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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

The origins of the Fenn name come from when the Anglo-Saxon tribes ruled over Britain. The name Fenn was originally derived from a family having lived near a marsh or swamp. Another name for wetlands is fen, in the Old English fenn, from which this name is derived. There are two place-names that may serve as sources for the name as well: Fen, in Lincolnshire, and Venn, in Devon.


Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Fenn include Fenn, Fenne, Fennoy, Fann, Fan, Venn, Fen and others.

First found in Devon, where the family held a family seat from early times. The origins of the name make it likely that several branches of the Fenn family emerged independently in different areas during the Middle Ages. The earliest known bearer of the name was Godwin de la Fenna, who was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of 1176.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fenn research. Another 273 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1176, 1185, 1190, 1199, 1297, 1639, 1637, 1723, 1615, 1987, 1687, 1586, 1650, 1641 and 1650 are included under the topic Early Fenn History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 187 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fenn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Fenn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Richard Fenn settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Richard Fenn, who landed in Virginia in 1623
  • Benjamin Fenn, who arrived in New Haven, Conn, in 1630
  • Richard Fenn immigrated to New England in 1635
  • Sam Fenn, who arrived in Virginia in 1637

Fenn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Elinor Fenn, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1771
  • James Fenn, who landed in New York in 1796

Fenn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Josefa Fenn, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1813
  • Henry Fenn, who arrived in Ohio in 1888

Fenn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Charles Fenn arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lord Goderich" in 1838

Fenn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Fenn, aged 22, a carpenter, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waitangi" in 1874


  • John Fenn, American playwright and screenwriter
  • Sherilyn Fenn (b. 1965), American actress, best known for her role as Audrey Horne in "Twin Peaks"
  • Harry Fenn (1845-1911), English-American landscape illustrator
  • John Bennett Fenn (1917-2010), American research professor of analytical chemistry, recipient of a share of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002
  • Brigadier-General Clarence Charles Fenn (1890-1971), American Judge-Advocate US Chine-Burma-India Theater of Operations (1942-1945)
  • George Manville Fenn (1831-1909), English author
  • Joanne Fenn (b. 1974), English running athlete
  • Sir John Fenn (1739-1794), English antiquarian
  • Neale Fenn (b. 1977), English-Irish footballer
  • Ollie Fenn (b. 1988), English footballer




  1. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  2. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  3. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  11. ...

The Fenn Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fenn 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 28 March 2014 at 11:19.

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