Kidd Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Kidd Meaning
is both an English and Scottish surname. Kidd
in England derived from the Old English kid, a young
goat, and was probably
a nickname for a lively, frisky person. In
Scotland, the name was regional to Angus on the east coast and was a
pet form of Christopher. Kyd was an
early spelling in both England and Scotland.

Kidd Resources on

Kidd Ancestry

Scotland. Kidd
is an old Angus surname found in both Dundee and Arbroath in
Forfarshire. The first recorded was Robert
Kidd of Dundee
in 1357. Sande Kid and Thoma Kyd
appeared at an inquest at Forfar in 1450. The Burgess Roll of Dundee noted
twenty Kyds and Kidds in Dundee during the 1500’s. One rumor is
that these Kidds had originated from Flemish immigrants who had settled
in the Dundee area.

John Kyd or Kidd was born in the small village
of Kettins in Angus sometime in the 1620’s.
A seaman, he married Bessie Butchard in 1646, but was lost at
sea in
1659. Their young son William was
thirteen years old at the time. He grew up
to be the famous pirate Captain Kidd.

historians have deemed his piratical reputation unjust, as there was
evidence that
Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd’s
fame sprang largely from the sensational circumstances of his
before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial in 1700.”

At this trial, Captain
was found guilty on charges of murder and
five counts of piracy and was hanged in London. Kidd’s male line
died out when his only son John was killed at the Battle of Culloden in

Kyd family held the barony of Craigie near Dundee during the 17th and
18th centuries. Captain James Kyd of the Royal Navy sold the
family estate in the late 1700’s.
One Kidd family line goes back to David Kidd who married Lilias Fleming in Dundee in 1753; another to John Kyd who married Joan Reid in Arbroath in
1768. The Kidd name had also extended to Fife by this
time. One line at Kilconquhar in Fife has been traced back to
David Kid, born around the year 1640.

Kydd, a shoemaker, married Mary Shand in Arbroath in 1864 and their son
Shand Kydd was born in the same year. In
1891 he founded the Shand Kydd wallpaper company
in London which was to make the family fortune. When
he died in 1936, he left over £200,000, worth about £11 million at
prices. His wallpaper business was taken
up by his son Norman, said to have been the originator of flock
wallpaper, and then
by his grandson Peter

Kidds in England seem to have their origins in the Craven district of
NW Yorkshire. The Craven 1377 tax inspectors
found five Kyd families
there – in Clapham, Giggleswick, Gisburn, Ingleton and
Settle. The main numbers in the following centuries were in
Giggleswick and Settle, including:

  • Richard Kidd, born in Giggleswick in 1530, who came from a large
    of sheep farmers, weavers, and wool traders.
  • John Kidd
    who was one of the first Quakers in Settle in
    1652. His grandson Benjamin was a well-known Quaker
    minister in the next century.
  • and Thomas Kidd, born in 1770 and educated at Giggleswick School,
    who became a distinguished classical scholar.

Over time the Kidd name spread north into Durham and west into

Ireland. Sometime in the 1630’s Walter Kid, a linen
merchant from Scotland, came to Dunluce in county Antrim.
His descendants moved to Millmount Keady in
Armagh in the 1740’s.

Meanwhile Richard
Kidd from Settle in Yorkshire was first recorded in Dublin in 1637. These Kidds later spread southward to the
Wicklow/Wexford border. The principal concentration was at
Askamore in county
Wexford where they were substantial landowners.

“Thomas Kidd, born in 1750 and a
fifth generation Kidd there, lived to be a hundred.
He was, according to family lore, married
three times – fathering eight children by his second wife and three by
third wife, the last being born when Thomas was eighty one.”

Another line via Peter Kidd, a clothier in
Dublin, led to a Quaker family in Limerick and to Dr. Joseph Kidd, born
there in
1824. He moved to London in the 1850’s
where he established a homeopathic practice.
He was physician to both W.E. Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli

America. The first Kidd in America was probably Roger
Kidd, a servant to Robert Scotchmore, who came to Virginia on the George in 1623. But Roger
died in 1632, leaving no descendants.

Kidd, also an indentured servant, came to Virginia from Cambridgeshire
in 1648. He settled in Middlesex county
and did leave
descendants. The main line of descent
was via his younger son William and his six sons. These
sons later spread across Virginia and
their descendants to North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

Irish. John Kidd
appears to have come to America from Ireland in the 1740’s,
eventually settling at South Fishing Creek in York county, South
Carolina. He fought during the
Revolutionary War at the
Battle of King’s Mountain and, according to his grandson, was crippled
life. His son John and wife Sarah
migrated first to Kentucky, returned to South Carolina, and then in
departed for new lands in Antioch, Georgia where they built a church
and school in
the community.

