The surname of DENNEHY was a baptismal name 'the son of Dennis'. A leading family of this name (which is cognate with Dennis) came from England in the sixteenth century and became prominent in County Derry. It has been used in Kerry for Dennehy. A family of this name is found in County Cumberland and the Furness district of North Lancashire. Early records of the name mention Johannes Deny who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John of Deny was granted a safe conduct into England from Scotland in the year of 1424. Peter Denny, 1821-1895, was famed as builder of iron steam ships. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. This name was borne by various early saints, including St.Denis, the martyred 3rd century bishop of Paris who became the patron of France; the popularity of the name in England from the 12th century onwards seems to have been largely due to French influence. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The name was in Scoland at an early date where is was a habitation name from a town in the former county of Stirling.
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