Chief of Clan Kennedy, Marquis of Ailsa Dies Suddenly

News has just reached us of the sudden death of Charles Kennedy, the 8th Marquis of Ailsa and Chief of Clan Kennedy.

Lord Charles: 1956-2015

Lord Charles: 1956-2015

Lord Charles passed away suddenly while over in Florida attending Central Florida Highland Games. He was 58. As well as being Marquis he was also 19th Earl of Cassilis, 21st Lord Kennedy, 8th Baron Ailsa. He has two children; Lady Rosemary Margaret Kennedy (b. 1979)and Lady Alicia-Jane Lesley Kennedy (b. 1981)

It is understood that the title of chief will pass to the Marquess’ brother, Lord David Thomas Kennedy.

The Marquis was due to be chief of Loch Norman Highland Games at Historic Rural Hill later this year.

We will bring you more information as it becomes available.







Lord Charles Kennedy: One of the great characters of the clan scene

The unexpected and untimely passing of Archibald Charles Kennedy, 8th Marquis of Ailsa, 19th Earl of Cassillis, Lord Kennedy and 8th Baron of Ailsa has come as a great shock to the rest of the Kennedy clan, their friends and associates. With his death we loose not only a great clan chief who was tireless in his efforts to build ties between Scotland and the clan diaspora but also one of the few remaining larger than life characters of Scotland’s aristocracy.

Lord Ailsa was educated in Perthshire at the Strathallan School, going on to study forestry and farming. During this time he joined the Queens Own Highlanders Territorial Regiment attached to the 82nd Army Youth Team. There he taught skiing and other mountain skill to young recruits. After graduating he transferred to the 93rd Youth Team, teaching similar skills in the Breacon Beacons in Wales. His army career ended in the Ayrshire Yeomanry which was started by one of his own ancestors 150 years previously.

After leaving the army he was involved in sales and marketing activity relating to agriculture and began his own tour company; Lord Charles Tours where he organised trips to Scotland, Ireland and Sweden.

In 2011 Lord Ailsa was involved in a terrible accident while in Hawaii to open the Hawaiian Scottish Festival. This resulted in the amputation of his lower left leg and his right toes. incredibly this awful injury did little to dampen his enthusiasm, spirit and determination.

He continued with his tour business promoting skiing sledging and snowmobile tours which included the Arctic Circle Trophy Challenge in Sweden. As a result of this he was invited last year to be the first paraplegic to snowmobile through the Swedish Arctic. He did so raising £5,500 for the Scottish Diabetes Association in the process. the 200 mile snowmobile trip almost ended in tragedy when they became trapped by the worst storms to hit the area in over 20 years. Trapped by impassible snowdrifts and winds of over 150 miles an hour Lord Ailsa and his expedition colleagues had to wait three days before rescue rescue services could reach them.

This experience did nothing to dampen his appetite for adventure and a few months later he was in California where despite his disability he was able to complete a seven line canopy tour through a giant redwood forest and heights of up to 300 feet!

ailsaLord Ailsa was a regular visitor to the USA, making several trips every year to attend highland games and festivals. In recognition of this he was made Chief of the Kennedy Honour Guard in Florida. His sudden and unexpected death happened while attending a Scottish festival in Florida and those closest to him have said that he died while doing something he truly loved.

His death at the age of 58 has robbed the Scottish diaspora of a great friend and advocate of Scotland’s heritage worldwide.



About rodger moffet

Rodger is the Director of ScotClans. Expert in all things clan and tartan.

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23 thoughts on “Chief of Clan Kennedy, Marquis of Ailsa Dies Suddenly

  1. Chas MacDonald

    Goodness, that’s awful. Condolences to his family. But, in this day and age, why are his positions not going to his daughter?

    • rodgermoffet Post author

      Chas I don’t know all the details on that. I know there was an inheritance dispute back in the 1700s that ruled towards the male line. There is bill that was going through the parliament that would have meant that inheritance goes to the next in line irrespective of sex but I’m not sure thats been finalised yet, again not sure of the full details -it was at lords second reading stage last year if i remember

      • Suzanne Newton

        It would be extremely interesting If we were to take the matter back to when it was first claimed by the American’s as there are many females that were excluded but perhaps now, may be included in the ‘battle’ (for want of a better word)
        My own family is descended from Elizabeth, sister of David (10th Earl) and Thomas (11th) who married Sir John II Baronet Cathcart.
        I should imagine it would get very messy as it was Thomas’ demise, without issue, that provided the American’s with the opportunity. Even that particular decision was not without problems causing a great deal of ill feeling that even today, does not sit well with descendants.

        Having said all that, the Marquess was an extremely hard worker and highly respected by Kennedy’s world wide. He has been missed.
        30 October 2017

    • rodgermoffet Post author

      This has been really sudden and nobody has been able to react. Most of the clan society are tied up at the Central Florida Games. I spoke last night to Sir Malcolm MacGregor Convenor of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and he had been informed but was keeping it quiet until the daughters had been informed. COSCA have also announced it

    • Paul L. Key, President/Chief KSNA

      I am sorry but Kennedy Society members were not at their computers, but in Orlando dealing with medical examiners, notifying family and other society officials, making arrangements to transport Lord Charles back to Scotland and conducting memorial services at the games, all this while in shock and sorrow ourselves. Early notice was posted on the Kennedy website within 24 hours. We are sorry for the early lack of information. We did not have accurate information immediately and did not want to disseminate inaccurate information in respect for the family. It is really sad when the world wants everything instantaneously.

