The Scottish parochial register entries for Kennedy and variants
A complete analysis of all the Kennedy and variant surname births/baptisms from the parochial registers for Scotland 1553 to 1854.
December 29th, 2008
Copyright © 2008 Iain Kennedy
Using the Soundex option, a total of 12488 records were returned. Two points should immediately be raised, to qualify this total.
1. There is some minor duplication of records - in particular births from Tingwall in Shetland appear multiple times.
2. The Soundex option returns variants that are unlikely to be genuine variants of the modern surname Kennedy. The listing below shows each surname count, with the dubious Soundex variations in italics, for the variants which occurred in double figures - the full total of variants was 106.
Ranking by surname variation
Rankings by parish
|Kingussie and Insh|
The above table shows the top 10 parishes plus the two main urban centres which come out top. There are no major surprises in the list, which show the joint Kennedy centres of the Argyll-Inverness-north Perthshire group (Kingussie, Logierait, Dull, Tyree and Kilmallie) and the Carrick branch (Maybole, Ayr, Straiton, Kirkmichael and Dailly). The former group are all known to have used the Gaelic alias MacUalraig and are regarded as having a common origin.
This list is deceptive though because the parishes are not being compared over the same time period; a better list would normalise the figures to give a ranking of Kennedy births per year the register was maintained. Whilst the obvious technique might seem to be to take the figures up to 1854, the last year before civil registration, this would be quite insufficient especially in the Highlands. This is due to the great 1843 Disruption when a large part of the Church of Scotland broke off to form the Free Church of Scotland. The impact of this movement on genealogy was highly significant as it meant that families disappeared from the Kirk registers; if they appear anywhere they lie in the records of the Free Church which are mostly held in the CH3 and CH13/CH16 collections at the National Archives. The counties most effected in this project are Ross & Cromarty and Inverness. Particular mention should be made of the great Kennedy population of Lochs parish on Lewis; their Kirk register only dates from 1831 and as one of the staunchest of the 'Free' parishes, not a single birth is recorded in the OPR past 1843.
Parishes ranked by Kennedy births per year
The following table shows parish counts normalised by duration of register and shows the 18 parishes which averaged over 1 Kennedy birth per year the register was kept. Broadly speaking it is the same set as in the previous table but several key (Highland) parishes with late starting registers and/or who broke from the Kirk are brought back to the fore. Note particularly Fortingall, Lochs and Kilmonivaig; and the much more obvious dominance of Kingussie. The latter also comes out top for Kennedy births in a year, with 12 born in 1753.
Our two big branches form contiguous blocks on the ground: Kingussie-Laggan-Kilmonivaig-Fortingall-Dull-Logierait in the Highlands, and Ayr-Maybole-Kirkoswald-Kirkmichael-Dailly-Straiton in Carrick.
|Kingussie and Insh|
The forenames are quite different in the Highland and Lowland branches (and different again when the Irish immigrant branches start to dominate later in the 19th century) so separate tables are shown.
Highland Kennedy males (Inverness, Perth, Ross/Cromarty and Argyll counties)*
Lowland Kennedy males (all other counties)
For comparison, Donald dropped from 2nd to 17th in the Lowlands and Thomas dropped from 5th to 15th in the Highlands.
It is hard to imagine anyone in the Kennedy heartlands in the north naming their child George (9th Lowland name), especially after the Government annexed all the Kennedy lands after the failed '45 uprising and installed an army barracks called George Town at the end of Loch Rannoch to keep them in check (named of course after King George II). There is just one George Kennedy apiece in counties Argyll and Ross & Cromarty with 5 in Inverness. Of the 7 George Kennedys in the hybrid county of Perth, 6 are in lowland parishes with only a sole late birth in Kirkmichael in 1850 even approaching Kennedy territory.