- Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this is a surname of Irish origins. It is a development from the ancient Gaelic name O' Catharnaigh, meaning the male descendant of of the warlike chief. As Carney it is almost confined to the province of Connacht, and particularly County Mayo, while as Kearney it is found in the four provinces. The first chief as well as being called "Warlike" had the nickname of An Sionnach, or "The fox", and for this reason it is claimed that some Fox nameholders in Ireland are not originally from England but in the 16th century anglicised the surname to Fox. The modern surname can be found as Carney, Corney, Kearney, O' Caherny, O' Carney, Keherney, McCarney and Fox. Amongst the recordings in Ireland are the christening of Mary, daughter of Edward and Mary Carney, on June 5th 1664 at St. Michas, Dublin and the marriage of James Kearney and Catherine Martin on December 29th 1794 at St. John's Limerick. James Corney and his son also called James, left the port of Liverpool bound for New York on April 10th 1847, at the time of the infamous Potato Famine in Ireland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tadhg O' Catharnaigh, and dated 1084, at Teffia, in County Meath, Ireland, during the reign of King Turlough, King of Ireland, 1072 - 1086. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.