Clan Kennedy

The Kennedy name in Ayrshire seems to have evolved from the family of Fergus, Lord of Galloway (south of Scotland). The Lords of Galloway were known formerly as de Carrick, with a lesser name being Kennedy (MacKenedi). Fergus could have had family links to Brian Boru, King of Ireland (the king that overthrew the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf, Near Dublin, in 1014).

A descendant of Fergus was Duncan de Carrick, who became Earl of Carrick (a district of southwest Scotland, south of Ayr). The Earldom of Carrick passed to the Bruce's when Robert Bruce (father of Robert the Bruce) married the widow Marjorie, Countess of Carrick, in 1271. Her husband, Rolan de Carrick was killed in the Holy War against the Saracens.

About the time Duncan de Carrick gained control of the land of South Ayrshire, one of the de Carrick's seem to have began using the name Kennedy, so he could become head of that name in the area. The very earliest mention of the name being used in Ayrshire, is that of Gilbert MacKenedi, who witnessed a charter of the Doon Fishings in William the Lion's reign (1165-1214).

The title Earl of Carrick, seemed to have disappeared after Robert the Bruce became king of Scotland. It seems to have been replaced by the title Earl of Cassillis some centuries later, Cassillis being the the main seat of the Kennedy's at that time.

This began a fierce confrontation in the late 1500s, between the Kennedy's of Cassillis, and the monks of Crossraguel Abbey, as the Cassillis Kennedy's set about reclaiming land gifted to the monks by Duncan de Carrick in the early 1200s.

John Kennedy was one of the first Kennedy's on record in Ayrshire, being the owner of Dunure Castle, built in the late 1200s. Dunure Castle, 6 miles south of Ayr on the coast, was the Kennedy’s first seat. John Kennedy acquired lands at Cassillis (5 miles southeast of Ayr by the village of Minishant) in the 1350s. Large Image.

Dunure Castle image
Cassillis House image

The earliest parts of Cassillis House were built around that time. Cassillis then became the main seat of the Kennedy's. John Kennedy's son, Sir Gilbert, was one of the hostages exchanged for the release of King David II by the English in 1357. Large Image.

Gilbert’s son James married Princess Mary, second daughter of King Robert III. Their son, another Gilbert, was created Lord Kennedy in about 1457.

Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar, served as commander of the Scots mercenary troops who fought for Joan of Arc at the siege of Orleans. The arms of the Kennedy’s of Bargany, have since contained reference to Joan of Arc.

Sir David, 3rd Lord Kennedy, was created Earl of Cassillis in 1509. He died at Flodden in 1513, alongside the Scottish King James IV (Stuart).

The 2nd Earl was murdered in 1527.

The 3rd Earl, Gilbert, was one of four Scottish commissioners poisoned at Dieppe, on their return from the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to the Dauphin in 1558.

Late 1500s, The 4th Earl earned an infamous reputation by roasting Alan Stewart, Commendater of Crossraguel Abbey, in the black vault of Dunure Castle in order to obtain abbey land. That act led to a feud between the Cassillis and Bargany Kennedy's, as the young, hot headed Bargany, was the brother in law of Alan Stewart. The feuding escalated until the slaying of Bargany by one of the Cassillis Kennedy's men.

Bargany's friend and relation, John Mure, then murdered Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean (uncle of the Earl of Cassillis). John Mure and his son were later found guilty of that murder, and beheaded in 1611, this ending the Kennedy feuds.

Baltersan Castle image
Maybole Castle image

In the late 1500s, the Kennedy’s built Baltersan Tower, as seen above, within one mile of Crossraguel Abbey, along with Maybole Castle, as seen left, to serve as their town house. Large Image.

1603, Greenan Castle south of Ayr was built for John Kennedy of Baltersan.

Greenan Castle image

The 6th Earl of Cassillis, John, was Lord Justice General of Scotland from 1649 to 1651. He supported the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

When the 8th Earl died without heirs, there was a three-year court dispute to determine his successor. The House of Lords finally found in favour of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean.

The 10th Earl, David Kennedy, an advocate, commissioned the architect Robert Adam to extend the original tower house at Culzean into what is now considered by many as Adam’s finest work. That work was carried out between 1777 and 1792. Large Image.

Culzean Castle image
Dalquharran Castle image

Adam also designed a Castle for Thomas Kennedy of Dalquharran (15 miles southeast of Ayr) in the 1780s, as see left. Thomas Kennedy was Adam's brother in law. Large Image.

The castle at Dalquharran was built to replace the existing castle at Dalquharran, built in the 1400s, as seen right.

Dalquharran Old Castle image

On the death of the 10th Earl, the title passed to Captain Archibald Kennedy who had settled in America. He was an officer in the Royal Navy, who held estates in Hoboken/New Jersey, and became the greatest property owner in New York. His neutrality during the American War of Independence, led to him being mistrusted by both sides. Half of his New York properties were confiscated as a result, including number 1 Broadway, that became the property of George Washington.

The 12th Earl was a close friend of the Duke of Clarence, who, on his coronation as William IV, created him Marques of Ailsa.

The Kennedy’s handed Culzean over to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945. They then stayed in the west wing of the castle for a few years before moving to Cassillis House. Charles Kennedy, (19th Earl of Cassillis) sold Cassillis House and estate in 2009, to confused.com founder Kate Armstrong.

Maybole Castle has been used recently as a community council training centre. It is now also open to the public for viewing.

Dunure Castle is a ruin that attracts many visitors. There is a car park and kids play area next to the castle.

Baltersan Castle is expected to be restored in time.

The ruin of Greenan Castle, situated at the south side of Ayr beach, attracts many visitors. There is a large car park close to the castle.

Dalquharran Castle has been sold to a large hotel chain to be restored. The castle will serve as a hotel at the centre of a championship standard golf course; Old Dalquharran Castle will be incorporated in the golf course. The world financial crisis of 2007-2008, has delayed work on the restoration and golf course, due to the lack of financial investment. Jack Nicklaus has been chosen to design the course, and has visited Dalquharran.

Bargany Castles are now almost unrecognizable as buildings, as there is so little of them left. Bargany Mansion and scenic estate, are now owned by the Dalrymple Hamilton's, thought to be descendants of the Kennedy's.

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