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Everyone who knows any history at all knows that Hengist and Horsa are the first recorded personal names in our language. Because they are such a strange and stiking pair it is often thought that they were ritual magic names for the leaders of tribes, or perhaps the symbolic figures depicted on their battle standards. In later centuries the White Horse was one of the emblems of the people of Wesse.....

Heraldry Database: King


Surname:  King
Branch:  King
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  The origins of the King surname date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It comes from an early member of the family who was a person who lived and acted like a king. It is derived from the Old English cyning or cyng, meaning "king," and was probably first bestowed as a nickname upon someone who was kingly in personality or appearance, or perhaps to someone who had played the king in a pageant.

Motto:  Audaces fortuna juvat, Fortune favours the bold.
Arms:  Sa. a lion, rampant, ducally crowned or, armed and langued gu. betw. three cross crosslets of the second.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

The surname King was first found in Devon, where the name was first found about 1050. Geoffrey King brought the name to Cheshire in 1177 and by 1273 John King had established lands and estates in the county of Norfolk as evidenced by John le Kyng who was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of Norfolk at that time. The Hundredorum Rolls also lists Walter le Kyng in Cambridgeshire.

Regional distribution of the name is interesting. "Mostly confined south of a line drawn from the Wash to the southern border of Shropshire. North of this line the name rapidly diminishes in frequency, being absent from my list in nearly all the counties thus marked off. It is rare also in the extreme south - west, in Devon and Cornwall. It is best represented in Beds, Bucks, Suffolk, and Wilts. The name is sparingly represented in Scotland."

In Scotland, it was "a surname of some antiquity and still met with in many parts of the country, Berwick, Fife, and Aberdeen. The first of the name recorded in Aberdeenshire is "Robertus dictus King" who bequeathed to the prior and convent of St. Andrews land in that shire which was the subject of a convention in 1247 between his brother's daughter, Goda, and the prior and convent."

In medieval England, the name King was given to someone who behaved in a kingly manner, perhaps the leader of a tribe or even a strong warrior who earned the title in battle. Someone who had won a sporting contest or demonstrated great physical strength could also be labelled King by others.

As Britain invaded Ireland on numerous occasions from the 12th century onwards, the two versions of the name began to merge into one. This process was completed after Oliver Cromwell’s invasion in 1649. He took complete control over Ireland and most of the land was given to British settlers. From that point, it was difficult to find work with an Irish sounding name, so most people named Ó’Cionga chose to anglicise their name to King, and also Conroy.

The name was spread across the world in the mid-19th century, when millions of Irish people were forced to emigrate because of the ‘Great Famine’.

Another version of King comes from the French word roi, which means king. This was the surname given to French orphans in the 16th century. The king of France would pay for these children to be homed and educated, and they were known as ‘the king’s children’. Many were sent to be raised in Canada, and the French Roi was translated into the English King.

The name has become so popular around the world that there have been literally hundreds of people named King that have made a mark in their given field. Stephen King is a world-famous author. He has written countless best-selling books and is renowned for his ability to grip a reader by building up the suspense and tension in his stories.

Ben E. King is a legend of American soul music. He is most famous for the classic 1961 hit Stand By Me, which is still one of the most played songs around the world today.

Billie Jean King is a former professional tennis player. She completed the Grand Slam when she won the French Open in 1972, the last major missing from her collection. In total, King won 12 Grand Slam titles in her career. She was inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

Name Variations:  King, Kin, O'King.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.
House of Names: https://www.houseofnames.com/king-family-crest
Ireland Calling: https://ireland-calling.com/irish-names-king/


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