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"My Southern Family"

by Hiram Kennedy Douglass

click on name to visit Kennedy Douglass center in Florence, Alabama


The Blackmore Press,
Gillingham, Dorset

Published 1967

©Hiram Kennedy Douglass
Made and Printed in Great Britain
by T.H.Brickell & Son Ltd
The Blackmore Press
Gillingham, Dorset



Creations: March 20, 1457-58, Lord Kennedy; October 1509, Earl of Cassillis in the Peerage of Scotland; November 12, 1806 Baron Ailsa of Ailsa; September 10, 1831, Marquess of Ailsa, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Chief Seat:  Culzean Castle in the County of Ayr.

Arms:    Argent, a chevron gules between three cross crossletts fitches sable, within a double tressure flory counterflory of the second.

Crest:    A dolphin naiant proper.

Supporters: Two swans proper, beaked and membered gules.

Motto:  Avis la fin (consider the end).

    The Kennedy Family has been settled in southwest Scotland, in Ayrshire and western Galloway, for a very long time; they have been a powerful and famous family having much to do with the history of Scotland.  Their domain, one of the most extensive in Scotland, extended from Ayr the county town on the Ayr River, south to Wigtown, during the time of the fourth Earl of Cassillis, Gilbert Kennedy, known as the King of Carrick (died 1576): this almost amounted to a separate kingdom ruled by this great feudal Lord.

" 'Twixt Wigtoune and the town of Airs,
And Laigh down by the Cruves of Cree,
You shall not get a lodging there
Except ye court a Kennedy."

