Recorded in several spelling forms including Whinney, Winney, Winny, Winfrey, and Winfred, this is an ancient surname of pre 7th century Olde English and Welsh-Celtic origins. It derives either from the female personal name 'Wyngeofu' meaning 'battle-joy', or 'Winfridd' meaning 'friend of peace', and later angicized as the personal name 'Winifred'. Surnames from female personal names are much less numerous than surnames from male names, but they do form quite a large grouping. A female surname or metronymic usually indicates that the derivation of the original name was as a result of either the mother being widdowed before the child was born, or that she was an heiress in her own right, and wished to pass on the succession in her own name. In the case of this surname it is first recorded in the county of Suffolk in the form of Robert Wyneue. He appears in the Subsidy Tax Rolls for Suffolk in 1327, with Thomas Wyndyff being recorded in the same county in 1479. Other later recordings taken from authentic surviving rolls and church registers include: Thomas Wynnye in the lists known as the 'Musters of Norfolk' in 1577, Henry Winfree who married Diana Filback at St Leonards church, Shoreditch, London, on August 11th 1783, and Ann Winfrey, the daughter of Henry Winfrey, who was christened at the church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on March 20th 1791. Whether this is the same 'Henry' we are uncertain. Another recording showing a further and later development of the surname, is that of William Winfred, a witness at St Martins in the Field, on February 6th 1858.
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