Accounts vary as to the origin of the name Kennedy:

  • It is a derivation of the name Kenneth, which means “fire born; good-looking”
  • It comes from Cunneda, a Voltadini chief from the Lothian area who was sent to resist Pictish sea raids in southwest Scotland
  • Cunneda is translated into Gaelic as Cinnedigh or Ceannaideach, which have such disparate translations as “head of the tribe or clan” to “grim/big/ugly headed”

Regardless, the name has long been associated with Ayrshire, and particularly in Carrick. Similar to the origins of the name itself, its spellings have variations. In addition to the most used form, others are:

  • Canady
  • Kennady
  • Kenady
  • Kenedi
  • Cannaday
  • Kanaday

The differences in spellings are due to a variety of reasons, including pronunciation and respective family history.

A sept is a family “sub-branch” that can be related to a clan for various reasons – for example, through marriage, or through a small family seeking protection from a more powerful neighbor. 

The Kennedy septs are:

  • Cassels
  • Cassillis
  • Cassell
  • Carrick
  • MacOurlick
  • MacUlric
  • MacUlrick
  • Ulric