Show ContentsFentress History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Fentress is derived from the Middle English word "aventurous," meaning "the venturous." [1]

Another source "suggests La Ventrouse in the arrondissement of Montagne, Normandy, as the home of the family." [2]

Following the Norman theme, we found Ralph Ventras, or Vintras, Normandy 1180-95 in the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae. [3]

Early Origins of the Fentress family

The surname Fentress was first found in Huntingdonshire where William A Ventur was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1279. Years later, William le Ventre was found in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1327. Francis Ventreys was listed in the Feet of Fines for Huntingdonshire in 1600. [1]

Some records point to Cambridgeshire, where the family was first referenced in the 13th century when they held a family seat at Wittlesford.

The Venters variant is typically found in Scotland where the name is "current in Fife," but like the English variants, there is much debate as to the origin. [4]

Early History of the Fentress family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fentress research. Another 110 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1586, 1614, 1650, 1642, 1674, 1645, 1691, 1645, 1653, 1654, 1661, 1681, 1688, 1689, 1603 and 1610 are included under the topic Early Fentress History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fentress Spelling Variations

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 Fentress include Ventris, Ventres, Venters, Ventrus, Ventras, Venture, Ventures, Ventrice, Ventriss, Fentress, Fentris and many more.

Early Notables of the Fentress family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir Peyton Ventris (1645-1691), English judge and politician. He was the "eldest surviving son of Edward Ventris, barrister-at-law, of Gray's Inn and Granhams, Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire (a scion of a Bedfordshire family of some antiquity), by Mary, daughter of John Breuse of Wenham Hall, Suffolk, was born at Wenham Hall in November 1645. He was admitted on 3 Feb. 1653-1654 a member of the Middle Temple, where he was called to the bar on 2 June 1661. Failing to secure a practice, he devoted himself to...
Another 92 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fentress Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fentress Ranking

In the United States, the name Fentress is the 12,429th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

Migration of the Fentress family

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: Robert Fentrice, who settled in Virginia in 1642; Michael Fentriss, who arrived in Virginia in 1724; as did Benjamin Ventris in 1749; and John Ventris, who immigrated to Maryland in 1756..

Contemporary Notables of the name Fentress (post 1700) +

  • Paul Lyon Fentress (1913-1983), American field hockey player at the 1936 Summer Olympics
  • Elizabeth Barringer Fentress (b. 1948), American archaeologist who specializes in Roman studies
  • Curtis Fentress FAIA, RIBA (b. 1947), American Architect, founder and Principal-in-Charge of Design at Fentress Architects
  • James Fentress, American politician, Member of Tennessee State House of Representatives, 1814-25; Speaker of the Tennessee State House of Representatives, 1815-17, 1819-25 [6]
  • E. S. Fentress, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1940 [6]
  • David Fentress, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Maryland 4th District, 1970 [6]
  • Thomas Fentress Toon (1840-1902), American brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. 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. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook