Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
According to P.R. Reaney and R. Wilson, Dictionary of English Names (1968), the name Penner derives from "ME pennen or Old English, pyndar". A pyndar therefore could pincer, pen up; he could have been an officer on a large estate or manor whose responsibility it was to impound stray beasts or straying cattle, one who impounds (like a dogcatcher, or a shepherd). There was once a William of Pendere in the parliamentary writs who was a descendant of a pincer. In the story of Robin Hood there is the "jolly pincer" of Wakefield.
An old, large English Dictionary that includes family names, indicates that
Penner is an English farming (occupational) name of long-standing, as in
"one who lives near a pen", perhaps even a pigpen, or who delivers animals
to a pen, and meaning, more significantly for me, "one who writes with a
In German sources such as in Deutsche Namenkunde by Gottschald, the name Penner, Penna (in Low German, Panna), is an Ortsname (place name) from Leipzig, Germany; other suggestions: Pennerdoerfer, and Pfaenner. This last suggestion corresponds to Professor Durstling's idea at Mount Allison University, many years ago, which is corroborated in Der Deutsche-Brockhaus: a Pfaenner is a Kesselschmied (a maker of Pfaenchen, that is pots and pans, ein Pfannemacher), and is related to Pfannkuchen; in Low German, een Pannamocha ("Panna" became the Low German for Penner.)
© 2007 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta