Recorded in several forms including: Teeny, Teeney, Tenney, and Tenny, this unusual surname is medieval English, but of Ancient Greek origins. Introduced by returning Crusaders from the Holy Land in the 12th century as Dennis, it derives from the Greek "Dionysios", meaning the divine one of Nysa. Nysa was a mountain in Afghanistan, where the all conquering army of Alexander the Great rested, as he planned other conquests. The name as Den(n)is was borne by various early Christian saints including St. Denis, the 3rd Century bishop of Paris, who became the patron saint of France. The form commencing with "T" results from the sharpening of the initial "D" and this change is noted in various early placename recordings such as Tadworth in the county of Surrey, which appears as Daeddewurthe in 1062, and as Taddewurth in 1242, and in the town of Tidenham in Gloucestershire, formerly recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of 956 a.d. as Dyddanham. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include: the birth of Francis Tenney at Brigham, in Yorkshire in 1556, and Elizabeth Teeney, who married William Taggart at St George's church, Mayfair, Westminster, on June 4th 1730. The name was taken to America in 1638 by Thomas Tenney, a member of a party led by the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers from Rowley, Yorkshire, and most modern American families of this name are descended from him. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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