This very unusual surname has absolutely nothing to do with either 'pens' or the ancient occupation of being a 'wright'. It is in fact locational and by an extraordinary sequence of dialectal transposition and plain bad spelling has managed over many centuries to change itself completely. It commenced 'life' in about the year 1290 when the name holder shown below was recorded as being 'de Penreth' (of Penrith). This assumes that the lady in question had moved from Penrith (the town in Cumbria) and was somewhere else in the county, the name of her former home being given to her as identification, even though it was spelt incorrectly. Later as the surname moved to other areas, it sometimes retained its original spelling but more often was given a 'local' twist. So that in 1308 we find the recording of Edward de Penreth as a Freeman of the City of York. By the time the name reached London the spelling had effectively split, between the original 'Penrith' and the modern 'Penright' variant. The early examples of the 'midway' spellings include Robert Pennyrett, who married Elizabeth Carter at St Pauls Church, Benets Wharf, on July 27th 1635, and Mary Penritt, the daughter of William Penritt, christened at St Peters Church, Pauls Wharf, London, on October 19th 1681. The coat of arms granted in Cumberland has the blazon of a silver field, a black chevron between three bears heads erased, muzzled red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Beatrice de Penreth, which was dated 1292, in the Kings Rolls of the county of Cumberland, 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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