This is a locational surname of olde English pre 7th century origins. It probably originates from a site (now lost) called 'Cynges leah' of similar, which either refers to a place (leah) owned by 'the king'(cynge), or a more likely explanation is a farmstead occupied by members of the 'Cena tribe'. These people who descended from the original Britons, were prominent in the East Anglian region, and specifically Norfolk long before the Norman Invasion of 1066. What is almost certain is that no recognisable place called 'Ken(n)ingley' unless it is the modern 'Kenley' in Suffolk, seems to exist today, and if this is so, then the surname is the only surviving memory of the place itself. At least five thousand surnames in the British Isles are known to originate in now 'lost' places, so whilst this is a rare phenomena accounting for perhaps five percent of all surnames, it is not entirely unusual. What is strange is the relative paucity of early proven surname recordings. These may include John Kenningell of Cursey, Suffolk, on September 17th 1699, and definitely that of Anne Kinningsley, christened at St Luke's Church, Old Street, Finsbury, on March 3rd 1749. In the first named recording below John Keningley married one Phillipa Mosley. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Keningley, which was dated October 20th 1668, who married at St James Church, Clerkenwell, London, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as 'The Merry Monarch', 1660 - 1685. 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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