This famous Cornish surname is locational in origin, deriving from the place called Penhaligon situated in the parish of Bodmin. The placename is derived from the Cornish "pen", head, top, end, with "helygen", willow tree, thus "the top or head (land) of the willow trees". The majority of truly Cornish surnames are locational, and many of them contain "pen" as the first element; the Cornish language is closely allied with the Old Celtic languages of the Bretons and the Welsh, and indeed the Welsh meaning of "pen" is "top" or "hill".Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace, the surname thus being distributed around the country. The christening of Jane, daughter of Arthur and Jane Pennaliggen, was recorded at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, in London, on March 13th 1683, and Thomas Penhaligon married Sarah Coomb in East Newlyn, Cornwall, on September 5th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henrye Pennaligan, which was dated January 9th 1597, witness at the christening of his daughter Elizabeth, at St. Issey, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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