A history of the Kennedy Earls of Cassillis before 1576

Brennan, Brian (2019) A history of the Kennedy Earls of Cassillis before 1576. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis will study the Kennedy family, beginning with its origins as a minor cadet branch of the lineage that ruled Galloway in the twelfth century, and trace its history until the death of the fourth earl of Cassillis in 1576. A study of how the Kennedys extended their influence across south-west Scotland and acquired an earldom has never been undertaken. This thesis aims to fill the significant gap in our understanding of how lordship operated in this region. In particular, analysis of the interactions between the Kennedys and the earls of Carrick, usually the monarch or his heir, demonstrates that the key factor in their success was their policy of close alignment and support of the crown.
The Kennedy kindred were the dominant force in Carrick in south-west Scotland from the middle of the fourteenth century. Their first appearance in the historical record in the late twelfth century makes it likely that the Kennedys were connected to the kindred of Fergus, Lord of Galloway. His grandson Duncan became the first earl of Carrick when that territory was separated from Galloway. Duncan’s lineage was known as the ‘de Carricks’ and the Bruce family gained the earldom through marriage to a ‘de Carrick’ heiress. The earldom of Carrick then became connected to the crown and, when the male line of the ‘de Carricks’ failed, Robert II recognised John Kennedy of Dunure as the rightful leader of the kindreds within Carrick. For over two hundred years the principal Kennedy line exerted a powerful lordship in Carrick which later extended into western Galloway. The family’s dominance in the area and their loyalty to the crown was recognised when the head of the Kennedys was made a lord of parliament in 1458. The Kennedy chief was granted a comital title in 1509 and the Kennedy earls of Cassillis were highly influential during the reigns of James V and Mary Queen of Scots.
The power and influence of the Kennedy chiefs has been acknowledged by historians but there has been limited study of the kindred. As bailies to the earls of Carrick, usually the monarch or the heir to the throne, the Kennedys may have been seen as playing a secondary role within the province. Studies have examined the life of individual Kennedys and the mechanisms used by some Kennedy chiefs to exert their lordship in an area where Gaelic kinship practices still operated. However, until now the history of the Kennedy dynasty has never been subjected to in-depth analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gaelic roots, loyalty to the crown, dominance in south-west Scotland.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Reid, Doctor Steven and MacGregor, Doctor Martin
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mr Brian Brennan
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-70978
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 13:19
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 09:20
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/70978

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