Few Scottish families held such power or owned such a vast domain.
    The name Kennedy is found on almost every page of Lowland history; in peace and war, in literature and the Church they have played their part and have come down to this day in unbroken line.  A Kennedy fought with Joan of Arc; the fourth Earl, King of Carrick, died nobly for Mary, Queen of Scots at Langside; they were at Bannockburn and Flodden and one rode eith the Prince in the Forty-five.  James Kennedy brother of the first Lord Kennedy, was Bishop of Dunkeld and then St. Andrew's and founded in his see city St. Sa;vator College in 1456, was Lord High Chancellor in 1444 and was entrusted with the education of James III, being one of the Regents fo Scotland.  Two of the family were Abbots of Crossraguel, William and Quintin, the latter debating at Maybole with John Knox on the Sacrifice of the Mass.  Walter Kennedy ranks as one of the early Scottish poets; he was born at Cassillis, took his degree at Glasgow University where he ultimately became Rector.  His poem, "Praise of Age," is still remembered.
    Robert the Bruce, born in 1274 at Turnberry, on the Ayrshire coast below Culzean Castle, was made King of the Scots in 1306, aided mightily by his great friend the Good Sir James Douglas; there were men named Kennedy in the region at the time but the family did not come into prominence for some time later.
    I have been over the Kennedy country, have been through Culzean Castle more than once, and have seen standing the many ruins of Kennedy Castles--so many in fact that as the road turns and a ruin comes into view you know without asking that it is a Kennedy ruin; as the family fortunes grew and their numbers increased more castles were built.  Maybole was the capital, the Family had town houses there.  Dunure on the coast above Culzean is one of the oldest seats of the Family; Lockdown is another, and far to the south is the magnificent Castle Kennedy near Stranraer built in 1607 by the fifth Earl of Cassillis.  Their domain is very beautiful country, called Lowland but do not get the idea it is a plain because it is far from flat; there are some quite high points--Merrick is 1,764 feet high.  And strange as it seems this coast is so warmed by the gulf stream that palms grow at Culzean and rhododendron are not finer anywhere than in this area.
    Culzean is one of the finest castles in Great Britain; the present building incorporates some of the o;der structure, and was completed in the time of David, the tenth Earl, who died in 1792, but it had been started by his brother Thomas, the ninth Earl, about twenty years before; both were bachelors.  Robert Adam, the great Scottish architect had charge of the building from the start and found in the brothers men of cultivated tastes and they found in him an artist who developed the scheme of a castle on the cliff into a composition of superb grandeur and dignity; and the interior Adam filled with great beauty--graceful ceilings, fireplaces, doorheads and elegant furniture.  It is said to be the finest thing Robert Adam ever did; and one can easily imagine it.
    Judged by our present-day standards the Kennedy's did some terrible things; but they cannot be judged except by the standard of their time.  They had to supply power for their protection now supplied by government.  They had to be their own law often, even to defying the King; the will of the Earl of Cassillis was sometimes stronger than that of the King!  Also, the Kennedy Family was divided; for two hundred and fifty years the Cassillis and the Bargany branches fueded.  There were times during this period of course when they joined forces against a common enemy but those times were exceptional.  The climax came in 1601 when Gilbert Kennedy head of the Bargany family and whose seat was Ardstinchar Castle near Ballantrae was murdered by the Earl of Cassillis; Bargany was only twenty-five years old and left a son, Thomas, last of the family.  The trouble seems to have started during the time of Sir Gilbert of Dunure; he disinherited his oldest son Gilbert, and the cause was not helped when James, the second son, married in 1405, Princess Mary, daughter of King Robert III.  James was the ancestor of the Cassillis branch of the Family who are the noble branch whereas the Bargany branch was non-noble.  James was killed by Gilbert his disinherited brother!
    It was this spirit of adventure for a cause conceived as just and fought for with valor and according to the rules of the day, that finally asserted itself and sent members of the Family to the far corners of the globe to make their way and make their contribution which has been very considerable.
    And the same trait showed by David, the tenth Earl, when he built Culzean has been evident in the Kennedys of my family descended from the Earl of Cassillis; love of the beautiful, for the good things, for the arts, for making beautiful homes. beautifully furnished.  There have been artists of various sorts and my David and Alexander excelled in making with precision, guns of the highest order.
    The first direct ancestor of the Family from whom there is undoubted and unbroken proof of descent is Sir John Kennedy of Dunure, who is of record from the mid-1300's.  Before him authorities disagree on several points; who was the first Kennedy?  Where did the name come from?  I have studied three sources chiefly, The Peerage of Scotland by Sir Robert Douglas, Pitcairn's Earl of Cassillis and Carrick-Gallovidian published in 1947 by John Kevan McDowall a Glasgow attorney who is a Kennedy descendant who spent thirty years studying the family history.  McDowall also made an extensive study of Scottish names and words, going into their derivations; and although he departs from accepted accounts he has to be considered.  He descended from the Bargany branch of the Family.
    Pitcairn says the name Kennedy seems derived from Kenneth, a common name among both Pictish and Scottish kings, although the spelling varied; Kened, Cinaed, Cinaeda, Kynedus, Kynel, and that the modern Gaelic of Kennedy is Ceannadach; he also says in the very early days of Carrick the form of the name was MacKenede or son of Kenneth.  McDowall gives Cinneadais as the Gaelic form and says it means; of the same clan, tribe, surname, a relative, kin, kindred, progeny, offspring.  Pitcairn names Henry Kennedy as the first of the name; he fell in battle July 5, 1185 in Galloway having been sent there by King William the Lion. McDowall identified this Henry as the first Kennedy also goes further and says he was brother of the King; that the gaelic, Cinneadais really in this case means "the brother of the King".  This is an entirely new claim; if true it means Henry Kennedy, first of the name, was grandson of King David of Scotland, and great grandson of Malcolm III and St. Margaret, and descended from the ancient Scottish Kings and the Saxon Kings of England.
    Sir John Kennedy of Dunure of whom we are sure died two hundred years after Henry Kennedy, in 1385, and McDowall names eight others of the name who come between the two without attempting to connect them, as father and son; among them, Canon Alexander Kennedy of Glasgow, 1272 and Sir Hugh, who possessed lands in Lanarkshire in 1296.  But he is sure Sir John descended from Henry.
    This is not the position of the Peerage (Pitcairn starts the lineage with Sir John without hinting of his descent) and apparently the Culzean family agree with the Peerage in a general way, which says the Family descends from the ancient Earls of Carrick, starting with Duncan de Carrick of the early thirteenth century and that it was suring the time of his sescendant Gilbert de Carrick, knight, in the early fourteenth century that the family assumed the name Kennedy--and that Canon Alexander Kennedy is the first on record--and that Sir John Kennedy of Dunure was the son of Sir Gilbert de Carrick.  The Peerage also states that the name of Sir John's wife is not known but Pitcairn says her name was Mary(de Carrick or Douglas?).  McDowall states plainly that she was Mary de Carrick but a minor branch of that family and not a descendant of the ancient Earls of Carrick.
    In addition to his valuable book, McDowall made a vast genealogical chart (eight feet long and two and a half feet wide) which has been of inestimable value to me; he shows all the branches of the Family bringing the lines down to the present day, showing those members who settled in Camden, South Carolina, Chicago and Guelph, Ontario and California.  And with the data in the Bible of David Kennedy, my great great grandfather, in which he goes back to his great grandfather who left Scotland for Ireland, I was able to connect our family with the ancient Scottish Family.  All these, except ours, shown on the chart to come to America, are from the Bargany branch of the Family.
    Both the Peerage and Pitcairn are of course concerned chiefly with the Cassillis or noble branch of the Family; naturally the records of Culzean Castle are solely concerned with their line whom they consider the Family.  Drawing from several sources, I make the following lineage of the Kennedy Family as proven by records:

To the Kennedy Family of Lauderdale County, Alabama

This is the "Kennedy Tartan" © 2000, R.M.Leland III