Recorded as Deeny, Denny and Denney, this surname of the British Isles has three quite distinct possible origins. The first of these is an English and Scottish example of a surname created from a personal name. This was a frequent occurrence in the Middle Ages. In this case, the development is from the personal name "Denis" or "Dennis", which itself derives from the Greek "Dionysus", who was the God of wine and revelry! This is a name which was introduced by the returning Crusaders and pilgrims to the Holy Land in the 12th century. It was given to a son in honour of his fathers visit. The second source is Scottish locational, from the town of Denny in the former county of Stirlingshire, and the third source is also locational but from England, this time from the village of Denry in Cambridgeshire. The derivation of this village name is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Dene", meaning "Dane" and "eg", an island. The name would denote someone who lived at or by "the Dane's island". The name is also recorded in Ireland and as Deeny in County Donegal. There it is believed to have bneen a nickname from the ancient Gaelic word 'duibhne', meaning touchy or disagreeable! Amongst the many recordings is that of sisters Bridget and Margaret Deeney who emigrated to America on the ship "Windsor Castle" to escape from the ravages of the "Potato Famine" of 1846 - 1848. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes Denny, which was dated 1379, in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as Richard of Bordeaux, 1377 - 1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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