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

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

The distinguished surname Penna originated in an area of Italy, known as the Papal States. Although people were originally known only by a single name, it became necessary for people to adapt a second name to identify themselves as populations grew and travel became more frequent. The process of adopting fixed hereditary surnames was not complete until the modern era, but the use of hereditary family names in Italy began in the 10th and 11th centuries. Italian hereditary surnames were developed according to fairly general principles and they are characterized by a profusion of derivatives coined from given names. Although the most traditional type of family name found in the region of the Papal States is the patronymic surname, which is derived from the father's given name, local surnames are also found. Local names, which are the least frequent of the major types of surnames found in Italy, are derived from a place-name where the original bearer once resided or held land. Often Italian local surnames bore the prefix "di," which signifies emigration from one place to another, but does not necessarily denote nobility. The Penna family lived in one of several places in Italy named Penna.


Italian surnames come in far more variations than the names of most other nationalities. Regional traditions and dialects are a decisive factor in this characteristic. For example, northern names tend to end in "o", while southern in "i". Also important, but not unique to Italy, was the fact that before dictionaries and the printing press most scribes simply spelled words according to their sounds. The predictable result was an enormous number of spelling variations. The recorded spellings of Penna include Penna, Penni, Pa Penna, Papenna, Penne, Penella, Pennelli, Penniello, Pennacchi, Pennario, Pennarella, Pennarelli, Pennarola, Pennetta, Pennetti, Pennino, Pennini, Pennone, Pennoni, Pennacci, Pennazzi, Pennese and many more.

First found in 1189, when Alessio Penna was created Cardinal by Pope Clemente III.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Penna research. More information is included under the topic Early Penna History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 355 words(25 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Penna Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first North American settlers with Penna name or one of its variants:

Penna Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Antonio Penna, aged 10, who emigrated to the United States from Victri, in 1892

Penna Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Antonio Penna, aged 43, who emigrated to the United States from Benevento, in 1904
  • Andrea Penna, aged 16, who emigrated to America from Amalfi Salerno, in 1905
  • Angela Penna, aged 26, who landed in America from Canelli, in 1907
  • Anna Penna, aged 12, who landed in America from Girgenti, Sicily, in 1907
  • Antonina Penna, aged 7, who emigrated to the United States from Talaparuta, Sicily, in 1909


  • David "Dave" Penna (1958-2004), American jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing who had 1,772 career wins
  • Angel A. Penna Sr. (1923-1992), Argentine-born, American Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer
  • Toney G. Penna (1908-1995), Italian-born, American professional golfer and designer of golf clubs and gear, winner of four events on the PGA Tour between 1937 and 1947
  • Phil Penna (1857-1939), American labor leader, President of the United Mine Workers of America (1895-1896)
  • Sandro Penna (1906-1977), Italian poet
  • Joe Penna (b. 1987), Brazilian guitarist, animator, and filmmaker, aka MysteryGuitarMan
  • David Penna (b. 1972), Australian rugby league coach and former player


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  1. Glazier, Ira A. and P. Williams Filby Edition. Italians to America. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Print.
  2. Bongioanni, Angelo. Nomi e Cognomi. Saggio di Ricerche Etimologiche e Storiche. Torino: A. Forni, 1979. Print.
  3. Battilana, Natale, Ed. Genealogie Dello Famiglie Nobili di Genova. Genova: Fratelli Pagano, 1825. Print.
  4. Gheno, Antonio. Contributo alla Bibliografia Genealogica Italiana. Bologna: Forni, 1924. Print.
  5. Stiens, Robert E. Passenger list Italy to New York 1893 In Italian Genealogist. Torrance, CA: Augustan Society No 3, 1983. Print.
  6. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. Finding Italian Roots The Complete Guide for Americans. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2003. Print.
  8. Annuaire Général Héraldique Universel. Paris: Institut Héraldique, 1901. Print.
  9. Guelfi Camajani, Piero. Dizionario Araldico 1940 Reprint Arnoaldo Forni. Milan: 1978. Print.
  10. Bascapè, Giacomo and Marcello del Piazzo. Insegne e Simboli Araldica pubblica e privata medievale e moderna. Rome: 1983. Print.
  11. ...

The Penna Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Penna 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 4 June 2014 at 11:22.

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