Other Irish arrivals were:

  • Andrew
    Kidd who came with
    his wife Martha from county Tyrone, eventually settling in Cecil
    Maryland in 1754. His descendants moved
    first to Virginia and then to Illinois and Indiana.
  • and
    Samuel Kidd who came to America from county
    Armagh in 1808, first stopping in Virginia and then moving with his
    wife Pamela
    to Ohio in 1813. Their son George fought
    with the US army in Texas, but died there of yellow fever in 1844.

Alexander Kidd and his wife Christiana came to
Ontario from Scotland in 1815, first staying in Perth county and
then moving
to Dummer township, Peterborough county in 1831. Their
descendants have held regular reunions.

Also arriving in Canada around this time was Andrew
Kidd from Kilkenny in Ireland (his father Robert having been killed during the 1798
Irish uprising) . He
settled with his family an an area known as the Derry in
the Ottawa valley. Andrew’s descendants
are still farming there
today. Dr. George Kidd covered these Kidds in his 1943 book The Story of the Derry.

William Kidd from Ireland was a pioneer settler at Burritt’s Rapids in
county, Ontario. His son Edward and
grandson Thomas were active in local politics there.

This William was also the forebear of a Kidd
family that would later become famous in England. The
line here extended to William Ennis Kidd, a
padre in World War One who was awarded the Military Cross in 1916, and
to Major
Thomas Kidd who married Janet Aitken, Lord Beaverbook’s daughter, in
1942. Their son Johnny was an English show-jumping champion and
international jetsetter who
made his home in Barbados. Johnny’s
daughters were the models Jemma and Jodie Kidd.

Joseph Kidd meanwhile left Ireland for Ontario in 1824, settling near Lake Simcoe.

Australia. Alexander
Kidd from Dundee came on the Denmark Hill
to Sydney in 1828. He was a shipwright
by trade working along the Manning river.

“The Mary Ann,
built by Alexander in 1842, was a two masted 38 ton schooner. The vessel traded between the Manning and
Sydney until 1849 when she was wrecked off Harrington.”

James Kidd, a gardener from Fife, was convicted of forging a one pound
note and transported to
Australia. He arrived in Sydney on the Burrell in 1830. His family
followed. He ended up as the
Superintendent of the
Sydney Botanic Gardens

New Zealand. Two Thomas
Kidds from Ulster migrated to New Zealand. The first from Keady
in county Armagh came to Auckland with his family in 1859 on the Shalimar. Their story was
recounted in G.E. Kidd’s 2009 book The
Kidd Family in New Zealand.
The second Thomas Kidd, from
county Down, arrived in 1863. He fought in the Maori wars but did
not stay. He settled instead ten years later in British Columbia in Canada.


Select Kidd Miscellany

English 1377 Tax Rolls in Craven District

Location Name
Clapham Willelmus Kyd and wife
Mariota Kyd, unmarried woman
Giggleswick Willelmus Kyd and wife
Gisburn Robert Kyder and wife
Ingleton Thomas Kyd and wife
Settle Simon Kyd and wife

John Kidd, Quaker of Settle.  John Kidd was a clothier in Settle, Yorkshire who
became a Quaker in the early days of George Fox’s ministry.  The Settle Quaker meeting notes in 1704 had
the following report of the first arrival of Quakers in their town.

“In about
the year 1652 or 1653 it was so ordered that another servant and
minister of
the Lord called John Camm came into Settle on a market day and in the
place began to preach the doctrine of repentance.  But
they soon fell upon him with violence and
did beat and buffet him very much.  After
some time he was conducted to the house of John Kidd of Upper Settle
there was a meeting in the evening and things relating to the kingdom
of God
were plainly laid down by him.”

The times were no less kind to Quakers in
the 1670’s and John Kidd was fined for attending a Quaker meeting
shillings – for which the officers took two coats and covercloth, part
of a
hide of leather, and one pair of shoes.”
Undeterred, John kept his home on Albert Street open for Quaker

John’s grandson Benjamin by his second son William was a Quaker
for thirty eight years, preaching in his early years in America.  He died in Banbury in 1751.
Another grandson Richard became a miller in
Godalming, Surrey.  And his son Benjamin
was a Quaker minister in Reading.

Kyds and Kidds in the Burgess Roll of Dundee.  The Burgess
Roll of Dundee recorded twenty Kyds and Kidds in Dundee during the
1500’s.  Among their number were:

Date Name Occupation
1552 William Kidd merchant
1554 Archibald Kidd merchant
1555 Thomas Kidd clothcutter
1573 Alexander Kidd spurmaker
1580 William Kyd reader and vicar of Dundee
1590 John Kidd burgess

Captain Kidd’s Execution.  Captain Kidd was
hanged on May 23, 1701 at Execution Dock on Tilbury Point.
Following tradition the crowds passed him rum
and Kidd was blind drunk when he swung from the gallows.
It was said that he died hard as the rope
broke from his weight and fell to the ground.
He was tied up a second time, re-hung, and died.

following lament, entitled Captain
Kidd’s Farewell to the Seas
was penned on his execution:

“My name was Captain Kidd, when I sailed, when I sailed,

And so wickedly I did, God’s laws I did forbid. When I sailed,
when I sailed.

