The term Cyninges-tun means King’s manor. Several geographical locations in England were named after these royal settlements. The surname de Cyninges-tun (later Kingston) would subsequently have been adopted by some families from these locations, most likely after they had moved away. The Kingston surname has probably been adopted independently by unrelated families from different locations with this name. In "Blood of the Isles" Bryan Sykes writes that a strictly enforced feudal system was instigated all over England after the Norman conquest whereby estates insisted that surnames be adopted so that inheritance of land tenancies from father to son could be properly controlled, which resulted in practically everyone in England having a surname by the end of the thirteenth century.
Most, if not all, Kingston families originated in England (with the notable exception of one branch of the McCloughry family from Mosstown, Co. Longford, Ireland, but originally from Scotland, that changed their surname to Kingstone). During the Munster and Cromwellian plantations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the name began to appear in Ireland. This was predominantly in the West Cork area, where land was taken from the native Irish and given to English planters. The most significant Kingston settlements in Ireland historically have been in the West Cork villages of Timoleague and Drimoleague, thirty miles apart. “The origins of Co. Cork Kingstons” by A. Richard Kingston, published in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Volume 86, 1981, offers analysis of Co. Cork Kingstons. The author documents four generations of descent from a Colonel Samuel Kingston (died 1703) who lived in Timoleague, where he received land in the Cromwellian plantation of the 1650s, and concludes that many, if not most, Irish Kingstons may descend from him. The author proceeds to argue that, because many settlers migrating to southwest Ireland during this period came from Somerset, Somerset is by default the most likely place of origin in England of Co. Cork Kingstons. However, no documentary evidence linking Co. Cork Kingstons to Somerset has been found.
Historical sources provide evidence of Kingston settlers in West Cork before the Cromwellian plantation (and therefore before any grant of Timoleague land was made to Colonel Samuel Kingston). In “The History of Bandon and the Principal Towns in the West Riding of County Cork” by George Bennett, published in 1869, the author lists Kingston among the families who settled on undertaker Phane Becher’s seignory in Kinalmeaky during the Munster Plantation. Becher received his grant in 1588. Elsewhere in the same volume Bennett refers to a Richard Kingston, who was involved in a court judgement in Bandon in 1619. In addition there are two Kingston deponents in West Cork in the 1641 depositions, a Paul Kingston in Breaghna near Ahiohill and a Thomas Kingston in Clonakilty. Furthermore, a Paul Kingston is documented to have settled in Castlemahon seignory (near Bandon) by 1611, where he held a lease of one hundred acres. There can be no doubt, therefore, that Kingstons were established in Co. Cork before Colonel Samuel’s time, and it is likely that Colonel Samuel was a member of one of these families.
Our project has so far established that all Irish Kingston families who have undergone DNA testing share a common Kingston ancestor. Furthermore, these Irish Kingstons have also been proven by DNA analysis to share a common Kingston ancestor with Kingstons who never came to Ireland but who have known origins in Northamptonshire and neighbouring Bedfordshire in England. Significantly, the Kingstons from Somerset who have been tested so far do not provide a DNA match with Irish Kingstons. Therefore it is highly likely that the Kingstons who settled in West Cork in the early 1600s came from Northamptonshire, where the Kingston family had been estabished established since at least 1521 (when the will of a Kyngston from the village of Stoke Bruerne was written) and quite possibly since 1301 (when a Keniston from the same village of Stoke Bruerne was named in tax assessment documents). A paper entitled "Revisiting the origins of Co. Cork Kingstons", written by the project administrator, appears in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (JCHAS), Volume 116, 2011. The paper discusses this DNA project, it details research into early Co. Cork and Northamptonshire Kingstons.
The Results Discussion section of this website elaborates on the genetics of these Kingston families, including discussion on the early origins of the ancestors of various Kingston families before surnames were first adopted. The ancestors of Irish/Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire (Group A) Kingstons may have first come to Britain as Roman soldiers, and this is argued on the basis of characteristics in Y chromosome results which suggest western Asian origins. The ancestors of Yorkshire (Group B) Kingstons have Y chromosome results which point to Scandanavian origins, suggesting that their first arrival in Britain may have been as Vikings.
The lack of surviving records makes linking to the early Co. Cork Kingston settlers by traditional genealogical means impossible for most Kingstons of Irish descent. However, Y-chromosome analysis offers the solution. The same is true for people investigating Kingston origins elsewhere. Y-chromosome analysis of Kingston families, wherever their origins lie, enables us to build an understanding of the very earliest origins of the surname and the inter-relatedness of those who carry the surname. Kingstons can now be found all over the world, and Y-chromosome analysis is likely to continue to provide many answers for these families. As the project now contains DNA results from members of seven distinct unrelated Kingston families with varied origins, a wide spectrum of Kingstons are represented in this project and, accordingly, the chances of future participant families finding a useful match are significantly increased. The project welcomes all Kingstons to participate, and strives to investigate the origins of all families who carry the surname.
Additional information about this project can be seen at our World Families Network Kingston DNA Project
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