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The Kenefeck Family Website

Kenefeck Family Tree


Home Family Tree Robert Kenefeck Kenfig origins Pipe Roll of Cloyne

This page is devoted to Tony's family history. A family tree has now been added and hopefully this will continue to grow over the years as we continue to uncover more forgotten ancestors.  To protect the privacy of those still alive and who would be unaware of their inclusion in this I have removed first names but left other publicly available information in.  Hopefully this will offend no one but if it does (or I have got some detail wrong) please e-mail me (address on homepage).

Research is under way and some info about Tony's great grandfather is known, Robert Kenefeck.  Robert was the starting point for our research as Tony's father had various papers passed down by his father, Sam.  These papers were still in readable condition but  frayed at the edges.  Copies of these documents are viewable by following the links in the pages that follow.

We spent some time since trying to build on these details.  A search on the internet at Christmas 2000 for variations on the name led to a place in East Cork called Ballykenefick.  As our name is extremely rare and frequently misspelled, it seemed very likely that there would be some link to this place.  When holiday plans for May half-term changed, we decided to visit the area.  Few leads were found except another linked name in Garranekennefeake. But it prompted more research and from a further internet search we came up with links to other Kenefick variations.  We also found some information on the history of the name, in that it seemed accepted fact that it came from Wales but not why or how.

This led to a lot of homework on the history's of Ireland and Wales.  We have now concluded that the original Kenefeck's were knights with the Norman invasion force who arrived in Ireland in 1169.  This force was led by a number of Lords from Wales, and an important Norman stronghold in South Wales at the time was the now disappeared Kenfig.  You can still find this on a map, on the coast just along from Bridgend, with the M4 running alongside the site.  The town itself disappeared under the sands in the 1700's.

We have no knowledge of where these knights originated from before this.  The Normans had only been in Wales for about 100 years (remember 1066 ) and surnames only became popular from about 1150 onwards.  The most common form of surname was to adopt the name for the location where you lived - so the Kenfig's were born.  As few people could read or write the name spelling changes but sounds the same.

The early Kenfig's are associated with the Fitzgerald lords who led the main invasion forces and would probably have been rewarded with land distributed by Maurice Fitzgerald. This family go on to become one of the most influential and dominant forces in Irish history for the next 400 years - becoming the Earls of Desmond.  Unfortunately they eventually clashed with first Elizabeth 1 and then Cromwell.  As a result they and their supporters lost their lands, in many cases being thrown out to wander the countryside.  It is quite likely that this fate befell any Kenefeck families around.

Most occurrences of the name are found in East Cork, associated with Fitzgerald holdings.  The furthest back we have been able to go with our name so far takes us to Robert's father, James.  He is listed in the 1851 census as born in Limerick, and his wife born in Tipperary. James was born around 1790 but we don't yet know when he came to England to live, except Robert was born in Marylebone, London in 1829.  We have found a Jeremiah Kenefeck living in Doon, Limerick in 1850 who could be a relative (Doon is right on the Limerick/Tipperary border) so more investigation in Ireland beckons here. The more research we do, the more references to Kenefeck (or variations) in this area and it would appear that was another Desmond stronghold.

We are now beginning to build up quite a picture of the Kenefeck family alive in London during the period 1850 - 1901, although each new ancestor generates more questions as to what happened to them and their descendents.

We have found one other Kenefeck family still living in the UK and are trying to establish a connection between us to see if we share a common ancestor.  We have also found some links to USA but these probably go back even further.  Nowadays the original Kenfig name is spelt a number of ways - Kenefick, Kenefec, Kennefick, Kennifick, Kenefake.  It could easily be that any one of these names are related to us a few centuries back as the spelling changed - the Kenefake name derived from one family where brothers spelt it one way but their sister spelt her name Kenefeck !

For more info, see these documents.

Kenfig Origins    An article written by Barrie Griffiths of the Kenfig Society, who maintain details of the history of the town. The Kenfig Society have their own website -

Pipe Roll of Cloyne    Extract from The Pipe Roll of Cloyne (Rotulus Pipae Clonensis), a translation edited by Paul MacCotter and Kenneth Nichols, published by Cloyne Literary and Historical Society 1996. 

The Pipe Roll of Cloyne was an ancient parchment roll 17 feet 8 inches long by 7 inches wide, relating to transfers of the possessions of the See of Cloyne. The name was taken from the circular case (pipe) it was kept in. It was started in 1364 as a rental of the See of Cloyne by Bishop John de Swaffham.  Documents of earlier age were also inserted, one of which is this passage relating to John de Kenyfeak. The Latin text was published in 1859. A new and revised edition with English translation was published in 1996, making this rich store of social and family history, more readily accessible. The notes section expands this by drawing on other historical documents found by the authors.  Unfortunately the original document was destroyed in the Dublin Record Office destruction of 1922 and only the translation by Richard Caulfield of 1859 remains.

Knights' Fees in County Kilkenny Ireland  Further occurrences of the de Kenefeg name, confirming their knight status and links to Maurice Fitzgerald and the Clare family.

History of the Barony of Shillelogher  Similar background to the above, this time the name spelt as Kenfeg