This unusual and interesting surname is of Irish origin and is a dialectal variant of the name Kidney, an Anglicised form of the Gaelic O Dubhain, the prefix "O" meaning descendant of, plus "Dubbin", normally a byname from a diminutive of "dubb" meaning black, but in this instance as a result of association with the homonymous "dubham", it means kidney.
I have been informed that the first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Kidney, who on 1st June 1598, was married to Jane Bulton, at Harrow on the Hill, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603.
However I am told by Martyn Kitney that we have relatives that came from Ireland c1550 whose names are Richard & Anne Kidney but I am still searching for some records to prove this, maybe he has confused them with the above.
The earliest Kidney Church Record in Kent that I have found is the baptism of Edmund Kidney, son of Edmund, who was baptised at Boxley in 1625.
Then there were two marriages:
Kidney. Edmund of Boxley married (1) Sarah Harper of Boxley, 20 Jul 1651 at Allington.
Kidney. Edmund of Boxley married (2) Thomasin Coveney of Boxley, 13 Mar 1655 at Maidstone.
The next births were:
Kidney. Edmund son of Edmund/Thomasin Coveney, Bp. 1660 at Detling
Kidney. John son of Edmund/Thomasin Coveney, Bp. 16 May 1663 at Detling.
In the Church Records, Edmund Kidney who in 1633 was " Fined and made to kneel in the aisle of Boxley Church for six Sundays for being drunk on Easter Sunday". Could he be the grandfather of Edmund and John?
The Kidney name continues through to the 1770s when the record for Abraham Kidney’s marriage names him as Kytney and his children were then baptised as Kitney.
Abraham died when his three children were aged between 5 and 2 and just five years later his wife Sarah died, leaving the children orphaned at nearly 11, 9 and 7 years. I suppose my branch of the Kitney family was lucky to continue given the difficult start to life my ancestors had.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s there were many examples of Kidney children being baptised Kitney and also Kitney children baptised Kidney. In fact many Kidney and Kitney families in those times had both Kidney and Kitney children in the family, depending on how the Vicar recorded them in the register.
This trend continued to the start of the 20thC. and BMD and Census records often list Kidney for Kitney and vice versa. However it is can be assumed that the Kentish Kidney and Kitney families can all trace their roots back to the early Kidney families.
A Coat of Arms was granted to David Kidney, a merchant in London in 1765, it is blue, on a gold chevron between two silver lambs in chief and a silver ram in base three red lambs kidneys. The Crest is on a green mount an eagle requardant rising proper, in the beak a kidney, as in the arms.
Heraldically It may be described as "Azure, on a chevron Or between in chief two lambs and in a base a ram Argent three lambs kidneys Gules".