Recorded in several forms including Tenpenny, Twinpenny, Townpenny and Tunpenny, this very unusual surname is probably English, but perhaps of French origins. It would seem to be locational and possibly from the town of Tupigny in Flanders. It is said that the relatively popular surname Twopenny originates from this source, and if so it is quite possible that Tenpenny is a transposition of Twopenny. However it is also just possible that the current surname does originate from a coin, in which case it would have to be from the old two pence, as no ten pence coin existed before 1971. As to why a person should be called either Twopenny or Tenpenny after a coin is certainly open to conjecture. Most of the dictionaries of surnames avoid making any reference to either name, from which one must conclude that either they do not know the meaning, or that the origin is obscene. As it is hardly likely to be the latter, our opinion is that it was a medieval nickname of endearment. Early examples of the surname recording include Henry Twopenny in the register of pupils at Cambridge University in 1586, Richard Tunpenny, a witness at St Sepulchre church in the city of London, on February 26th 1726, and Ann Tenpenny, who married James Abraham at St Giles Cripplegate, also in the city of London, on November 21st 1792.
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