This intriguing surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a nickname for an acquisitive person, one who is eager to acquire material possessions, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "winnan", to conquer, defeat (Middle English "winn(en)", to gain), and "peni(n)g", penny; hence, "to gain a penny". The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern- day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and mental or moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. The surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), while a family called Wimpenny is recorded in Ripon, Yorkshire, in 1379. They moved to Huddersfield in the late 16th Century, probably as a result of the decline in the wool trade in Ripon, and the name is now mainly confined to Huddersfield. William Wynpeny appears in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire in 1379, and John Winpenny is recorded in the Protestation Returns for Devon, in 1642. William Wimpenny was christened on July 25th 1600, at Almondbury in Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Winepeni, which was dated 1219, in the "Early Rolls of the Merchants' Guild of Shrewsbury", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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