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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

This study of the KAIN family started by me about 1990 when I acquired a new computer and there was a Family History program installed with it.

A photo of my Great Grandfather (William Kain born 1824), written on the back was Sir William Kain.

Off I go to the Records Office, then at Islington, London to see what we could find out.

As for my Great Grandfather being knighted, well I could find no Knighthood for him, and on closer examination it looked as if my father had written it. Why? Well some information I came across describes him as a gentleman, this along with the picture and the fact that at one time he had two shops making shoes and boots. I believe an assumption by my father was made.

Now I'm here with a One-Name study.

Variant names

I have registered KAIN and the variants of KAINE and KANE at the moment as other variants beginning with 'C' may take up too much of my time. We'll see.

Name origin

This I believe for KAIN is a bit dependant on what book you read or web-site you look at.

Recorded as Kain, Kane, Kann, and Kayne, this interesting surname is regarded as English, but has several possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Old French origin, either a nickname for a tall, thin man, as some fifteen percent of all surnames are known to come from a nickname source. Secondly it may be an occupational name for a reed weaver or even a reed merchant, one who sold reeds used for thatching, flooring and basket weaving. In both cases the derivation is from the word 'cane', meaning reed. Thirdly it may be locational and again French, and describe a former inhabitant of the town of Caen, in Normandy. Meaning 'Battlefield', it is named from the 'fused' 6th century Gaulish elements 'catu' (battle), and 'magos', a field. Lastly the name may be of Welsh origin, deriving from the male given name 'Cain' or the female 'Keina', both meaning 'good looking', or perhaps as a short form of other Welsh personal names as Ceindrych, Ceinlys, Ceinwen. all feminine, from Welsh Cain 'beautiful'. Early examples of the surname recording in the surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include the marriage of Michael Cain to Rebecca Chapell, on February 2nd 1600, at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, and that of Mary Kann, the daughter of Joseph Kann, who was christened at St Benets church, Pauls Wharf, on October 23rd 1692. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey Kein. This was dated 1198, in the register of the abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk', during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199.

Historical occurrences of the name

Possibly the most famous in modern history is that of Edgar James 'Cobber' KAIN, DFC flying officer no. 39534 of 73rd squadron, who was one of the first air aces of the Second World War.
Between November 8th 1939 and may 27th 1940 his tally was 16 enemy aircraft destroyed and 1 damaged.
He was killed in France June 6th 1940 after taking off, on orders to return to England, and did a slow roll past the airfield and his Hurricane wing clipped the ground, crashed killing him, age 21.


Most of the data I have collected is for England as that is where my family is from. Although a lot is from North America and some from Ireland and Scotland. None from Wales as yet.

There is a few bit bits from New Zealand where 'Cobber' Kain was born.

Also some from Australia.

But collecting whatever I come across and recording it.