Penny History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Anglo-Saxon culture once found in Britain is the soil from which the many generations of the Penny family have grown. The name Penny was given to a member of the family who was a someone as a personal name or literally derived from the coin. It was derived from the Old English "Penig," denoting a coin. The penny was the only unit of coinage in England until the early 14th century, and as such was a coin of considerable value.

While the Saxon heritage is the generally accepted origin of this family, another source points to a possible Norman origin as the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists Serlo Penné in Normandy in 1180-1195. [1]

Early Origins of the Penny family

The surname Penny was first found in Northampton where they held a family seat from very early times, and before the 12th century had become associated with London and had moved north into Scotland.

Some of the first records of the family in Scotland include: Johannes Peny, a witness in Elgin in 1343; Mr. John Peny, a Scottish clerk, having a safe conduct in England in 1362; and a later John Peny who had a grant of the fulling mill of Ballernache in Perthshire in 1375. [2]

Down in Lancashire, an ancient branch of the family was found. "The neat village of Penny-Bridge, so called perhaps from the British word Pen, 'the head,' was the seat of the family of Penny. The chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, was built and endowed by William Penny, Esq., was consecrated in 1791." [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included various early spellings in many counties: Hurtin Peni in Kent; Alexander Penny in Cambridgeshire; Agatha Peni in Oxfordshire; and Robert Peni in Kent. [4]

Kirby's Quest listed Johanne Peny in Somerset, 1 Edward III (during the first year's reign of King Edward III.) [5]

"In the reign of Anne, John Penny, Esq., lived at Charlton Musgrove, and at the same time a burgess of Glastonbury bore this name." [6]

Early History of the Penny family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Penny research. Another 150 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1433, 1487, 1486, 1487, 1500, 1529, 1683, 1574, 1520, 1477, 1496, 1589, 1296 and are included under the topic Early Penny History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Penny Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Penny family name include Penny, Penney, Pennie, Penne and others.

Early Notables of the Penny family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include John Penny (d. 1520), English Bishop of Carlisle. He was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and at some unknown time became LL.D. of Cambridge. In 1477 he was a canon at the abbey...
Another 38 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Penny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Penny World Ranking

In the United States, the name Penny is the 3,218th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [7] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Penny is ranked the 207th most popular surname with an estimated 203 people with that name. [8] And in Australia, the name Penny is the 924th popular surname with an estimated 4,260 people with that name. [9] New Zealand ranks Penny as 805th with 908 people. [10]

Ireland Migration of the Penny family to Ireland

Some of the Penny family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Penny migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Penny surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Penny Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Penny, who landed in Virginia in 1643 [11]
  • Hugh Penny, who arrived in Maryland in 1658 [11]
  • Erasmus Penny, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [11]
Penny Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Penny, who landed in Virginia in 1700 [11]
  • Eliz Penny, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [11]
  • P. Penny, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1769
  • James Penny, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1770 [11]
  • Charles Penny, who settled in Maryland in 1775
Penny Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • David Penny, aged 25, who landed in Ohio in 1812 [11]
  • John Penny, aged 19, who arrived in New York in 1812 [11]
  • Sarah Penny, who landed in South Carolina in 1816 [11]
  • T Penny, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [11]
  • N S Penny, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Penny Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Harry Penny, (b. 1877), aged 23, Cornish miner, from Gunnislake, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 18th August 1900 en route to Central City, Colorado, USA [12]

Canada Penny migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Penny Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Benedict Penny inherited property in Carbonear which dated back to 1699
Penny Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
Penny Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Henry Penny, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Mary Penny, aged 30, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Bridget Penny, aged 50, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833

Australia Penny migration to Australia +

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

Penny Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Penny, British Convict who was convicted in Worcester, Worcestershire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 27th October 1819, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [14]
  • Mr. Thomas Penny, English convict who was convicted in Wiltshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Augusta Jessie" on 27 September 1834, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • Mr. William Penny, British convict who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "England" on 6th June 1835, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [16]
  • Mr. Robert Penny, (Lindsay), English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Emma Eugenia" on 2nd November 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [17]
  • Thomas Penny, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Eden" in 1838 [18]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Penny 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:

Penny Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J. Penny, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clydeside" in 1841
  • Edward Penny, aged 24, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Elizabeth Penny, aged 23, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Mary Elizabeth Penny, aged 2, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Hannah Maria Penny, aged 7 mths., who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Penny 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. [19]
Penny Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • George Penny who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Geo Penny, aged 24, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [11]
  • Mr. George Penny, (b. 1611), aged 24, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Peter Bonaventure" arriving in Barbados and St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [20]

Contemporary Notables of the name Penny (post 1700) +

  • Bradley Wayne "Brad" Penny (b. 1978), American Major League starting pitcher
  • Timothy Joe Penny (b. 1951), American politician
  • Herbert Clayton Penny (1918-1992), American accomplished banjo player and practitioner of western swing
  • Mabel Penny, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Carolina, 1940 [21]
  • Harold Penny, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1956 [21]
  • Gary Penny, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1972 [21]
  • Charles W. Penny, American Republican politician, Candidate for Mayor of Jackson, Michigan, 1857 [21]
  • Charles H. Penny, American politician, Village President of Park Ridge, Illinois, 1902-07 [21]
  • Alva Penny, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Oneida County 2nd District, 1866 [21]
  • Alfred Penny, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from New Fairfield, 1930 [21]
  • ... (Another 17 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Ms. Ethel Penny, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion (1917) [22]
  • Mrs. Minnie  Penny (1891-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion (1917) [22]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Percy Penny, English 1st Class Cabin Bed Steward from Fulwood Park, Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and survived the sinking [23]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. William Far Penny (d. 1912), aged 30, English Assistant Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [24]
Senghenydd colliery
  • Mr. Harry Penny (b. 1886), Welsh coal miner from Penyrheol, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. Robert Penny (1858-1914), Newfoundlander from Carbonear who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  13. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/augusta-jessie
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th April 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/england
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 29th March 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/emma-eugenia
  18. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) EDEN 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Eden.htm
  19. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  20. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 23rd September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  21. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  22. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  23. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  24. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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