Recorded in many spellings including Pena, Pina, Pinilla, Pennetta, and Pennazzi, this is a surname of Roman (Latin) origins, and recorded in many parts of Southern Europe. The derivation is from the word 'penna', from the pre-Christian period, and this decribes either a prominent rock, or in most cases, a fortress or battlements. The Roman Empire spread through Europe for over one thousand years, and their influence on most European languages remains as the basis of the modern spellings. The surname was probably locational, but in some cases at least, it may have been occupational for one whose job was the manning or maintenance of the 'penna'. Because of the many spellings of the surname it has been necessary to restrict examples of the recording. These include Nicolleta Penna, christened at Potenz, Italy, on June 11th 1613, Nicolosa de la Pena on March 5th 1713 at Santa Ana, Mexico, Luiza Penazzi at San Benedetto, Mantova, Italy, on February 6th 1755, and Luis Pena on February 3rd 1785 at Mission Buenaventura, California. Maria Mavilla Pina married Jose Raphael at San Jose Nuestra, Mexico, on Sepember 23rd 1802, whilst Dora Pena married John Parry Rowlands at El Dorado, California, on April 6th 1920. The coat of arms granted in Spain has the distinctive blazon of a blue field, charged with a gold five pointed star. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Matheo de la Pena, which was dated October 9th 1577, at Nuestra Senora, Valladolid, Spain, during the reign of King Phillip 11 of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1556 - 1598. 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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