Recorded over the centuries as le Chene, Ken, le Ken, Kenn, and the apparent diminutives Kennet and Kennett, this is an English surname. It can be either locational from several places and rivers called Kenn or Kennett in the West Country, and specifically Somerset and Devon, or occupational from the training or keeping of dogs. In this latter origin the derivation is from the French word 'chien' introduced by the Normans after 1066, as found in the recordings of Walter le Ken of Cambridge in the Hundred rolls of landowners of that county in 1273, and Thomas le Chene, in the similar Hundred rolls of Norfolk in the same year.As a locational surname the origination is from an Ancient British and Welsh word 'caint', found in the county name of Kent, and without the 't' in the various rivers called Kenn. 'Caint' itself was possibly derived from 'cwn' meaning a dog, although why this should then be used as the name of a river, or the diminutive name of a river, as in the Kennett of Wiltshire and Berkshire, is beyond our comprehension. Early examples of the locational recordings include Nicholas de Kenet of Norfolk in the tax rolls known as the 'Feet of Fines' in 1237, John de Ken of Somerset in the famous research documents called 'Kirby's Quest' in 1273, and later that of John Kenn who was married at Canterbury Cathedral to Mary Bland, in 1670.
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