Denniss History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Denniss is an ancient name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of emigration that followed the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The name 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 Denniss family

The surname Denniss 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 Denniss family

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

Denniss Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Dennis, Denis, Dennys, Dennyss, Denys, Denniss and many more.

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

Ireland Migration of the Denniss family to Ireland

Some of the Denniss family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Denniss migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Denniss or a variant listed above:

Denniss Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Denniss, who arrived in America in 1697 [8]

Australia Denniss migration to Australia +

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

Denniss Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Denniss, (Dennis), (b. 1820), aged 22, English labourer who was convicted in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England for life for robbery, transported aboard the "Eden" on 12th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Island) [9]

New Zealand Denniss 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:

Denniss Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Denniss, (b. 1869), aged 4, Cornish settler departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [10]
  • Mr. Francis Denniss, (b. 1860), aged 13, Cornish farm labourer departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [10]
  • Mr. George Denniss, (b. 1828), aged 45, Cornish stone cleaver departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [10]
  • Mr. George Denniss, (b. 1853), aged 20, Cornish stone cleaver departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [10]
  • Mr. Harry Denniss, (b. 1867), aged 6, Cornish settler departing on 19th May 1873 aboard the ship "Columbus" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 2nd September 1873 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  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. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th December 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eden
  10. ^ 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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