Penfold Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Penfold Surname Meaning

The Penfold surname derived from the old English word pundfald, meaning a pound or walled enclosure where stray animals were kept. It would either be an occupational name for someone in charge of such as pound or would describe someone who lived near one.

Penfold Surname Resources on The Internet

Penfold Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Sussex)
  • to America, Australia and New Zealand

England. The Penfold name is very much a name from Sussex on the south coast of England, and primarily from west Sussex.

Sussex. Philip de la Pundfold appeared in the Hundred Rolls as a landowner in Sussex in 1275. Further early recordings included Thomas ate Pundfolde in 1296 and John Pennefold in 1332.

Many lines of descent have come from the Penfold family that were landowners in the parish of Angmering from around 1550 to 1800. These Penfolds may have originated from the village of Shipley near Storrington in the 1400’s with the spelling of Penfould.

Later Penfolds were to be found:

  • in Chichester where Stephen Penfold was mayor of the town in 1669 and again in 1677.
  • in Broadwater near Worthing from the late 1600’s.
  • and then in Steyning where the family became quite prominent. Richard Penfold was the Surgeon and Apothecary of Steyning in the 1750’s and the Rev. John Penfold the vicar of Steyning from 1792 to 1840. His son Christopher emigrated to Australia in 1844.

The Penfold name was also evident in Petworth, Arundel and the village of Hartfield. A Penfold family started the Tortington iron works near Arundel in 1833. In 1909 James Penfold broke away and began his own business servicing farm machinery at Barnham nearby.

Penfold has remained a Sussex name. By the time of the 1881 census the name had spread to other places in SE England – most notably to Surrey and London – but not much further.

Elsewhere. Francis Penfold moved from Petworth to Haslemere in Surrey in 1650 and established the family home, Penfolds, there. J.W. Penfold, born in 1828, was the designer of the ubiquitous British pillar box.

There was a gypsy family of Penfolds, starting with William Penfold who married Mary Collins in Kent in 1805. These Penfolds wandered and they and later Penfolds could be found in Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire in the first half of the 19th century.

From the Penfold line in Steyning came the Rev. William Penfold who became vicar of Ruardean in the Forest of Dean. His son John was an eminent Anglican priest on the Channel Island of Guernsey in the early 1900’s.

The birthplace of Albert E. Penfold is unclear, but was likely to have been in London where he began work as an apprentice in the early 1900’s. He founded his company, Penfold Golf, in Birmingham in 1927 and the golf balls made there became famous.

America. William and Priscilla Penfold left Sussex for Lockport in upstate New York in the 1850’s and later moved to Buffalo. Their son William became a self-taught portrait painter there. His son Frank, formally trained, was to be the better-known artist for his landscape and portrait paintings.

Australia. William Friend Penfold was a farmer from Goudhurst in Kent who came with his family on the John to South Australia in 1840. They settled in Gawler where William opened the Plough and Harrow hotel in 1856. Sadly his son Thomas died after eating poisoned dog meat in 1864.

Four years later in 1844, Christopher and Mary Penfold arrived in South Australia from Steyning in Sussex and immediately started a winery based on the French vine cuttings that they had brought with them. Christopher’s main purpose was to produce fortified wines for medicinal purposes. But after Christopher’s death in 1870, Mary steered the production towards commercial wines and Penfold’s Winery became firmly established.

New Zealand. Stephen Penfold and his family from Godalming in Surrey came to Wellington on the Birman in 1842 and later settled in New Plymouth. After Stephen died in 1851, the family moved south to Wanganui.

Penfold Surname Miscellany

The Penfold Family in Angmering.  The first known Penfold living in Angmering appears to have been Richard Penfold, a butcher, born around 1545. It is known that many of them farmed in the Ecclesden area and also at Avenals. Others held or occupied land in the village itself.

Many acquired the status of yeoman farmers and married into other farming families in the same social strata. As time went on and the family multiplied, it was not possible for farming to sustain them all and the social status of some of them declined towards mercers, victuallers, carpenters and agricultural laborers, although some Penfolds in these trades quite clearly possessed money or land.

As their status required, Penfolds also contributed to the administration of the village and at some time held office as churchwarden, village constable, and probate inventory appraisers.

