There are three possible sources of this rare and interesting name, the first being that it is a dialectal variant of Fen, a locational name so called from places in Cambridgeshire and the West Midlands i.e Fen Drayton, Fen End, and Fenby in Lincolnshire. However it could also be a topographical name for a person who lived near a marsh or fen. The derivation for both of these is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fenn" meaning a marsh or a fen. Fenn Place in West Sussex, had owners for several generations called from it Atte Fenne, until circa 1422 when they changed to Fenner. The last possibility is that the name is occupational for a hunter, and Venner or Fenner, which is a derivation of the Old French "Veneor", "Veneur", hunter or huntsman. One Robert Fenna was christened on May 20th 1719 at St. Dunstans Stpeney and one Thomas Fenna married Mary Price on April 14th 1745 at St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godwin de la Fenna, which was dated 1176, The Pipe Rolls of Devon, during the reign of King Henry II, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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