King Surname Genealogy

Those with the surname King are unfortunately not descended
from a king. King generally started as a nickname, for someone
who had
displayed himself in a kingly manner or who had played the Mayday King
in one
of the
pageants that were so popular in medieval times. Every
village had
its Mayday king and at the feast of the Epiphany one of the company was
elected king.

King Resources on

England. The first references to King as a surname
appeared in Devon. Aelwine se Cyng was recorded there in
Early spellings in Devon and Dorset were Kynge and Kinge.

from SW England were:

  • Jerome
    King, a 17th century grocer and dry-salter originally
    from Glastonbury in Somerset. His son Peter King,
    born in Exeter, rose to be Lord Chancellor of England in 1725 and was
    Baron King.
  • John
    King, a 17th century yeoman in Manaccan, Cornwall.
    His son John became an eminent churchman, the
    rector of Chelsea.
  • while
    Philip King was an 18th century draper in Launceston,
    Cornwall. His son Philip came out to
    Australia with the First Fleet and stayed to be its third Governor.

The King surname
later spread around the country.
names John Kynge and James King appeared in Ticehurst, Sussex around
There were Kings in the southeast, from Hampshire to
Essex, and
in the north,
Yorkshire and Lancashire

King in Ireland could be an English import.
Sir John King from Yorkshire had been granted land in
Roscommon by
Queen Elizabeth for his anti-Catholic zeal in 1603 and these Kings
established in Ireland as the Earls of Kingston. King
, their Georgian mansion, was built
at Boyle in 1730.

The Kings of Enniskerry were a Protestant family in county
Wicklow which can be traced back to John King, a bookseller there in
the 18th
century. Later Kings – the Rev. Luke
White King and Sir Lucas White King – were clergymen and academic
professors in
Dublin. Sir Lucas married the daughter
of the newspaper tycoon, Lord Rothermere, and this gave their son Cecil
the entrance he needed into the English newspaper world.
As Chairman of Daily Mirror Newspapers, he
was probably the most powerful figure in this industry during the 1960’s

Alternatively King in Ireland might be an anglicization of a
number of
Gaelic names, in particular O’Cionga, a family which in
medieval times
was seated on the isle of Inismor in Lough Ree, Westmeath. Today
there are
sizeable number of Kings in county Cavan, with clusters around Athlone
Roscrea, and in county Galway.

Scotland. King
as a surname first appeared in Aberdeenshire in the 15th century. Its best-known King was General James King
who fought for Sweden in the Thirty Years War during the 17th century. The King name is now more common in Scotland
in and around Glasgow

America. Early King arrivals were English. William
King and his family
departed Weymouth on the Abigail
in 1635 and settled in Beverly, Massachusetts. The
King homestead remained there until the
early 1800’s.

John King
from Kent came to New England sometime in the 1680’s.
Son Richard who established himself as a
successful merchant in Scarborough, Maine had two prominent sons:

  • Rufus, a signer of the Declaration of
    Independence and later a Minister to Britain and a Presidential
    candidate. He made his home in Jamaica,
    New York. His sons and grandsons were all
    prominent in
    New York political life.
  • and William, a
    proponent of Maine statehood who became its first Governor in 1820.

Richard was a Loyalist (and had his house
attacked by mobs), but his sons were American patriots during the

Michael King
Norwich came via Ireland to Virginia sometime in the 1660’s as an
servant. He ended up in Nansemond county where he prospered as a
plantation owner. Later Kings of this line were to be found in
county, North Carolina. William King was
very briefly in 1853 US Vice President. Suspected
to be gay, he lasted only 25 days in office before dying.

The largest number of Kings in America has
come from Ireland. And there have been German and Jewish King
as well.

The German King names
would originally have been
Koenig. Early Koenigs/Kings in
Pennsylvania were:

  • George
    Koenig/King, one of the first settlers at Tulpehocken in Berks county
    in the early
  • and
    Michael Koenig,
    later King, who came
    to Charlestown, Chester county around 1740.

Koenig, a baseball pitcher in the
1880’s from St. Louis, was known as the “Silver King.”

King could also be Jewish. Carole King,
the singer-songwriter, was born
Carol Klein to a New York Jewish family.
Larry King, the talk show host, was born Lawrence Zeigler to
immigrant parents also in New York.

John King from
Aberdeen had come with the British army to Canada in the 1830’s and
helped to
suppress the Upper Canada rebellion of 1837.
Four years later, he married Christina MacDougall in Berlin (now
Kitchener), Ontario. But he died of TB
in 1843, four months before the birth of his son John.
This son John was a lawyer with a struggling
practice in Berlin.

His son William
Mackenzie King rose the political ranks to become the dominant Canadian
politician of the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s – serving during this
period more
than twenty one years as Prime Minister.
He never married and left no descendants.

South Africa. There were
three related King families from Gloucestershire – those of Philip,
Joseph and
Henry – on-board the Kennersley Castle
that arrived at the Eastern Cape in 1820.
Joseph was married three times and has a large number of
scattered over the Eastern Cape. His
eldest son Joseph King prospered in the gold and diamond boom and built
a fine mansion outside Johannesburg.

King Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

King Names

Tom King, a friend of Dick
Turpin, was an 18th century highwayman.

was a prominent New York
politician in the early 1800’s and a US Presidential candidate in 1816
Martin Luther King was the
American civil rights leader assassinated in 1968.  Billy
Jean King
won 12 women’s Grand Slam titles in tennis during her
time at the top in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Stephen King is a best-selling
modern author.  B.B. King is an American blues
guitarist and singer songwriter.

Select Kings Today

  • 161,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Sussex)
  • 168,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 115,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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