This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a nickname surname given to someone who had to pay the rent of one half penny, from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "healf", half, and "penig, pening", a penny. The first regular issues of round halfpence were made in the reign of Edward 1. Before this, there had been sporadic issues, but the term was originally used to denote a silver penny that had been literally and legally cut in half to provide smaller change. The nickname may also have been bestowed on a poor man, someone who had few possessions. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), while other early examples include Adam Halpeni, who appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1275, and Richard Halfpany, mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. The name is also found as Halepeny in 1379, and Halfepeny in 1598. Nicholas, son of Nicholas Halfpenny, was christened on February 27th 1604, at St. Mary Woolnoth, in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Halpeni, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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