I roamed from sound to sound, and many a ship I found And them I sunk or burned.  When I sailed.

I murdered William Moore, and laid him in his gore, Not many leagues from shore.  When I sailed.

Farewell to young and old, all jolly seamen bold, You’re welcome to my gold.  For I must die, I must die.

Farewell to Lunnon town, the pretty girls all round, No pardon can be found, and I must die, I must die.

Farewell, for I must die. Then to eternity, in hideous misery, I must lie, I must lie.”

Thomas Kidd, from Ireland to British Columbia.  Thomas Kidd
was born in county Down in Ireland in 1846.
At the age of 17 he left home and took passage on a sailing
vessel for
New Zealand, where he arrived after 100 days at sea.  Shortly
after his arrival
he enlisted in the Third Regiment of the Waikato Volunteers which had
organized to put down a Maori uprising.

his discharge in 1866 he left for California, where he engaged in
farming and
later logging in the redwood forests.  He
left California in 1874 and took passage for British Columbia, arriving
Victoria.  He soon moved to New
Westminster where he began farming on 160 acres of land.
He subsequently acquired further tracts.
There are still living on parts of these farms members of the first,
second and
third generations of his family.

he was elected to councilor of Richmond, a position which he held
for many years.  He lived on to the age of
84, dying in 1930.  In 1971 his great
Gilbert was alderman of Richmond and three years later mayor of the town.

Reader Feedback – Joseph Kidd, from Ireland to Ontario.  In 1824 Joseph Kidd traveled to Canada aboard the Maria, landing in Gananoque, Quebec on August 1st.  His family moved to what would become Ontario very shortly after, his son John purchasing around 1,000 square acres of land near Lake Simcoe.

They came from Ireland, as members of what is now known as the Askamore branch of the Kidd family in South Ireland having lived in Carnew.  They had originated not from Scotland like many North Ireland Kidds, but from the town of Settle in the Yorkshire region of England. The family had, from its roots largely been involved in textiles, from tailoring, to hat making.

Joseph Kidd is recorded to have been present at or more likely nearby the Scullabogue Barn Massacre, and being a Protestant, was likely serving with Loyalist forces in the area. He submitted complaints after the 1798 rebellion that his house and barn had been torched by Catholics as well. There are not many Kidds of Ontario at the present, but Joseph Kidd’s descendants are definitely one of the larger “clans” present here.

Cameron Kidd (

The Shand Kydds.  William Shand
Kydd was born in Arbroath in Scotland in 1864.  After
serving an apprenticeship there, he moved first to Edinburgh and
then to London where he married Alice Sim, also from Arbroath.  In 1891 he launched the Shand Kydd wallpaper
company which was to make the family fortune.

His son Norman expanded the wallpaper business.  He
was the man said to have invented flock
wallpaper.  The wallpaper factory was in
Highgate; while he made his home at Horton Hall in Buckinghamshire, a
moated farmhouse of 18th century origins.

Norman’s son Peter who inherited the family business
sold it in 1962 and moved to Australia where he became a sheep farmer.  After selling the sheep farm and returning to
England, he began an affair with the wife of Earl Spencer and they
married in
1969.  He thus became the stepfather of
Earl Spencer’s daughter Diana, Princess of Wales.  However,
his marriage did not last and they
divorced in 1988.

Peter had a
half-brother Bill by Norman’s second wife who perhaps became even more
famous.  In his youth he was a champion
amateur jockey who later bred horses at the farm adjoining the family
estate at
Horton Hall.  He was married to
Christina, the sister of Lord Lucan’s wife, and he had a cameo role in
the events
following Lord Lucan’s sensational disappearance in 1974 after the
murder of
his child’s nanny.

What of the next
generation?  One heir, Adam, died of a
suspected drugs overdose in Cambodia in 2004; the other, Johnnie, is a
photographer with over seventy works in the National Portrait Gallery.


Select Kidd Names

  • Captain William Kidd was a famous and notorious
    Scottish pirate who was hanged in 1701. 
  • William Shand Kydd from Arbroath started the Shand
    Kydd brand of wallpaper in London in 1891.   
  • Michael Kidd, born Milton Greenwald, was an American film and stage choreographer who staged some of the leading Broadway and film musicals of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Select Kidd Numbers Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Kidd and Like Surnames

Nicknames must have been an early feature of medieval life in a family or community as these nicknames later translated into surnames.  People then lived a more natural life than we do today and the surnames have reflected that.

They could be about color (Brown, Gray, Green etc), whether of hair or complexion or other factors; mood (Gay and Moody are two extremes); youth (Cox and Kidd); speed of foot (Swift and Lightfoot); and actions (such as Shakespeare and Wagstaff).  Then there were likenesses to animals (notably Fox and Wolfe but also Peacock) and to birds (Crowe and Wren for example).  And then there were some extraordinary nicknames such as Drinkwater and Wildgoose.

Here are some of these nickname surnames that you can check out.




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