This is one of the most famous name in firstly British and then American, history. It has a number of possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be locational from the village of Penn in the county of Berkshire. It is first recorded as Penna de Tapeslawa in the Pipe Rolls of the county in 1188, or from the village of Penn in Staffordshire. This is recorded as "Penne" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The derivation of the name is from the early British language of the pre Roman times word "pen", meaning hill.Walter de la Penne is noted in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire in 1196. Secondly, it may be a metonymic occupational name for a shepherd or an impounder. This is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "penn", meaning a sheep or cattle enclosure often built of stone. John ate Penne is listed in the Ministers Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall in 1296. William Penn (1644 - 1718), the founder of Pennsylvania, was the son of Admiral Penn. On his fathers death In 1680 he obtained from King Charles 11nd of England, a grant of lands in New England, where he was to set up his colony of (initially) only Quakers. However he was not the first "Penn" into America. Francis Penn, aged twenty two, left London in 1632, aboard the ship "Mathew" bound for Virginia, although his later fate is not recorded. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Warin de Penne, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "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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