Dennis History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [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 Dennis family

The surname Dennis 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 Dennis family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dennis 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 Dennis History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dennis Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Dennis 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 Dennis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dennis World Ranking

In the United States, the name Dennis is the 355th most popular surname with an estimated 77,097 people with that name. [8] However, in Canada, the name Dennis is ranked the 776th most popular surname with an estimated 6,930 people with that name. [9] And in Australia, the name Dennis is the 327th popular surname with an estimated 10,915 people with that name. [10] New Zealand ranks Dennis as 652nd with 1,097 people. [11] The United Kingdom ranks Dennis as 457th with 14,271 people. [12]

Ireland Migration of the Dennis family to Ireland

Some of the Dennis 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.


United States Dennis migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Dennis who settled in Boston in 1630
  • Jo Dennis, aged 22, settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Dennis, aged 22, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [13]
  • Jon Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1636 [13]
  • Anne Dennis, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Dennis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Catherine Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [13]
  • Cha Dennis, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [13]
  • Eliz Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [13]
  • Benjamin Dennis, who landed in South Carolina in 1710 [13]
  • Robert Dennis, who arrived in Virginia in 1713 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Dennis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Dennis, who landed in America in 1811 [13]
  • Mrs. Dennis, aged 35, settled in Philadelphia in 1820
  • R F Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [13]
  • T Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [13]
  • Richard Dennis, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Dennis Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. James Henry Dennis, (b. 1883), aged 20, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "St Paul" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 19th July 1903 en route to Houghton, Michigan, USA [14]
  • Mr. Thomas H. Dennis, (b. 1885), aged 20, Cornish carpenter travelling aboard the ship "St Paul" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1905 en route to Ridgefield, New Jersey, USA [14]

Canada Dennis migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dennis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Charles Dennis, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. Henry Dennis U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harboutr, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 he moved on to Pennfield, New Brunswick he died In 1792 in New York [15]
  • Mr. John Dennis U.E. (b. 1758) born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA from New Jersey, USA who settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia c. 1783 he moved on to Beaver Harbour, Nova Scotia in late 1783, by 1789 Pennfield, New Brunswick in 1781 he married Martha Brown in New York in 1793 moving to Alexandria, Virginia before returning to Canada Humber River, Upper Canada, Ontario, they had 5 children he died in 1832 in Toronto [15]
  • Mrs. Martha Dennis U.E., (née Brown) (b. 1749) born in Pennsylvania, USA who settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia c. 1783 she moved with husband to Pennifeld, New Brunswick by 1789, she died in 1837 [15]
  • Mr. Cornelius Dennis U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [15]
Dennis Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Robert Dennis, who arrived in Canada in 1828
  • James Dennis, who arrived in Canada in 1828
  • Mary Dennis, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo, Ireland
  • John Dennis, who landed in Canada in 1840
  • Platt Dennis, who landed in Canada in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Dennis migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Dennis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Dennis, English convict who was convicted in East Riding, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 5th June 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [16]
  • Mr. James Dennis, (b. 1792), aged 30, Irish ploughman who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 3rd September 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [17]
  • Mr. Samuel Dennis, English convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Chapman" on 6th April 1824, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [18]
  • Samuel Dennis, English convict from Chester, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [19]
  • Mr. Francis Dennis, (b. 1817), aged 13, Cornish convict who was convicted in Cornwall, England for life, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 22nd July 1830, arriving in New South Wales [20]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Dennis 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:

Dennis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Dennis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Maori" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 3rd November 1859 [21]
  • Mr. Frederick Dennis, (b. 1864), aged Infant, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "British Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 6th September 1864 [21]
  • Mr. Samuel Dennis, (b. 1821), aged 43, British farm labourer travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "British Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 6th September 1864 [21]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Dennis, (b. 1827), aged 37, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "British Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 6th September 1864 [21]
  • Miss Mary Dennis, (b. 1853), aged 11, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "British Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 6th September 1864 [21]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Dennis migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [22]
Dennis Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Danniel Dennis was banished to Barbados in 1635
  • Daniell Dennis, aged 22, who arrived in Barbados in 1635 [13]
  • Tho Dennis, aged 18, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [13]
  • Mr. Daniell Dennis, (b. 1613), aged 22, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Peter Bonaventure" arriving in Barbados and St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [23]
  • Mr. Thomas Dennis, (b. 1617), aged 18, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Alexander" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [24]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Dennis (post 1700) +

  • Avery Dennis Sr. (1929-2015), nicknamed "Chief Eagle Eye," an American Shinnecock tribal politician, activist and substance abuse counselor
  • Brevet Brigadier General John Benjamin Dennis (1835-1894), Union Army officer during the American Civil War
  • John Dennis (1807-1859), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1837-1841)
  • John Dennis (1771-1806), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1797-1805)
  • Matt Dennis (1914-2002), American singer, pianist, band leader and arranger, best known for his 1953 song "Angel Eyes"
  • Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977), American writer and editor
  • Carl Dennis (b. 1939), American poet, winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
  • David Worth Dennis II (1912-1999), Republican United States Representative from Indiana
  • James Blatch Piggott Dennis (1816-1861), English histologist, son of Philip Piggott Dennis, an officer in the army [25]
  • Felix Dennis (1947-2014), English publisher, poet and philanthropist, founder of Dennis Publishing in 1974
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Thomas Dennis, British Seaman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [26]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Ronald Dennis (b. 1918), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Basford, Nottinghamshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [27]
HMS Prince of Wales
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. William Dennis (d. 1912), aged 26, English Third Class passenger from Week St Mary, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [29]
  • Mr. Samuel Dennis (d. 1912), aged 22, English Third Class passenger from Week St Mary, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [29]


Suggested Readings for the name Dennis +

  • 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.

  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  11. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  12. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  13. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  14. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  15. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  18. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 26th January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/chapman)
  19. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  20. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell
  21. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  22. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  23. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 23rd September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  24. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 28th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  25. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  26. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  27. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  28. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  29. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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