[I Live in Hope]- History of the surname 'Kinnear'

The ancient family name KINNEAR is believed to be of the Pictish Race. Legend relates this founding race as being settled in North-Eastern Scotland, coming originally from the shores of Brittany about the 15th Century B.C. Migrating, they sailed northwards to Ireland where the Kings of Ireland refused them permission to land and settle, but they were allowed to settle in the Eastern part of Scotland on the condition that all Pictish Kings marry an Irish princess, thus assuring the Irish of a colony which would always be a part of the Irish Royal Court. According to the Venerable Bede, England’s oldest historian born in 673 A.D., this Pictish Settlement established a matriarchal hierarchy which was unique in the annals of British history.

The first Pictish king shown in documented history was Nechtan * about 724 A.D., although there had been many who had fought valiantly at Hadrian’s Wall against the Roman invasion many centuries before. Rivals of the Picts to the West were the Highlanders of the Western Isles who were then constant foes in the battle for supremacy for power over all Scotland, known then as Alba, or Caledonia.

Nechtan was finally expelled from Pictland by Alpin, half Davidian, * half Pict, the result of a political marriage. Alpin’s son, Kenneth MacAlpine became the first recorded King of Scotland as we know it today. The Picts, compressed by the northern invasion of the Vikings, who penetrated as far south as Caithness, sometimes even to Edinburgh, were left with a territory on the eastern coast of Scotland from Inverness south to Edinburgh.

From some of the very early records, researchers examined such records as the Inquisitio,* 1120 A.D., the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, and various other records of Parishes in Scotland. From these archives they produced the early records of the name KINNEAR in Fifeshire, well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

The surname KINNEAR was found in many different forms. In the archives researched, the earliest spelling of the name bore little resemblance to the one now used, but the genealogical connections have been established by experienced historical scholars. Although your name KINNEAR occurred in many references from time to time, the surname was spelled Kinnear, Kynnair, Kenneir, Kinner, Kinnier, Kynnair, MacEnir, MacEnnire, and some of these versions are still used today. These changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son.

Preferences for spelling variations usually either came from a division of the family, or for religious reasons, or sometimes patriotic reasons. Scribes and church people frequently selected their own version of what they thought the spelling should be.

The family name KINNEAR emerged as that of a Scottish clan or family in this territory. More specifically, they developed from their original territories of Fifeshire where they were settled on the lands of KINNEAR. Michael Kinnear was first on record in 1170 A.D. In 1216 A.D. Simon Kinnear held the lands of KINNEAR as confirmed by King Alexander. Sir John Kinnear rendered homage to King Edward I of England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296 A.D. John Kinnear was chief of the clan in the year 1543, succeeding his father David before him. Another John Kinnear succeeded in 1574 as chief of the clan. Notable amongst the clan at this time was Kinnear of Fife.

During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Scotland was ravaged by religious conflict. The newly found passionate fervor of Presbyterianism and the Church of Scotland rejected all who could not pass “The Test” of taking an oath in the belief of the Church. Those failing “The Test” were frequently hanged in the High Street, or more kindly, banished to the Colonies, to Australia, the Carolinas or the Islands.

Meanwhile, the Roman Church still fought to retain its status. Many clansmen were freely “encouraged” to migrate to Ireland. From 1603 to 1790, Scottish clans and families were recruited from the English-Scottish border and north of Edinburgh to populate Northern Ireland with Protestant Stock, faithful to the Crown. Many heads of families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during this period. They became known as the Scotch/Irish. In Ireland they settled in County Wexford where they used the names MacEnire and Kinnear.

The migration or banishment to the New World also continued. Some went voluntarily from Ireland, but most came directly from Scotland, their home territories. Some also moved to the European Continent. They sailed to the New World across the stormy Atlantic aboard the small sailing ships known as “the White Sails”, ships such as the Hector, the Rambler or the Dove. These overcrowded ships, sometimes spending two months at sea, were wracked with disease, frequently landing with only 60% of their original passenger lists.

In North America some of the first migrants who would be considered kinsmen of the surname KINNEAR, or having a variation of the family surname spelling, were John and Elizabeth Kinner, settled in New York with sons Nicholas and Anthony , and daughter Elizabeth ; David Kinnear arrived in Philadelphia in 1844 ; Michael Kinnear settled in Philadelphia in 1873.

From the original ports the immigrants moved westwards - some to the middle west - some across the prairies to the west coast. During the American War of Independence their allegiances were divided. Some remained Americans, while some became United Empire Loyalists and moved north to Canada.

The name was prominent in the Arts, Science, Commerce and the professions. Many prominent people represent this notable name KINNEAR - Ian Kinnear, Trade Commissioner, Nigel Kinnear, Surgeon.

In researching the family coat-of-arms, we have the most ancient grant of arms to the family name. Other grants were made to different branches of the family which may be equally appropriate

The most ancient grant of a coat-of-arms found was black with a gold stripe and three canaries. The crest was two crossed anchors. The ancient family motto for this distinguished family was “I Live In Hope”.

From the Library of the Hall of Names.

* This has been transcribed from a hand-written document and the names so marked are guesses. Thanks to Jim Kinnear Sr. for the transcription.