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Clan Kinnear

Kinnear are a Scottish family or kin-group who do not have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon and are therefore considered an armigerous clan.

Arms of Kinnear as reproduced in the Kinnears and their Kin (1916)


The lands named Kinnear are near Wormit in Fife. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 410</ref> The name is probably derived from the Gaelic ceann iar or 'west headland'. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 173</ref>

During the reign of Malcolm IV (1153-65) a family of Norman origin was established in the north of Fife as vassals of the priory of St. Andrews. <ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 173</ref>

Black lists Symon, son of Michael giving land from his holdings at Cathelai to the church of St. Andrews. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 410</ref>

Middle Ages

Between 1243 and 1260, Amy, wife of Simon of Kinnear gifted land. <ref>PoMS no. 321 ( accessed 16th May 2014) </ref>

During the 1250's Simon of Kinnear, son of Simon, gifted further lands. <ref>PoMS no. 321 ( accessed 16th May 2014)</ref>

By 1296 Sir John de Kyner was important enough to have his name included in the Ragman Roll. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 410</ref>

Sixteenth Century

In 1560 David Kinneir of Kinneir was a member of the Scottish parliament. He died in 1584 aged 63. <ref>Siggins White, Kinnear and their Kin, 4</ref>

Henry Kinneir of Kinneir was appointed commendator of Balmarino Abbey in 1574. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 410</ref> John Kinneir of that Ilk was afterwards appointed his Ballie.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 410</ref>

By this time the family had the monopoly of ferry crossings of the Tay at what is now Newport. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 173</ref>

Seventeenth Century and diaspora

In 1672 David Kinnear of Kinnear registered arms. <ref>The Kinnear Family, 4</ref> However, his successor, James Kinnear evidently became caught in the religious conflicts of the time. He was excommunicated by the Catholic church (!) and was forced to emmigrate to Ireland.<ref>Siggins White, Kinnear and their Kin, 4</ref>

In 1682 James Kinnear family left Scotland to settle in Derry-Londonderry. In 1688 they escaped from the city during the Williamite War and were separated for seven years. <ref>Siggins White, Kinnear and their Kin, 3</ref>

This family later emigrated to North America and are documented in detail in by Emma Siggins White in her family history (1916).

Eighteenth Century

Of those who remained in Scotland, George Kinnear was a banker in Edinburgh at the end of the eighteenth century and his son James as a noted lawyer.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 410</ref> George Kinnear's wife was painted by Henry Raeburn. (link below) (accessed 16th May 2014)

Ninteenth Century

Alexander Smith Kinnear (1833-1917) was enobled as Lord Kinnear in 1897. He was a lawyer who had been variously Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Lord of Session. <ref>Kinnear Family, 1</ref> He did not have children so the peerage became extinct on his death. <ref>,_1st_Baron_Kinnear</ref>

Acting dynasty

Roy Kinnear

Roy Muir Kinnear (1934-1988) was a notable British character actor who appeared in films including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

His father, also Roy Muir Kinnear (1904-1942) was a Scottish international rugby player during the 1920s and 1930s. Rory Kinnear (b. 1978) is a well known actor.

Further Reading

Kinnear Genelogy Forum:

Kinnears and their Kin (ebook from Library of Congress copy, deposited by the author)