Recorded as Kennerley, Kennerlley, Kennerleigh, Kennsley, Kennelly, Kingsly, and possibly others, this surname is a good example of an English surname. It is locational and has its origins in the place name Kennerleigh, in Devonshire. This village is first recorded in th year 1219 as Kenewarlegh and means Cyneweard's wood. The derivation is from the pre 7th century personal name Cyneweard, composed of the elements "cyne", meaning royal and "weard", a guardian, with the suffix "leah", meaning a clearing in a forest, suitable for agriculture, in other words a farm.Locational names were usually given to people who had left their original homes, to live or work in another village or town. Given that spe;ling was at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the creation of "sounds like" forms. As examples of recordings we have that of Ann Kennerley who married Thomas Strong on June 13th 1784, at St. Mary's church, Putney, and Alfred Kennelly who was christened at St Andrews Holborn, on July 28th 1867, in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Hugh de Kenardleah. This was dated 1243, in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England but known as "The Frenchman" 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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