This interesting surname recorded in the spellings of Penney, Penny, Penning, and the patronymic Pennings, is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It is generally considered to be a nickname from the coin, itself deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "pening, penig", and the Middle English "peni" meaning penny. The penny was the common Germanic unit of value when money was still an unusual phenomenon, and by no means denoted a coin of little value, as it does today. It was the only unit of coinage in England until the early 14th Century when the groat and the gold noble were introduced. The penny was a silver coin of considerable value, and the nickname may therefore have denoted a person of some substance. There is some evidence that Pening was used in Olde English times as a byname, for example in the placename Penistone in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below). Early recordings include Ailnoth Peni (1204) in the Curia Regis Rolls of Surrey, William Peny (1221) in the Assize Court Rolls of Shropshire, and Geoffrey Penings, in the district of Clerkenwell, London, in 1305. Church registers list the christening of Henry Pynnye on the 10th September 1552 at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and Rachell Penney on the 5th November 1593 at St. Giles Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Penig, which was dated 1191, in the "Pipe Rolls of Huntingdonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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