This interesting and unusual surname, with variant spellings Kensey, Kensie, Kenzie, Kinsey, Kincey, Kinzie etc., derives from the old English pre 7th Century personal name Cynesige, a compound of the elements "cyne", royal, and "sige", victory; hence, "royal-victory". The surname from this source was first recorded in the early 14th Century, (see below). One, William Kynnesay, was vicar of Hitcham, Norfolk, in 1471 and in 1525 a George Kynsey was entered in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. Other 16th Century recordings include Robert Kensaye - "Calendar of the Patent Rolls", Sussex, (1558), and William Chinseie or Kinssee, County of Cheshire, "The Oxford University Register", (1586).On January 2nd 1540 Jone, daughter of Richardi Kensey was christened in St. Martin, Ludgate, London, and on April 1st 1623 William Kensy and Mary Byrd were married in st. Vedast, Foster Lane, London. Occasionally, the surname may derive from residence by the River Kensey in Cornwall, recorded as Kyensy in 1272 and as Kensy in 1306, and named from the old Celtic "kuno", "high". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Kynsei, which was dated 1306, The Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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