      Paul L. Key, President/Chief Kennedy Society of America

      • rodgermoffet Post author

        Paul I don’t think anyone is criticising the society for not being the first to announce the news. We ourselves held back until we had spoken to the SCSC and we knew the family had been informed. Alas we do live in a world of instant news but I was impressed by how everyone in the clan community worked together over the weekend. Thats something to take pride in.

  2. Jo E

    I was so looking forward to seeing him again this September at games in Virginia. I will have a good time at the games, but I surely will miss him being there. He was one fine gentleman. Assuming that his brother David becomes 9th Lord Ailsa, I am wondering if he will become the supporter of the Kennedy Society of North America that Lord Charles always was.

  3. Ned Buxton

    Ailsa was a true gentleman (literally and figuratively) who visited the US frequently to the delight of all. On behalf of all Keiths worldwide we offer our condolences. Well done, rest well.

  4. David Fulford

    Charles Kennedy, the 8th Marquis of Ailsa and Chief of Clan Kennedy RIP. Slainté. Always enjoyed his company in Savannah Games.

  5. Brian McKinlay

    Absolutely devastated. My old friend whose company I shared on Christmas day and New year’s day….the sories he related had me in stiches. Another character gone! He will be sadly missed by all (of which there are many) his friends in and around Ayr. RIP Ailsa!! Slainte!!!

  6. Brian McKinlay

    Absolutely devasted at the news. I spent Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in his company. The stories he told had me in stitches. He will be sadly missed by his many friends in and around Ayr. Another character taken from us! RIP Ailsa! Slainte!!

  7. Jo E

    According to official sources (both 8th Marquess Ailsa himself and his personal genealogist), baron was not one of his titles. Baron is a continental title and not a Scottish title. Properly, he was 21st Lord Kennedy, 19th Earl of Cassilis, 8th Marquess of Ailsa. I participated in the Kennedy Quiz put on by the Kennedy Society and that was one of the questions in the first month. I got full credit for my answer since I had all of the correct titles. However, each month the participants received feedback on their answers. The information on the term baron was included in my feedback. His brother is now the 9th Marquess Ailsa. I don’t know if it has been determined if his brother will inherit the other titles or if his older daughter will inherit them.

    • Iain Kennedy

      Not quite right, and those are of course a mix of Scottish and UK titles anyway.
      The Earl was made a UK Baron in 1806 before being made a Marquess. You can see the official announcement in the London Gazette:

      Whitehall, November 4th, 1806
      The King has been pleased to grant the dignity of a Baron of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to the Right Honourable Archibald Earl of Cassillis, and the heirs Male of his body lawfully begotten, by the name, style and title of Baron Ailsa, in the County of Ayr.

      When the arms were finally matriculated in 1899 the full title used by Lord Lyon was “The Most Honourable Archibald Kennedy Earl of Cassillis and Baron Kennedy in the Peerage of Scotland and Marquess of Ailsa and Baron Ailsa of the Isle of Ailsa in the Peerage of the United Kingdom”. The full text is at

  8. Reg Tait

    So sorry to hear of this tragedy. I met Charles at various Burns suppers in Ayr and it was a pleasure to be in his company and that of such a character. I enjoyed his stories of taking part in all the activities of the Scottish diaspora and Highland games including Florida and his tour company. He informed me of the Burns Cottage in Atlanta and many details and as such I visited it the following year.

    Such a sad loss of such a fantastic character and Ayr man that enjoyed life and living.

    Best wishes to his children, family and friends and prayers for Lord Kennedy.

    Reg Tait,

  9. Michael Kennedy

    Our prayers are with the family in Scotland .Slainte your chores are through.
    Clan Kennedy in County Cowley Kansas.

  10. David Curtis

    Hi roger!
    My name is David Curtis my father was Kenneth curtis adopted by the curtis family. Kenneth said that his father Bert Richardson is a son of a Duke and a maid. I’m trying our ancestors in Scotland my father Kenneth Curtis when he was 7 years old visited his grandfather in Girvan Ayrshire. He was told his grandfather lives at the residence. You a letter written by nista whose husband Bod family name is moffit.

  11. Connie Durand

    Our deepest condolences. We only found out, ourselves in 2014 that we were related to both Clan Ross and Clan Stewart (Royal Line) through my dad’s family and my maternal grandmother’s line.

    All our prayers are with the Kennedy Family at this time.

    -The Durands, Wasilla, AK

  12. Robert Findley

    Our Prayers go to the Daughters and God Bless the nation for such a wonderful Man and what he did to keep alive our traditions.
    Robert Findley
    A descendant of Macbeth Macfinley (King of Scots)

  13. Raymond Thomas Kennedy

    My prayers and thoughts for the family of Lord Charles Kennedy…

    From Raymond Thomas Kennedy, Dunedin, New Zealand

    Son of Allan Walter David Kennedy, (1911-1984), Dunedin, New Zealand

    Son of Thomas Kennedy, (1880-1953), Dunedin, New Zealand

    Son of William Kennedy, (1850-1931), Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland & Isabella Munro of Glasgow, (1853-1928), Lanarkshire, Scotland

    Son of Thomas Kennedy, (1816-?), Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland & Margaret McGregor, (1819-?), Halkirk, Caithness, Scotland


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