This is both an Irish and Scottish surname. Recorded in a number of spellings including Kenan, Kennan, Kinnan, Kinnin, and others it derives from the pre 10th century Olde Gaelic 'Mac Fhionnain' which translates as 'the son of the descendant of the fair one'. This is possibly a nickname reference to an early Viking 'settler' of the 9th century a.d., since they were fair haired. The name in Ireland is often confused with Kinane and Keenan, but in fact has no connection with either - except bad spelling! The name in Scotland has generally retained the "Mac or Mc" prefix but not in Ireland. 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 as Kennan was the principal surname of the barony of Ardee in County Louth. The earliest recordings include in Scotland Willam M'Kennane and Andrew McKenen of Kirkcubright in the year 1542, and in Ireland Joanna Kennan who married Thomas McGee at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, on October 20th 1681. Thomas Kennan was a witness at St Catherines Church, Dublin on January 1st 1703 whilst John Kinnin was amongst the earliest of the 'Famine Emigrants' from Ireland when he left Belfast on the ship Ashburton bound for New York on April 18th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm KcKenyn, which was dated 1367, a juror at the assize court of Dumfries, Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371.
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