This is a very unusual English surname. Recorded as Thickpenny, Thickpeny, Thickpenney, and probably others, its origin has defied researchers for over four hundred years. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880, confessed that he could not find a satisfactory explanation, and a hundred and twenty years on, and with all the resources of modern research, the position has not greatly changed. The surname is reasonably well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London from at least Elizabethan times, but they do not provide any clues as to how the name came about. The first known recording of the surname is believed to be that of the Rev. Leonard Thickpenny, a minister of Enfield in Middlesex, probably St Andrews. In the year 1590 it is said, he was buried secretly at night at St Peters Cornhill, in a 'coffen' with an opening flap! The secrecy of this burial only adds to the romance of the surname. Our research suggests that the name is almost certainly a transposition or fusing of either another surname, as 1590 is several centuriues after the intial creation of surnames, or of a place name such as Thicket Priory near York. However this is pure conjecture, as is often the case with surnames with no remotely obvious meaning or origin.
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