Henry Kennedy d. 1185

An expanded short note by Iain Kennedy

Copyright © 2007 Iain Kennedy

July 18th, 2007 (additions)


The work of Bower which I earlier quoted (see below) was based on that of John of Fordun. There is little difference between them in the key text on 'Henry' but such as it is, I include it now. The text is taken from the William Skene version for which the Latin to English translation was done by William's nephew Felix Skene, published in Edinburgh in 1872. The original Fordun was written c. 1385. Note the final letter 'e' in 'Kenede' which Bower changed to a 'y'.

Vi p269

Quo defuncto, Rotholandus, filius Ochtredi, regio fultus auxilio, congregato exercitu suo, IIII nonas Julii, feria v, bellum commisit cum Gilpatricio, et Henrico Kenede, et Samuele, et aliis quamplurimis Galwalensibus, qui totius hostilitatis at guerrae tempore Gilberti incentores et causa totalis extiterant. In quo conflictu praedicti nequitiae fautores, cum suis complicibus, et aliis numero non paucis, Domino sibi digna pro meritis retribuente, gladio vindictae perierunt.



Upon his death, Ochtred's son, Rotholand, upheld by the king's help gathered his army together and on thursday the 4th of july fought a battle with Gilpatrick and Henry Kennedy and Samuel, and a great many Gallwegians who in gilbert's time had been the instigators and whole cause of all the hostile feeling and war. In this struggle, the aforesaid fosterers of wickedness with their abettors and others not a few, perished by the avenger's sword; and the Lord requited them worthily after their deserts.

Bowers Scotichronicon Volume 4 (Watts, Aberdeen University Press 1994)

Book viii pp366-367

Chapter 39

De mutuis cede at bellis in regno tempore captivitatis regis

Quo defuncto Rotholandus filius Ochtredi regio fultus auxilio congregato exercitu suo iiii non' julii feria quinta bellum commisit cum Gilpatricio et Henrico Kenedy necnon Samuele et eorum fautoribus quamplurimis | Galwalensibus qui tempore dicit Gilberti tocius hostilitatis at guerre incentories extiterant. In quo quidem conflictu hii armidoctores sceleratissimi cum suis complicibus Domino sibi digna pro meritis tribuente gladio simul vindice perierunt.


The mutual slaughter and wars in the kingdom at the time of the king's captivity


On Gilbert's death Roland son of Uhtred with the help of the king gathered together his army and on Thursday 4 July engaged in battle Gilpatrick, and Henry Kennedy and Samuel, and their supporters from Galloway in very large numbers. They had been ringleaders in all the fighting and warfare in the time of the aforesaid Gilbert. In this battle these most evil commanders perished together along with their accomplices, slain by an avenging sword. For the Lord inflicted well-deserved retribution on them.

In the annotations, Professor Watts says this of the above text:

Chapter 39

For the first time since chapter 28 Bower returns for the bulk of this chapter to Fordun (268-9 annal 17) which is followed almost exactly ...

Lines 8-40 [it should ... be killed inc. whole of Henry Kennedy battle] The revolts in Galloway described here and in chapter 40 below are noted only very briefly in Melrose (45) and not at all in Holyrood. Fordun's text is followed closely here and with some additions by Bower in chapter 40, has some similarities to the Melrose text but has also the sense of the narrative in Benedict (AMW 254-6, 262-5, SAEC 287-90; see discussion of events in Duncan, Kingdom, 33-4; cf also above c 22, ii.45-52 and c 25 ii.1-14)

Of the main protagonists in the battle:

Gilpatrick - not identified

Henry Kennedy - 'probably but not assuredly from the family that later became Earls of Cassilis (SP ii 443-4)' - [however see further different comments by Watts below!]

Samuel - not identified

December 26th, 2006

One of the earliest men in recorded Scottish history to bear the name Kennedy was Henry Kennedy who was said to have been killed in battle in 1185 by Roland de Carrick. What are the sources for this story and who exactly was he?

The Melrose Chronicle has this to say about the battle:

1185 A battle was fought in Galloway upon the fourth of the nones of July being the fifth day of the week between Roland and Gillepatric in which many were killed on the side of the latter and he himself was slain with the rest. Roland fought a second battle against Gillecolm in which Roland's brother fell and Gillecolm was killed.

The event is also described in Bower's Scotichronicon (Bower lifted the account from Fordun whose earlier work he was continuator for) where Henry Kennedy is named as one of Roland's victims. Emeritus Professor Watts of Aberdeen University was kind enough to include the Henry Kennedy passage in his one-volume highlights book:

Bower, Walter. A History Book for Scots: Selections from Scotichronicon. Edited by D.E.R. Watt. Edinburgh: The Mercat Press, 1998

It has been suggested or claimed that this Henry was brother to William the Lion but I can find no convincing evidence of this. Indeed Professor Watts states at the head of the text describing the battle that none of Roland's adversaries have been positively identified. I can find no serious historian who backs up the royal claim, for example DDR Owen in 'William the Lion : kingship and culture 1143-1214' states that William was one of three brothers, Malcolm, William and David. Keith Stringer's article on the family in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography doesn't mention him, nor does Dr. Richard Oram (whose Ph.D. was on medieval Galloway) in 'Kings and Queens of Scotland'.