Penn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestry of the name Penn dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived near an area that was referred to as the Penn. The surname Penn 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 Penn family

The surname Penn 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 Penn family

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

Penn Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Penn have been found, including Penn, Pen, Penner and others.

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

Penn Ranking

In the United States, the name Penn is the 1,417th most popular surname with an estimated 22,383 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Penn family to Ireland

Some of the Penn 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 Penn migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Penn, or a variant listed above:

Penn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Penn, who settled in Virginia in 1620
  • Robert Penn, who arrived in Virginia in 1620 [7]
  • Christian Penn, who settled in Plymouth in 1621
  • Christian Penn, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1623 [7]
  • Elizabeth Penn, who landed in Virginia in 1650 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Penn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Penn, who landed in Texas in 1830 [7]

Australia Penn migration to Australia +

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

Penn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Penn, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Duke of Richmond" in 1846 [8]
  • James Penn, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Princess Royal" in 1848 [9]
  • Mr. Samuel Penn, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Slains Castle" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 25th January 1851 [10]
  • Elijah Penn, aged 18, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Amazon" [11]

New Zealand Penn 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:

Penn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Penn, aged 31, a gardener, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Eliza Penn, aged 30, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Thomas W. Penn, aged 10, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Sarah Penn, aged 7, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Annie Penn, aged 3, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874

West Indies Penn migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [12]
Penn Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Francis Penn, aged 22, who arrived in St Christopher in 1635 [7]
  • Mr. Francis Penn, (b. 1613), aged 22, British settler traveling aboard the ship "Matthew" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [13]

Contemporary Notables of the name Penn (post 1700) +

  • William Penn (1644-1718), English Quaker and founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania (the future U.S. state of Pennsylvania), son of Admiral Sir William Penn
  • John Penn (1729-1795), American Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania from 1763 to 1776
  • Sean Justin Penn (b. 1960), American two-time Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe Award winning film actor and director
  • Arthur Penn (1922-2010), American filmmaker best known as the director of "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967)
  • Christopher Shannon "Chris" Penn (1965-2006), American film and television actor known for his roles in such films as Reservoir Dogs, Footloose and True Romance. He is the brother of Sean and Michael Penn
  • John Penn (1741-1788), American signer of Declaration of Independence
  • Irving Penn (1917-2009), American photographer known for his portraiture and fashion photography
  • Michael Penn (b. 1958), American singer and songwriter and the brother of actors Sean Penn and Chris Penn
  • Admiral William Penn (1621-1670), English admiral and general at sea, father of founding father William Penn; the elder hailed from Bristol and was second son of Giles Penn, a merchant and sea-captain trading to the Mediterranean
  • Granville Penn (1761-1844), English author, second surviving son of Thomas Penn
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Hillcrest Coal Mine
  • Mr. Robert W Penn (1891-1914), English Timberman from Crosby Pit, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom who worked in the Hillcrest Coal Mine, Alberta, Canada and died in the mine collapse [14]
  • Mr. James Penn (1863-1914), English Miner from Crosby Pit, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom who worked in the Hillcrest Coal Mine, Alberta, Canada and died in the mine collapse [14]


The Penn 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.


Suggested Readings for the name Penn +

  • The Storm Gathering: the Penn Family and the American Revolution by Lorett Treese.
  • The Penn Ancestors of Corine Penn Christian: Descendant of Abram Penn, 2nd of the Penn Family of Virginia by Mary Christian.

  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque DUKE OF RICHMOND 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846DukeOfRichmond.gif
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCESS ROYAL 1848. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848PrincessRoyal.htm
  10. ^ The Argus News Paper 27th January 1852 Page 2 (Retrieved 26th April 2019). Retrieved from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4775844?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FA%2Ftitle%2F13%2F1851%2F01%2F27%2Fpage%2F505154%2Farticle%2F4775844
  11. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) AMAZON 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/amazon1852.shtml
  12. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  13. ^ Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021, retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  14. ^ List Of Miners - Hillcrest Mine Disaster Data. (Retrieved 2014, June 24) . Retrieved from http://www.hillcrestminedisaster.com/data/index.php?title=List_Of_Miners


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