The Kennedy family became associated with the south-west of Scotland when 'Cunedda', (which means 'grim-headed'), a chieftain of the Votadini (located in what is now Lothian) was sent to establish settlements there at a time when Gaelic was the main language there. The name is particularly associated with Carrick in Ayrshire>. In early times it was a forename and therefore is found initially as 'MacKenedi' and the name is found as early as the reign of William the Lion> (1165-1214). The Kennedy's claimed to be related to the Earls of Carrick and supported Robert the Bruce> who came from that line. In 1372, King Robert II confirmed John Kennedy of Dunure as chief of the clan and in 1457 John's direct descendant, Gilbert, was created Lord Kennedy. He was one of the regents of the infant King James III>. The 3rd Lord Kennedy was created Earl of Cassillis but died four years later at the Battle of Flodden> in 1513. The 10th Earl of Cassillis engaged Robert Adam> to build the magnificent Culzean Castle> at the end of the 18th century. The 11th Earl had settled in America and although he tried to be impartial in the War of Independence, many of his New York properties were confiscated, including Number 1, Broadway which was taken over by George Washington. In the Napoleonic Wars>, Sir Clark Kennedy personally captured the eagle and colours of the 105th Regiment of French Infantry at the Battle of Waterloo.
Kennedys spread to other parts of Scotland, in particular to Morayshire and Perthshire. Another branch settled in Lochaber and Skye where they became known as Clan Ulric and became a sept of Clan Cameron>. The Kennedy name also arose in Ireland (notably the ancestors of President John F Kennedy) and many Irish Kennedys emigrated to Scotland.
The clan motto is "Avise la fin" (Consider the end).
The Carrick and Cassels families are regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Kennedys.
Kennedy was the 58th most frequent surname at the General Register Office> in 1995.
There is a Kennedy family Web Site> and a Kennedy "One Name Study" site with a large amount of genealogical data.
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