This unusual and interesting name, found mainly in the northern counties of England, is one of the patronymic forms of the surname 'Tenney', which was developed from a medieval given name, itself a diminutive form of the male personal name 'Den(n)is'. This was a popular name in England from the 12th Century on, and derives from the Greek 'Dionysios', follower of Dionysos, the originally Eastern god adopted into classical theology. The name was borne by various early saints, including the 3rd Century bishop of Paris, the martyred St. Denis, who became the patron saint of France. A number of surnames were generated from the given name, among them the diminutive forms Denney and Tenney, and patronymics Den(n)ison, Tennyson, Tennison, Tenneson, Tinnison and Tinson. One Stephen Tennison was christened at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, in London, on the June 14th 1633, and the marriage of John Tennison and Katherine Taylor was recorded at St. Katherine's by the Tower, London, on January 2nd 1694. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Tenison, which was dated 1361, The Yorkshire Coroner's Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 111, 'The Father of the Navy', 1327-1377. 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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