Tennent History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The chronicles of Scottish history reveal that the first people to use the name Tennent were the Strathclyde-Britons. It was a name for a tenant farmer. The name was applied to those who paid for the rent on their land through working the fields and donating a percentage of the take to the landlord. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Early Origins of the Tennent family

The surname Tennent was first found in Linlithgowshire (Gaelic: Lodainn an Iar), former county in south-central Scotland, now the Council Area West Lothian, where they held a family seat at Crestone or Creston from about the year 1150 A.D.

Early records in Scotland include: William tenant of Crestone of county of Linlescu, 1296. His seal shows a large dog and 'S' Will'l Tenavont.' Thomas Tenaunt was one of the witnesses in the inquiry concerning the Templars in 1309, and John tenant was one of the garrison of Edinburgh Castle, (1339-1340.) John Tennand was one of the burgesses of Stirling who attacked the cruives and fishings of the abbot and convent of Cambuskenneth, 1366. [5]

A little further to the south in England, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Willelmus Tenaunt; Johannes Tenant; and Ricardus Tenaunt. [6]

The Subsidy Rolls of Cumbria (Cumberland) in 1332 included Richard Tenand and in the same year, Robert Tenaunt was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Lancashire. [7]

Early History of the Tennent family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tennent research. Another 237 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1320, 1339, 1366, 1500, 1519, 1539, 1542, 1550, 1555, 1644, 1649, 1564, 1565, 1563, 1748, 1549, 1673, 1746, 1695, 1706, 1718, 1727, 1740 and 1777 are included under the topic Early Tennent History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tennent Spelling Variations

Prior to the first dictionaries, scribes spelled words according to sound. This, and the fact that Scottish names were repeatedly translated from Gaelic to English and back, contributed to the enormous number of spelling variations in Scottish names. Tennent has been spelled Tennant, tenant, Tennand, Tennan, Tenman, Tennend, Tennent, Tenand and many more.

Early Notables of the Tennent family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Tennent of Listonshiels (died c. 1549), a servant and companion of James V of Scotland; and William Tennent (1673-1746), an early American religious leader and educator in British North America. Born in Mid Calder, Linlithgowshire, Scotland, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh in...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Tennent Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Tennent family to Ireland

Some of the Tennent 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 Tennent migration to the United States +

In such difficult times, the difficulties of raising the money to cross the Atlantic to North America did not seem so large compared to the problems of keeping a family together in Scotland. It was a journey well worth the cost, since it was rewarded with land and freedom the Scots could not find at home. The American War of Independence solidified that freedom, and many of those settlers went on to play important parts in the forging of a great nation. Among them:

Tennent Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Cooper Tennent, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • Mrs. E S Tennent, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]

New Zealand Tennent 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:

Tennent Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Tennent, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Harwood" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 4th November 1858 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Tennent (post 1700) +

  • Madge Tennent (1889-1972), American artist of Hawaii
  • Hugh Tennent (1863-1890), Scottish brewer known for beginning the production of Wellpark Brewery's "Tennent's Lager"
  • Peter Tennent, Mayor of New Plymouth, New Zealand
  • Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804-1869), 1st Baronet, British politician, 5th Colonial Secretary of Ceylon (1846-1850), third son of William Emerson (d. 1821), merchant of Belfast
  • Hector Tennent (1842-1904), Australian cricketer who played for Lancashire from 1865 to 1878
  • Henry Moncrieff "H. M." Tennent (1879-1941), British theatre impresario
  • Gilbert Tennent (1703-1764), Irish Presbyterian clergyman
  • William Blair Tennent CBE (1898-1976), New Zealand politician, Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Palmerston North (1949-1954)
  • Tennent Lomax (1858-1902), American Democratic Party politician, Secretary of Alabama Democratic Party, 1878-88; Montgomery County Solicitor, 1887-1902; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Alabama, 1888, 1896, 1900 [10]


The Tennent 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: Plena Dabit Deus Vela
Motto Translation: God will fill our sails.


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


Houseofnames.com on Facebook