Clan Kennedy

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Clan Kennedy
MacUalraig (Surname), Ceannaideach (Surname), Ceannaideach (Singular), Clann 'icUalraig (Collective)
Clan member crest badge - Clan Kennedy.svg
Crest: A dolphin naiant proper
MottoAvise la fin (Consider the end)
Plant badgeoak
Marquess of Ailsa COA.svg
The Most Hon. David Kennedy
The 9th Marquess of Ailsa
SeatCassillis House
Historic seatDunure Castle
Culzean Castle
Septs of Clan Kennedy
Cassels,[1] Cassillis,[1] Cassell,[1] MacOurlick,[1] MacUlric,[1] MacUlrick,[1] Ulric[1]
Clan branches
Kennedy of Cassillis (chiefs)[2]
Kennedys of Kermuck[2]
Kennedys of Moray[2]
Kennedys of Bargany.[2]
Allied clans
Rival clans

Clan Kennedy is a Scottish clan of the Scottish Lowlands.[2]


Origins of the clan[edit]

The Votadini were a tribe in Lothian and their chief, Cunedda, was sent by the British leader, Vortigern, to establish settlements in order to resist Picto-Scottish sea raids in the south west of Scotland.[2] These settlements spread down the west coast as far as Wales.[2] Cunedda is rendered as Cinneidgh in the Celtic language, meaning ugly or grim-headed.[2] The name became associated with the district of Carrick, Scotland.[2]

During the early part of the reign of William the Lion, Gilbert Mac Kenedi witnessed a charter to Melrose Abbey granting lands in Carrick.[2] During the reign of Alexander II of Scotland Gillespie Kennedy is named in charters as the senechal of Carrick.[2]

Wars of Scottish Independence[edit]

Kennedys supported Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Scottish Independence.[2] Kennedys inherited the Earldom of Carrick from the line of Sir John Kennedy of Dunure's wife, Mary de Carrick, who descended from Sir Gilbert De Carrick.[3] In 1372, Robert II of Scotland rewarded John Kennedy of Dunure as chief of his name and baillie of Carrick.[2]

15th and 16th centuries[edit]

"Ulric". A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845. Carrick was in the Scottish Lowlands

In about 1457 John's direct descendant, Gillbert, was created Lord Kennedy.[2] He was also a regent to the infant James III of Scotland.[2] James Kennedy, brother of the first Lord Kennedy, was one of Scotland's best loved bishops.[2] James served briefly as High Chancellor of Scotland and was also Bishop of Dunkeld, and also later Archbishop of St Andrews.[2] In 1455 he founded St Salvator's College.[2]

Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar was a Scots mercenary who fought at the Siege of Orléans for Joan of Arc.[2] As a result, Joan figures on the arms of Kennedy of Bargany.[2]

In 1509, Sir David Kennedy, the third Lord Kennedy was created Earl of Cassillis.[2] He was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.[2] The second Earl of Cassillis was murdered in 1527.[2] Gillbert Kennedy, the third Earl, was one of four Scottish commissioners who were poisoned on their return from the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the Dauphin of France in 1558.[2] The third Earl had inherited his title at the age of twelve and one of his first acts was to sign the death warrant of Patrick Hamilton, the first Scottish Protestant martyr.[2]

The Moray Kennedys were a branch of the clan who travelled north with the sister of the third Lord Kennedy, Janet Kennedy who had a son by James IV of Scotland, as part of the possession of the earldom of Moray.[2] The Moray Kennedys became a sept of the Clan Cameron.[2]

17th century and Civil War[edit]

In 1601 the Kennedy Earls of Cassilis were involved in a feud against their relations, the Kennedy Lairds of Bargany.[4] The Earls of Cassillis were supported by the Clan Fergusson and the Laird of Bargany was killed.[4]

From 1649 to 1651, John Kennedy, 6th Earl of Cassilis was Lord Justice General of Scotland and a zealous Protestant.[2] He and his son, the seventh Earl, were both firm supporters of Parliament during the Civil War.[2] The Justice General also sat in Oliver Cromwell's House of Lords.[2] The Kennedys suffered for their beliefs but their estates remained largely intact.[2]

The Kennedy of Kermuck branch of the clan were hereditary constables of Aberdeen from at least 1413.[2] The Kennedys of Kermuck were outlawed when in 1652 the father and son of the family mortally wounded John Forbes of Watertown.[2]

18th and 19th centuries[edit]

When the Eighth Earl of Cassillis died there was a court dispute lasting three years to determine the succession.[2] The titles and estates of the Kennedys were claimed by William Douglas, afterwards duke of Queensberry, a great grandson in the female line of the 7th earl and also by Sir Thomas Kennedy, Bart., of Culzean, a descendant of the 3rd earl, i.e. by the heir general and the heir male. In January 1762, the House of Lords found in favour of Thomas.[2][5] On 30 November 1775, Thomas died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother David, who commissioned Robert Adam to build Culzean Castle, and died unmarried on 18 December 1792.[2][5]

With David, the baronetcy became extinct. The earldom of Cassillis now passed to a cousin, Archibald Kennedy, a captain in the royal navy, whose father, Archibald Kennedy (died 1763), had migrated to America in 1722 and had become collector of customs in New York. His son, the 11th earl, had estates in New Jersey and married an American heiress; in 1765 he was said to own more houses in New York than any one else. He died in London on 30 December 1794, and was succeeded by his son Archibald (1770–1846), who was created Baron Ailsa in 1806 and marquess of Ailsa in 1831. His great-grandson Archibald (born 1847) became 3rd marquess.[5]

The 1st Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 Capture of the Eagle

Lieutenant General Sir Clark Kennedy served through the entire Peninsular War and in 1815 he commanded the centre squadron of the Royal Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo.[2] At Waterloo he personally captured the eagle and colours of the 105th Regiment of French Infantry.[2] Sir Clark was from the Kennedy of Moray branch of the clan.[2]

20th century[edit]

The lawyer, historian, author and campaigner for the righting of legal injustice, Ludovic Kennedy was a notable member of the Kennedy clan. In his collected writings, he recalls the story of his forebear, Captain Archibald Kennedy returning from New York at the end of the 18C to Culzean Castle to assume the earldom of Cassillis [6]


Cassillis House, Scottish Lowlands. Seat of the Chiefs of Clan Kennedy. Photo by Mary and Angus Hogg

Base of Scottish family tree[edit]

Here is the base of the family tree:

  • John Kennedy of Dunure and Cassillis M Heiress of the Carrick Earls

Scottish chief[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kennedy Society of North America, Septs
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 182 - 183.
  3. ^ Records of the family of Cassels and connexions pg 4
  4. ^ a b Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 136 - 137.
  5. ^ a b c  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kennedy". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Ludovic (1991). Truth to tell : the collected writings of Ludovic Kennedy. London: Bantam Press. ISBN 0-593-02324-2. OCLC 26929211.
  7. ^

External links[edit]