Clan Kennedy history - Scotland Magazine

Clan Kennedy history

Clan Kennedy, who ruled much of Ayrshire, employed extreme measures to get what they wanted

There are conflicting accounts about Clan Kennedy’s origins. One story tells of Cêndetig who crossed from Ireland. Another tells of a Votadini prince called Cunedda, who settled in the southwest, while a third claims that the progenitor was a man from the Western Isles called Mackenede, meaning ‘son
of Kenneth’. 

Regardless of the exact origins, the family became a dominant force in southern Ayrshire, and as their power grew, so too did their influence. Sir James Kennedy (1376-1408) married Mary Stewart, daughter of Robert III of Scotland and in 1558 Gilbert Kennedy, the 3rd Earl of Cassilis, was present at the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Dauphin of France. However, it is the 3rd Earl’s son, also Gilbert, the 4th Earl of Cassilis, who is linked to one of the clan’s most notorious stories: the ‘Roasting of the Abbot’. In 1570, the 4th Earl coveted the lands of Crossraguel Abbey in Ayrshire, administered by Allan Stewart, and so he had Stewart tied to a spit and roasted over a fire until he signed over the lands.

Between 1777 and 1792, the present-day Culzean Castle was built by the 10th Earl of Cassilis. It is one of the showpieces of Scotland. The present clan chief is David Kennedy, 9th Marquis of Ailsa. 

There are at least nine registered Kennedy tartans, with three of them being called Kennedy Ancient and three Kennedy Modern.
The clan crest is a “dolphin naiant proper” and the motto “Avise la Fin” (“Consider the End”).

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