James Penfold was the first recorded owner of The Lamb inn in Angmering in 1780.  His name has been preserved in the James Penfold room suite at the inn.

But by the mid-19th century there were few Penfolds remaining in Angmering.

Penfolds in the 1881 Census

County Number Percent
Sussex    697    27
Surrey    658    26
London    452    18
Kent    451    18
Elsewhere    284    11
Total   2,542   100

J.W. Penfold, Designer of the Pillar Box.  John Wornham Penfold was born in Haslemere, Surrey in 1828.  He studied architecture and surveying and rose to the top of his profession.  He served as President of the Architectural Association and became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In 1866 Penfold submitted designs for a pillar box. The Post Office had been attempting to standardize letter boxes throughout the country for some time.  With Penfold’s box the Post Office sought to establish an enduring national standard.

Penfold’s box – or the Penfold as it became known – combined simple design with functionality. Hexagonal in shape, it was adorned with acanthus leaves and balls, a far less ornate design than some of the elaborate decorative boxes that had gone before it.

Many of the features initiated with the Penfold boxes remain in use. Penfolds were produced in different size to accommodate different volumes of mail, as pillar boxes still are to this day. Penfolds were also the first boxes to be manufactured in the new standard colour of red in 1874.

Throughout his life Penfold regularly returned to his native Haslemere. He surveyed the local area when the railways came, rebuilt and expanded Haslemere parish church and surrounds, and designed other local buildings.  But Penfold is best remembered for his work for the Post Office.

Penfolds Winery.  Penfolds is an Australian wine producer that was founded in Adelaide in 1844 by Christopher Rawson Penfold, an English physician who had emigrated to Australia, and his wife Mary.  They were at the time aged 33 and 24 respectively.

Following their arrival, they were supported by family members in securing the 500 acre Magill estate at the foot of the Mont Lofty ranges. As part of the cultivation of the land surrounding the cottage that the couple built (named The Grange), French grape vine cuttings brought from England were planted. Christopher was a believer in the medicinal benefits of wine.  Both he and Mary planned to concoct a wine tonic for the treatment of anaemia. Christopher had set up his practice on the eastern outskirts of Adelaide.

Initially the Penfolds produced fortified wines in the style of sherry and port for Christopher’s patients.  Later the Penfolds discovered that clarets and rieslings were both easy to produce and popular.

Mary assumed the running of the winery after her husband died in 1870. During her tenure, Mary engaged in experimentation, explored new methods of wine production, looked into ways of combating diseases like phylloxera and engaged a cellar master by the name of Joseph Gillard.  Mary retired in 1884, aged 68.  At that time the winery owned about a third of all of South Australia’s wine stores and had presented at a colonial exhibition in London.

The Penfold family continued to operate the business very successfully following Mary’s death in 1896. After the company became public in 1962, the Penfold family retained a controlling interest until 1976. Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest wineries and is currently part of Treasury Wine Estates.

Albert Penfold and His Golf Balls.  Albert E. Penfold had been an apprentice in the early 1900’s at the Silvertown Company in London which had begun to experiment with the manufacture of golf balls.  Albert quickly put his own touch on these designs, getting a patent on his ‘mesh’ pattern and ‘lattice’ designs in 1912.  He assigned the ‘mesh’ pattern to the Silvertown Company, but retained the rights to the ‘lattice’ design.  This importantly would prove integral later to the birth of his Penfold brand.

In 1919 he joined Dunlop where he designed their Maxifli golf ball and then left them in 1927 to form his own company, Golf Ball Developments, in Birmingham.  His golf balls proved an immediate success.

“The first test of the Penfold production was held on a Sunday prior to a British Open Championship on a course near St. Andrews.  When the selected driver hit the first Penfold designed ball it carried far beyond the furthermost markers.  Other Penfold balls gave identical results.”

Manufacture of Penfold golf balls in America began in the 1930’s.  Albert himself died in the 1940’s when returning to England from America on a freighter which was sunk in the Irish Sea by Nazi planes.

Nevertheless Penfold Golf became world famous for its one and two-piece golf balls.  In the 1960s many of the great professional golfers played Penfold.

Penfold Names

  • Christopher and Mary Penfold started the Penfolds winery in South Australia in 1844.
  • J.W. Penfold designed the pillar box for the British Post Office in 1866.
  • Albert E. