A number of spelling variations of the surname Pinney exist and show up in research20. The story behind these varied spellings seems to lie back in a time long since past in England. The Norman influence in England as of 1066 supposedly affected the spelling of names through both the influx of cultures and the changes inherent in the development of a new kingdom and its language25.

        Some of the spellings listed here may be simply acute communication and recording errors, while some may be a long evolution of spelling through different means of communication and education.. I don't know that there exists any proof that these are all truly variations on the same spoken surname, but perhaps the answer is waiting to be discovered. Personal inclinations lead me to separate out most of the spellings of the name that begin with Pe and set them aside, claiming that the names Penny and Penney diverged early on or possibly have a unique origin from that of Pinney. The reasoning behind this is somewhat obscure and there appear to be many contradictions to this, in that many misspellings seem to have been recorded in the United States and Canada even in times since the settlement of the continent. There are also families that have three different spellings recorded for each of three subsequent generations (ie. Pinhay, Penny, Pinney).

        The Pinneys that have been researched back to the 14th and 15th century seem to have spelled the name Pynne24or Pinhay. A common word that brings to mind a similarity to Pinney is penny, the famous coins. In reading the entry for the word penny in the Oxford English Dictionary, the spelling of the word in the 14th and 15th centuries was not at all similar to the spelling of the surname Pynne or Pinhay. The word pine has been spelled pyne at times and may have some recognizable relationship to Pynne and Pinney. This is inconclusive, but when pynne is searched for in the Oxford English Dictionary the only close entry is a reference to pynn- which redirects the reader to the spelling pin-. This listing indicates that words spelled with pynn- at the beginning indicate words that are effectively spelled with pin- today26. The spelling of the word pin during the 14th and 15th century in England was pynne. The Old Norse spelling of the word pin was pinni and the Norwegian and Swedish spelling of pin during the 14th century was pinne. The spelling of Pinney for the surname did not appear until around the 1600s25. Considering again the Norman influence on Anglo-Saxon culture, these spellings are of interest.

        Recognizing that this information has been assembled from a variety of resources and has been combined with personal observation and ideas it is clearly imperfect, but hopefully the data is helpful in understanding the variety of spellings that appear in history for a single surname.


Peeny Peney Penhay
Penhey Pennee Penney
Pennie Penny Pennye
Peny Penye Phinney
Phynny Phyny Piney
Pinhay Pinhey Pinne
Pinnie Pinney Pinnoy
Pinny Ponny Punney
Pynhay Pynne Pynney
Pynny Pynnye Pyny





Copyright © 1999-2005, Keith Pinney. All Rights Reserved. research at pinneyfamily dot org