This unusual and very interesting surname, noted in medieval records of the Irish province of Leinster from the late 13th Century, is ultimately of Welsh locational origin, from the parish and ancient town of Kenfig, north of Porthcawl in Glamorgan. The place is believed to have been so called from "Gynfrig", an Old Welsh personal name composed of the elements "cyn", a chief, "(gw)r", man or hero, plus the suffix of quality "ig". This urname was introduced into Ireland soon after the Anglo-Norman Invasion of 1170, led by Strongbow, a Norman living in Wales, and initially had the prefix "de" denoting "of Kenfig".Many references to people of the name are to be found in late 13th Century records relating to the city of Dublin, and to the Leinster counties of Louth, Kildare and Kilkenny. The surname was Gaelicized "Cinipheic", and is now widespread in Munster, especially County Cork. It occurs as "Kenefeake" in the Kinsale Presentments of 1712, and in the modern idiom is also spelt: Kennefick, Kennifeck and Kenafaque. On February 25th 1864, a son, Thomas, was born to John Kenefick and Mary Ryan, in Kinsale, County Cork, and on June 4th 1864, the birth of one Mary Kenefick was recorded in Youghal District, County Cork. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of de Kinfig, which was dated circa 1270, in "Medieval Records of Dublin City", Ireland, during the reign of Cathal Craobhdearg, "Red Hand", High King of Ireland, 1198 - 1224. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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