Fenny History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the Fenny family goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It is derived from the family living near a marsh or swamp. Another name for wetlands is fen, in the Old English fenn, from which this name is derived. [1] There are two place-names that may serve as sources for the name as well: Fen, in Lincolnshire, and Venn, in Devon.

Early Origins of the Fenny family

The surname Fenny was 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 Fenny 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. [2]

From this first record, records of the family were scattered. Thomas attefenne was a Templar Knight in Warwickshire in 1185, Ralph de Fenne was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1190, Herveus del Fen was listed in Suffolk in 1190, John atte Venne was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Somerset in 1327, and Walter en la Fenne was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1340. [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 has two listings: Isabella ate Fenne, Oxfordshire; and Robert de la Fenne, Somerset. In Norfolk, John atte Fen was Bailiff of Yarmouth in 1377 and Thomas Fenn, was similarly bailiff of Yarmouth. [3]

The Close Rolls, like many early rolls listed entries in the relation to the year of the king's reign where the first number is the year, followed by the king's name. By example, John atte Fene, Close Rolls, 14 Edward III, denoted the entry was made in the fourteenth year of Edward III's reign. From this example, the reader can better understand Walter atte Fenne, Close Rolls, 1 Edward II; Thomas de Fenne, Close Rolls, 2 Edward I; and Roger atte Fenne, Somerset, 1 Edward III. [4]

Early History of the Fenny family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fenny research. Another 137 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1176, 1185, 1190, 1199, 1297, 1586, 1650, 1639, 1637, 1615, 1987, 1691, 1740, 1687, 1586, 1650, 1641, 1650 and 1723 are included under the topic Early Fenny History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fenny Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Fenny include Fenn, Fenne, Fennoy, Fann, Fan, Venn, Fen and others.

Early Notables of the Fenny family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: John Venn (1586-1650), English regicide, second son of Simon Venn of Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset; Sir Richard Venn or Fenn (died 1639), an English merchant and politician, Lord Mayor of London in 1637; and John Fenn (d. December 1615), an English Roman Catholic priest, writer and Catholic martyr, beatified in 1987. Richard Venn (1691-1740), was an English divine, born at Holbeton, Devonshire, the eldest...
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fenny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Fenny migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Fenny or a variant listed above:

Fenny Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Dan Fenny, who arrived in Virginia in 1663 [5]
  • Eleanor Fenny, who arrived in Maryland in 1669 [5]
Fenny Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Fenny, who landed in South Carolina in 1808 [5]

Australia Fenny migration to Australia +

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

Fenny Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Fenny, English convict who was convicted in Essex, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Augusta Jessie" on 27 September 1834, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Fenny (post 1700) +

  • Fenny Heemskerk (1919-2007), Dutch female chess master


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/augusta-jessie


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