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Our 2,744 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

The Wimpenny One-Name study became the natural progression from an attempt to trace the history of the family Building and Contracting Company of which my Father was a Director, started in 1971. This was swiftly followed by the obsession to trace all my ancestors; I had caught €œthe genealogy bug€. Before the advent of the internet and everyday use of computers many hundreds of hours were spent in County Archives, Local History and LDS libraries, recording Wimpenny (and variants) data and setting up a card index system at home which is now enormous and still in use to this day. Part of the 18th century and most of the 19th-20th century data is now digitised on computer; but there still is a way to go with the early stuff.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are WINPENNY and WHIMPENNY, WHINPENNY and WIMPNEY. In addition to these are over fifty deviations and miss-spellings which can cause difficulties when researching records. Our research has shown that individuals have been recorded with differently spelled names on different official documents and it is proving almost impossible to trace them by surname spelling alone. I have had to use some licence when recording these miss-spelt names. Another variant is the surname PENNY. While I have much data on this name, especially 17th-18th Century Huddersfield, it has not been extensively researched and is not recorded in any digitised form and therefore cannot be easily shared.

Name origin

The origin of this intriguing surname is English. Mostly found in the county of Yorkshire, it was originally a medieval nickname for a person who was eager to acquire money and 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, referring to personal and moral characteristics as well as abodes. This surname is recorded in the early 14th Century, with William Wynpenny of Ripon, Yorkshire, appearing in the Poll Tax rolls for 1379 and frequently appears in the Chapter Books 1450-1500 in Ripon. Another early reference shows a Willelmus Wynpeny, Tapitar (or Tapster/ Bartender) Freeman of York in 1425. Many Wimpenny deeds exist at the Yorkshire Archives (Wakefield), including numerous Wympenny’s of Stanley in the 15th Century; from where it is likely that a further migration took place to Huddersfield early in the 16th Century; e.g. Probate 1534 granted at Pontefract to Isabel wife of Henry Wynpenny of Huddersfield. An earlier recorded spelling of a similar family name is shown to be that of Richard Winepeni, which was dated 1219, in the rolls of the Merchants Guild of Shrewsbury; four years after King John signed the Magna Carta.

Distribution of the name

The 1841 & 1851 census show approximately 360 persons of the Wimpenny variant names. By 1891 this had increased to 525 and by 1911 to 760. In 1841; 75% lived in Yorkshire, 18% in Lancashire and Cheshire with the remainder split between the North-east and London areas. Movement away from these areas was quite slow throughout the remainder of the 19th Century. By 1911: 64% lived in Yorkshire, 24% in Lancashire and Cheshire, 5% in Co. Durham and the North East, and 4% in the South and South East. So we can confirm that most were happy with their existence "Up North"€™.


Data has mainly been recorded using Family Tree Maker in the form of €œfamily lines€, some originals of which have been merged where proven links have been established to form very large lines spreading over three to four centuries. Periodically a simple Excel spreadsheet €œNames Index€ is prepared which gives reference to ALL names on these FTM files showing birth dates, marriage & death dates and spouse names (where known). Each person has a unique reference for easy identification of their €œfamily line.
Data available, with easy computer access, is as follows:-
Family Tree Maker (v 2005 and later)€“ - Family Lines are available for individuals identified via the Excel Names Index€
BMD Indexes -€“ Some blocks of years are tabulated in Excel format, but the exercise is still on-going.
Census 1841 to€“ 1911 data - €“ data already collected is linked to individuals in the FTM records
Wills and Probate Indexes -€“ Indexes currently under construction in Excel format but many copies of Wills are available some of which have been transcribed.
Copies of BMD Certification - data already collected is available as digitised images.