What is the origin of the last name Penn?

The last name "Penn" originated as a surname in England during the medieval period. It is derived from the Old English word "penn," meaning "enclosure" or "enclosed area," and was often used to refer to a fenced or walled pasture. Over time, individuals who lived near or owned such enclosures began adopting "Penn" as their surname. Notably, the surname gained prominence in the late 17th century through the influential Quaker family of William Penn, founder of the Pennsylvania Colony in North America.

Countries of origin for the last name Penn

The last name “PENN” has several interesting facts and historical significance. The name “Penn” is of English origin and is derived from the word “pen,” meaning a hill or mound. This suggests that the original bearers of the surname may have lived near or on a hill. The prominence of hills in England and the importance of geography in determining surnames make this etymology plausible.

The surname “Penn” is most famously associated with the prominent Quaker family, the Penns of Pennsylvania. The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, was a member of this family and played a significant role in the establishment of the state and the principles of religious freedom. The surname “Penn” became synonymous with the state itself, and it remains an important part of Pennsylvania’s history and identity.

Another noteworthy figure with the last name “Penn” is the English sea captain and explorer William Penn, father of the aforementioned William Penn. Captain William Penn served in the Royal Navy and played a key role in England’s naval history. His seafaring exploits and connections to the New World add another layer of significance to the surname “Penn.”

The last name “Penn” is not as common as some other surnames, but it has spread beyond its English origins. It is found in various countries and regions around the world, including the United States, Australia, and Canada. The dispersal of the name can be attributed to migration, colonialism, and individual family movements over time.

Within the United States, the surname “Penn” is most prevalent in states such as Pennsylvania, Texas, California, and Florida. This distribution indicates that the name has followed migration patterns within the country, reflecting the movement of individuals and families across different regions.

Overall, the last name “Penn” carries both historical and geographical significance. Its association with influential figures and its connection to the founding of Pennsylvania make it a name of considerable importance. While the specific origins of individual instances of the last name may vary, the overall meaning and impact of “Penn” remain significant.

Interesting facts about the last name Penn

  • The surname Penn is of English origin and is derived from the Old English word “Penn” which means “hill” or “high ground”.
  • One prominent bearer of the surname Penn is William Penn (1644-1718), an English Quaker and founder of the English North American colony of Pennsylvania.
  • The name Penn is relatively rare, ranking as the 4,433rd most common surname in the United States according to the 2000 Census.
  • Penn is also a common place name in England, with several towns and villages named Penn, such as Penn in Buckinghamshire and Penn in Staffordshire.
  • The surname Penn has variations including Pen, Pene, Penne, Penman, and Penning.
  • According to genealogical records, Penn has been a surname in England since at least the 13th century.
  • There are several notable individuals with the surname Penn besides William Penn, such as Sean Penn, an American actor, and Michael Penn, an American singer-songwriter.
  • The surname Penn may also have Jewish origins, being derived from the Hebrew name “Pinchas” meaning “flint” or “hard rock”.
  • Some sources suggest that the surname Penn may have also originated as a nickname for someone with a pointed or prominent head.
  • There are numerous coats of arms associated with the surname Penn, reflecting different branches and lineages of the family.

Name Rank


There are around 19409 people with the last name Penn in the US

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