Recorded in the spellings of Wimpenny, Whimpenny and even Winpenny, this intriguing surname is English. Quite popular in the county of Yorkshire, it was originally a medieval nickname for a person who was eager to acquire material possessions. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "winnan", meaning to gain, and "pening", a 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 such sources. These referred to personal and moral characteristics, as well as physical attributes or abnormalities. More often than not, and given the robust humour of the Chaucerian period, the person concerned represented the total reverse of the apparent meaning! This surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), with William Wynpenny of Ripon, Yorkshire, appearing in the Poll Tax rolls for 1379. It is said that this family moved some fifty miles to Huddersfield in the late 16th Century, where as Wimpenny the name is popular in that area, William Wimpenny being christened on July 25th 1600, at Almondbury church, near Huddersfield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Winepeni, which was dated 1219, in the rolls of the Merchants Guild of Shrewsbury. This was during the reign of King Henry 111, 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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