This is an Irish surname, but definately one of Scottish and Gaelic origins. It derives from 'Mac Fhionnain' which translates as 'the son of the descendant of the fair one', and is possibly a nickname reference to an early Viking 'settler' of the 9th century a.d.. What is clear is that the surname as shown below is a very early recording in Scotland, whilst the earliest Irish recordings (almost always without the prefix 'Mac') are 17th century, and generally found in the areas of Ireland most associated with 'plantation' policies. The name in Ireland is often confused with Kinane and Keenan, but in fact has no connection with either - except bad spelling! The famous Irish etymologist Maclysaght claims that the name was originally prominent in the counties of Monaghan and Armagh, and that in the 'census' of 1659 (Mc) Kennan was the principal surname of the barony of Ardee in Co. Louth. This may be so but the earliest recordings are found elsewhere, and these include Joanna Kennan who married Thomas Mc Gee at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, on October 20th 1681, and Thomas Kennan, a witness at St Catherines Church, Dublin on January 1st 1703. On December 2nd 1737 Anne Kenan married Andrew Harkness at Antrim, whilst amongst the earliest of the 'Famine Emigrants' of 1846 was Rose Kennan and her two sons Francis 18 years and Edward 16 years, who left Ireland in the ship 'Nonantum of Liverpool' for New York on April 18th of that year. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm KcKenyn, which was dated 1367, a juror at the court of Dumfries, Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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