Pen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Pen name lie with England's ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It comes from when the family lived near an area that was referred to as the Penn. The surname Pen is a toponymic surname which described where the original bearer held land. In this case the surname was originally derived from the Old English words penn, meaning an area that housed stray animals and penn which referred to a hill. [1]

Early Origins of the Pen family

The surname Pen was first found in Buckingham at Penn, a parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham. [2]

Penn is also a parish, in the union, and N. division of the hundred, of Seisdon in Staffordshire and while this parish dates back to the Domesday Book when it was known as Penne, [3] it is the former that traditionally most of the family hails.

Indeed, the family of William Penn (1644-1718), founder of the Province of Pennsylvania (today, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) traces their origin to Penn, Buckinghamshire. [4] [5]

Early History of the Pen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pen research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1621, 1670, 1327, 1644, 1718, 1621, 1670, 1644, 1718, 1674, 1696, 1681, 1720, 1741 and 1788 are included under the topic Early Pen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pen Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Pen were recorded, including Penn, Pen, Penner and others.

Early Notables of the Pen family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir William Penn (1621-1670), an English admiral; and his son, William Penn (1644-1718), an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker who receive a large tract of American land to satisfy a debt the king...
Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Pen family to Ireland

Some of the Pen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Pen migration to the United States +

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Pen family emigrate to North America:

Pen Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jo Pen, aged 16, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [6]
  • William Pen, who arrived in New England in 1675 [6]

Canada Pen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Pen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Pen, aged 20, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834

Contemporary Notables of the name Pen (post 1700) +

  • George Pen Johnston, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 5th District, 1855-56
  • Pen Sovan (1936-2016), Cambodian politician, 32nd Prime Minister of Cambodia in 1981
  • Pen Tennyson (1912-1941), British film director


The Pen Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Dum clarum rectum teneam
Motto Translation: May I keep the line of right as well as of glory.


  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  6. ^ 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)


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