Thursday, 2 September 2010

A Steyning/Stenning Coincidence?

We are currently helping with queries on a number of different families. However, within two weeks of each other, we have received two separate emails asking for information about the same family name – a great coincidence, since neither knew of the other’s existence. This has led to a further flurry of emails between family members, sharing information and new leads. The family name is Stenning or Stening and we do have a family tree that turns out to be the tree of at least one of these enquirers. We are still trying to establish a definite link for the other family.

An intriguing question was posed by both of these contacts. This was whether Stenning could be a corruption or variation of the Steyning place name and whether it orginated here.

Our family historian did some research to see if we could answer this question. Her findings are quite unexpected. The earliest references she could find to the surname Steyning in England, were nowhere near Steyning in Sussex and had no connection with our town.

The names Stenning, and indeed Stanning, do seem to have their origins in the original surname of Steyning, which is first found in Devon, in the early 1400s. There were no Steynings listed in Steyning, or anywhere in Sussex for another 200 years. By the time the name reached West Sussex, it had become Stanning or Stenning.

Although this seems to have answered the question, do let us know if you can add anything!


  1. Hi
    I am looking for any leads for records of Stennings in West Sussex for a book (principally about changes to the Sussex landscape). I am the granddaughter of Joan Stenning, of Goring-by-sea, who has traced relatives, via Brighton, to Bolney, Twineham and Rottingdean. I wonder if you could put me in touch with anyone who may have overlaps - I wonder if my grandmother has been in contact with the two people who emailed you. My email is
    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Hello Anna.
    Since I posted this item, there have been two more equiries about the same name ... and now yours! I will respond to you by email as I think this might be more helpful for you.
    All the best,