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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, French

Where did the English Dennis family come from? What is the English Dennis family crest and coat of arms? When did the Dennis family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Dennis family history?

Dennis is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Dennis comes from the medieval given name, Dennis, which comes from the Greek name Dionysios, which means a follower of the god Dionysius.


Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Dennis, Denis, Dennys, Dennyss, Denys, Denniss and many more.

First found in Lancashire. Conjecturally, the name came to us from Normandy, from the patron saint of France, St. Denis. [1] He was Bishop of Parisii (Paris), but was martyred in the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after 250 AD. Apparently, after he was beheaded by a sword, he picked it up and walked ten kilometres (six miles), preaching a sermon the entire way. After the Norman Conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D., the family were granted extensive lands in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Devon and Cornwall.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dennis research. Another 197 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1379, 1500, 1546, 1609, 1606, 1660, 1616, 1692, 1660, 1679, 1628, 1693, 1656, 1657, 1734 and 1700 are included under the topic Early Dennis History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 141 words(10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dennis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Dennis family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 75 words(5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Dennis or a variant listed above were:

Dennis Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Dennis who settled in Boston in 1630
  • Danniel Dennis was banished to Barbados in 1635
  • Daniell Dennis, aged 22, settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Jo Dennis, aged 22, settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Thomas Dennis aged 18, settled in Barbados in 1635

Dennis Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Catherine Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Cha Dennis, who landed in Virginia in 1703
  • Eliz Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • Benjamin Dennis, who landed in South Carolina in 1710
  • Robt Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1713

Dennis Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Dennis, who landed in America in 1811
  • Mrs. Dennis, aged 35, settled in Philadelphia in 1820
  • R F Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • T Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • W Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851


  • David Worth Dennis II (1912-1999), Republican United States Representative from Indiana
  • Carl Dennis (b. 1939), American poet, winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
  • Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977), American writer and editor
  • Matt Dennis (1914-2002), American singer, pianist, band leader and arranger, best known for his 1953 song "Angel Eyes"
  • John Dennis (1771-1806), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1797-1805)
  • John Dennis (1807-1859), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1837-1841)
  • Brevet Brigadier General John Benjamin Dennis (1835-1894), Union Army officer during the American Civil War
  • Peter Hugh Dennis II (b. 1962), English actor, comedian, writer, impressionist and voice-over artist
  • Nigel Dennis (1912-1989), English writer, critic, playwright and magazine editor
  • Ron Dennis CBE (b. 1947), English chairman, CEO and part owner of the McLaren Group



  • The Ancestors and Descendants of Nathan Dennis, 1650-1982 by Frederick W. Dennis.
  • Dennis and Chorn Kin: A Short Genealogy of Their Connections and a Companion to Lucy Jane Wylder and K.
  • by Jessye Ann High.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  4. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  6. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  11. ...

The Dennis Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Dennis Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 23 June 2014 at 12:50.

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