This long-established surname has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Fenney may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational name from Fenay, now Fenay Bridge, a hamlet south east of Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire, so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fen", fen, bog, low-lying arshy area, and the Olde English "ea", river, corresponding to the Old Scandinavian "a". As a second element, "ea" now most appears as "ey". Locational surnames were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. The surname is well recorded in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire, entries including: Adam de Feny and Willelmus de Feney. The second possibility is that Fenney is of Gaelic origin, as an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Fiannaidhe", descendant of the warrior, a byname from the earlier "Feinneadha". This sept belonged to North Connacht, particularly Counties Sligo and Roscommon, and the contracted from "O'Fidhne" is found in Galway from whence it was transferred to Scotland where it was rendered Finney. Mary, John and Michael Fenney, aged 19 yrs, 28 yrs. and 32 yrs., respectively, who embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Marmion" bound for New York in November 1846, were famine immigrants into that city. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Fenay, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", 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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