Recorded in the 'modern' spellings of Kennet and Kennett, this is an English surname. It appears to be locational from either residence by the River Kennet in the county of Suffolk or from the village of Kennett in Cambridgeshire, or from similarly names villages in Wiltshire. The meaning is obscure, but is believed to be from Olde English 'canto' meaning a boundary. The earliest example of the surname from either of these sources would seem to be that of Peter de Kenet of Norfolk, in the tax rolls known as the 'Feet of Fines' in the year 1237, with another Peter de kenet appearing in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of the county of Wiltshire in the year 1273. However according to the famous Victorian etymologist, Canon Charles Bardsley, it seems that the name may also have been a nickname. If so it is from the Middle English word 'kenet' meaning a small hound dog. An early reference to this animal appears in the medieval dictionary known as Promptus Parva as 'Kenet, a hownde, caniculus'. The drawback to the possibility of this surname ever having been a nickname, is that the use of the preposition 'de' implying land ownership, is in all the early recordings. These are from the very begining of the appearance of the name in the 13th century, as shown, through to Elizabethan times in the 16th century. Later examples include William Kennett who married Barbara Eglesfield in London in 1586, whilst Richard Clark and Susanna Kennett where married at Colchester in Essex ten years later in 1596.
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