Kett Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Kett Origin:


Origins of Kett:

This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and has two possible sources. The first origin of the name may acquire from the Olde English pre 7th Century “cyte,” Middle English “kete,” which means a kite, bird of prey belonging to the falcon family, and would have been a nickname given to a hard or greedy person. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames acquire from old nicknames relating to specific features. Richard Kyte was listed in the 1243 Assize Court Rolls of Somerset. Secondly, the surname may be geographical for a resident by some shed or outhouse for cattle and sheep, so it may also indicate a herdsman. The origin in this example is from the Olde English “cyte,” hut. Ralph atte Kete noted in the Place-Names of Kent (1292). In the new era, the surname has many spelling differences ranging from Keat, Keet, and Keit, to Keytt, Kett, and Kyte. In June 1623, Mary, daughter of Henry and Joyce Kett, named at St. Michael Cornhill, London. One of the earliest settlers in the New World was Robert Kett, aged 22 yrs., who left from the Port of London bound for St. Christophers and the Barbadoes, in January 1634.


More common variations are: Keatt, Ketto, Kette, Keitt, Ketty, Kettu, Koett, Ketti, Ketta, Kiett


The surname Kett first appeared in Gloucestershire where they were the new west country landed gentry. Although, there is also an old record of them in the East, where a Richard Kete noted in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1166.

The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Ailnoth Kete, dated about 1166, in the “Pipe Rolls Norfolk.” It was during the time of King Henry II who was known to be the “The Builder of Churches,” dated 1154 – 1189. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.


Many of the people with surname Kett had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.

United States of America:

Individuals with the surname Kett landed in the United States in three different centuries respectively in the 17th and 19th. Some of the people with the name Kett who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included Robert Kett, aged 22, landed in St Christopher in 1634. William Kett, who came to Virginia in 1665. Benjamin Kett, aged 19, landed in Maryland in 1684

The following century saw much more Kett surnames arrive. Some of the people with the name Kett who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included Ferdinand Kett, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County. Pennsylvania in 1874.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Kett: England 790; Germany 773; United States 719; Canada 300; Australia 234; Ireland 191; New Zealand 142; Hungary 131; South Africa 73; Scotland 59.

Notable People:

Francis Kett (c.1547–1589) was an Anglican clergyman burned for heresy. He was born in Wymondham, Norfolk, the son of Thomas and Agnes Kett, and the nephew of the rebel Robert Kett, the main instigator of Kett’s Rebellion. Although Kett’s father passed away, while he was still a boy, he was able to attend university thanks to support from his mother’s second husband.

Hedley Kett (1913-2014), was a British naval officer and submariner.

Henry Kett (1761–1825), was a talented English clergyman, educator and author.

Kett Turton (born 1982), is a Canadian actor.

Rlinda Kett was a fictional character from the Saga of Seven Suns series of novels by Kevin J. Anderson.

Tony Kett (1951–2009), was an Irish Fianna Fáil leader and member of Seanad Éireann.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Brooke House and Suthing Hall, co. Norfolk, whero tho family has been established as landed proprietors since the time of King John). Or, on a fesse betw. three leopards’ heads erased and cabossed az. a lion pass. guard. ar. Crest—A leopard’s head erased, as in the arms.
2) (Kellsall, co. Suffolk; granted 1756). Motto—Rara avis in terris. Or, a lion ramp. guard. gu. betw. three leopards’ heads erased and cabossed sa. Crest—On a mount vert a peacock ppr.

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