Show ContentsPens History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Pens comes from when the family resided near an area that was referred to as the Penn. The surname Pens 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]

"Pen is a Celtic topographical word, signifying 'a conical top, generally in a range of hills, as Penchrise-pen, Skelfhill-pen, &c.'. But there are several parishes, &c., to which this signification does not apply, in the counties of Buckingham and Stafford." [2]

Early Origins of the Pens family

The surname Pens was first found in Buckingham at Penn, a parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham. [3]

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, [4] 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. [2] [5]

Early rolls provide a glimpse of various spellings and areas of ancient Britain that at one time were the family's ancient homesteads. Warin de Penne was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Staffordshire in 1176 and a few years later, Walter de la Penne was found in the Pipe Rolls for Berkshire in 1196. John ate Penne was listed in Cornwall in 1297; Adam son of Penne was listed at Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1277; and John Penn(e) was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1327 and the Subsidy Rolls for Essex. [6]

Early History of the Pens family

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

Pens Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore,spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Pens has been recorded under many different variations, including Penn, Pen, Penner and others.

Early Notables of the Pens family

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 Pens Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Pens family to Ireland

Some of the Pens 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 Pens migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Pens or a variant listed above:

Pens Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johannes Pens, aged 23, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732 [7]
  • Peter Pens, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1762 [7]

The Pens 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. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  5. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  6. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  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) on Facebook