The surname Kemp is derived from the Old English word "cempa" meaning champion, warrior, soldier, knight and perhaps, athlete. The Old English word was derived from the Latin word campus, meaning plain or field (of battle). The Saxons used a verb to kemp or combat that is retained to this day in Norfolk, England where a football match is referred to as camping or kemping. In some parts of Scotland, the striving of reapers in the harvest-fields is still called kemping.
This surname (and its variations) is found in a number of European countries including:
England: Kemp, Kempe, Kempson
Germany: Kempe, Kempf, Kempfner, Kempfle, Kampf, Kampfl, Kompf, Kempner
Holland: Kemper, Kempers
Poland: Kempa, Kempski, Kepka, Kepa, Kepski, Kempinski, Kepinski, Kepczynski
In England, the name first appeared in Kent where the family was seated from very ancient times, possibly well before the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The first thing that we know about Isaac Kemp is that he was working as a labourer in the parish of Ticehurst, Sussex, in 1817, aged 21. The identity of his parents is unknown, although it appears that he had a brother called William.
At midnight on 12 December 1817, brothers Isaac and William Kemp, along with John Campany, burgled a house in Ticehurst (Sussex) belonging to James Golday with force of arms. The three were caught and tried at the Lent assizes in Sussex on 16 March 1818. Isaac and John Campany were found guilty but they were reprieved from the death sentence and committed to transportation for life. William Kemp was acquitted and discharged.
Three months later, Isaac had the misfortune to sail from England aboard the General Stewart under captain Robert Granger. John Campany was also aboard, as were several other convicts who had been convicted at the Sussex Assizes on the same day as Isaac and John. Also aboard was another of my ancestors: Thomas Casey.
Robert Granger was an incompetent and cruel captain. The voyage of the General Stewart was a nightmare for all on board, particularly the convicts. Many convicts died and many more were hospitalised in Sydney after the ship arrived on New Year's Eve after five and a half months of misery.
On disembarkation, Isaac was described as 5 feet five and a half inches tall with a dark ruddy complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He was 22 years old.
It appears that Isaac was assigned to work as a convict labourer for the Blackman family who had extensive landholdings in the Bathurst to Rylstone area.
Our Kemp ancestors include the following people. Click on any name to access a computer-generated page of information about that person and a list of the information sources.
Click on the name of any of the notable ancestors listed below to read a short biography that I have written about them.
The following Kemp family stories are published on this website.
The following Kemp research reports are published on this website.
The Kemp clan descends from Laurence Kemp and his wife Bridget, who were married before 1722.