Inverness Surnames: Kennedy

Copyright © 2007 Iain Kennedy


In 1895 William MacBain wrote thus:

'In pursuing my researches into Highland proper names in connection with a dictionary of Gaelic entymology now in the press, I was lately induced to turn aside to lecture on the Inverness town names, whether Highland or Lowland; from the lecture arose a series of newspaper articles and these, with considerable additions, form the present volume.
The book and its subject - the names of one single town - are as far as I know, unique in Scotland; and 'furth' of Scotland I know only of Mr Bardsley's 'Romance of the London directory' which professes to deal with the names of an individual city ...

Other more common personal names are used as surnames, derived mostly from non-English sources. .. There are several Gaelic and Irish personal names or surnames:- Kennedy (head-protector), ...'

The author then went on to analyse all the surnames occurring in the town directory of that time, of which there were around 750 different entries. The ranking looked like this, in part:

Cameron ...

Kennedy was 49th equal with 16 entries

MacBain's translation of the name Kennedy as 'head-protector' is a new variation, although close to the 'helmet-headed' beloved of the Irish Kennedys.

Reference: 'Inverness Names - Personal Names and Surnames of the town of Inverness', William MacBain, 1895. Viewed at the National Library of Scotland at Edinburgh, 19th October 2006.