Origin and meaning of the surname "Kneen"

Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not used in England and Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and were first found in the Doomsday Book. The employment of a second name, a custom introduced by the Norman’s. Who themselves had not before adopted it, became in cause of time a mark of gentle blood? And it was deemed a disgrace for a gentleman to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward 2, 1307-1327, that the practice became general amongst all people.

These names were adopted according to fairly general principles and can be generally divided into four classifications. Local names are taken from places of origin. Occupational names denote the trade or profession of early users. Nicknames describe mental and physical characteristics complain clothes etceteras. The patronymic was the method of taking the first name of the father as the last name of the son.

The Surname of "Kneen", from the Manx "Mac" cinain" the son of "Cianan spelt "Kynyne" 1422. .The earliest record of the surname "Mac Cianain"on the Isle of Man, is a reference to one "Jenkin McNyne" who was recorded in 1429. While "Keneen" was listed in 1666 and "Kaneen" in 1740.

The name also has links to "Nevin and Nevins"

Kneen [ni:n, kri:nJ II.

Mac Nevyne, Mac Nyne, Mac Nene, SL. 1422; Mac Nyven, LA. 10, 12, 15. 1511; Ine Nyven, f. 1511; Knyne, PR 1620; Kneene, LA. 1643; Knean, PR 16. 1705; Neen, PR 1825.


Ireland , and Scotland, Mac Naoimhin, 'son of Naoimhin' (saintling, dim. of naomh, Mx. noo, 'a saint '); a name also found in Scotland and South Leinster. Jenkin Mac Nevyne was in the Keys, A.D. 1429. Thomas Kneen, Dm., CR., and Dep.-Gov., d. 1916.

The Kneen motto is " Nil desperandum" "Never despair"

Return to Index   

Acknowledgements to J. J. Kneen M.A. & J.M.Elliott & On-line publishing.

updated    2nd January 2005