 census).
19.9.08 BBC Alba, Scotland's new Gaelic TV channel, has opened with presenter Màiri Anna NicUalraig (Mary Ann Kennedy in the lowland tongue) speaking to the nation in Gaelic. What a glorious moment!
16.9.08 Visited East Dunbartonshire Archives in Kirkintilloch to study the Campsie parish pauper rolls.
9.9.08 Want to see 45 Kennedys running in Glasgow?
8.9.08 Results have been published of yesterday's Great Scottish Run in Glasgow. Star once again was Shettleston Harriers' Scott Kennedy who ran a superb 45th place in the half marathon in 1:15:37, followed by Graeme Kennedy 1:22:07, Grant Kennedy 1:36:02, Matt Kennedy 1:39:44, Donald Kennedy 1:42:46, Gerry Kennedy 1:45:15, Linda Kennedy 1:47:26, David Kennedy 1:47:30, Campbell Kennedy 1:49:56, Nick Kennedy 1:50:52, Thomas Kennedy 1:55:47, Trudy Kennedy 1:56:31, Tracy Kennedy 1:57:07, Lesley Kennedy 1:58:08, Sybil Kennedy 1:59:13, Sheila Kennedy 2:04:25, Laura Kennedy 2:05:15, Rosie Kennedy 2:11:17, Scott Charles Kennedy 2:16:37, Suzanne Kennedy 2:17:14, Paula Kennedy 2:19:50, and Sally Kennedy 2:58:13. In the 10km race which ran earlier, finishers were Robert Kennedy 44:52, Iain Kennedy 45:17, John Kennedy 47:29, Colin Kennedy 48:50, Mark Kennedy 49:26, Craig Kennedy 49:59, Trudy Kennedy 50:33, Paul Kennedy 50:43, Glenn Kennedy 53:11, Alan Kennedy 53:14, Arthur Kennedy 53:59, Roslyn Kennedy 54:24, Dawn Kennedy 54:59, Gillian Kennedy 56:32, Audrey Kennedy 58:33, Pamela Kennedy 66:39, Shona Kennedy 67:30, Barbara Kennedy 72:06, Alison Kennedy 74:35, Kathleen Kennedy 74:46, Karen Kennedy 75:18, Dawn Kennedy 90:37 and Rowena Kennedy 104:50. Well done to all! Hope to see you again next year.
3.9.08 The death has been announced of Deborah (Birkbeck) Kennedy, of the Doonholm branch in Ayr, at the age of 90. The family were originally Highlanders from the parish of Logierait in Perthshire but gradually moved south, building a major timber business before becoming land-owners at Doonholm just outside Ayr.
1.9.08 There are now 49 (as of 1.9.08) Kennedy clan members entered in the Great Scottish Run. I have finished transcribing all the 1886 Kennedy birth records (168 in total), surveyed Inveresk cemetery in Musselburgh, the town where my parents spent their early married life, and written up an article about the Kennedy role in the massacre of Glencoe.
Inveresk church, Musselburgh
9.8.2008 The new Kennedy study website is launched!
2.8.08 Scottish singer Fiona Kennedy will be appearing in concert at Glamis Castle on Saturday August 9th. Celtic football player John Kennedy, off for some time with an injury, has been loaned to Norwich AC. Meanwhile across the water Professor Michael Kennedy of UCD has been promoting his new book 'Guarding neutral Ireland'.
2008 news archive
2007 news archive