Deniss History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Deniss arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Deniss comes from the medieval given name, Dennis, which comes from the Greek name Dionysios, which means a follower of the god Dionysius. [1] [2]

There is also evidence that some of the family originated in Normandy: "Richard, Fulco, Geoffry, Roger, Hugh, Matthew, Robert Daneis of Normandy, 1180-98 (Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae.)" [3]

Early Origins of the Deniss family

The surname Deniss was 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 kilometers (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.

Early rolls listed the name as a forename and surname as was typical of the times. Early Lincolnshire records show: Dionisius de Chotum; Dionisia; and Denis de Sixlea in the Pipe Rolls of 1176. Other early entries include: Deonisia in the Curia Regis Rolls for Yorkshire in 1212; Denise in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1321; Deonis in the Subsidy Rolls for Somerset in 1327; Dionis ate Brome in the Subsidy Rolls for Surrey in 1332; Denes; and Walter Denys in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1272. [4]

The manor of Lesnewth in Cornwall belonged to the Dennis family in the reign of Charles I., "but it is now the property of E. J. Glynn, Esq. in whose family it has been vested nearly a century." [5]

In Devon, the Abbey of Ashburton and the adjacent lands were granted to Sir Thomas Dennis, and descended in his family in the 13th century. [6]

"Dennis is an ancient name in Devonshire. In the reign of Henry II. an influential family of Le Deneis resided at Pancrasweek, in the hundred of Black Torrington, and from them sprang the knightly family of Dennis, of Blagdon and Manaton, and the families of Dennis of Holcomb - Buraell, Colliscombe, etc., in the 16th and 17th centuries (W. A. and W.). Dennis was a Bideford name in the 16th and 17th centuries, Anthony Dennis, of Orleigh, being mayor in the reign of James I., whilst Robert Dennis was a Bideford alderman somewhere about this period." [7]

Early History of the Deniss family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Deniss research. Another 99 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1379, 1500, 1546, 1498, 1477, 1561, 1507, 1554, 1592, 1555, 1591, 1609, 1606, 1660, 1616, 1692, 1660, 1679, 1628, 1693, 1656, 1657, 1734 and 1700 are included under the topic Early Deniss History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Deniss Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Dennis, Denis, Dennys, Dennyss, Denys, Denniss and many more.

Early Notables of the Deniss family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Thomas Denys (d.1498) of Holcombe Burnell; and his son, Sir Thomas Denys (c.1477-1561), English politician and landholder of estates in Devon at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, nine-time Sheriff of Devon between 1507 and 1554, and Member of Parliament for Devon; and his son, Sir Robert Dennis (died 1592) of Holcombe Burnell, Member of Parliament for Devon in 1555 and served as Sheriff of Devon, he founded Livery Dole...
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Deniss Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Deniss family to Ireland

Some of the Deniss family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Deniss migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Deniss Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Deniss, (b. 1858), aged 15, Cornish farm labourer departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [8]


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  3. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  6. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  7. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf


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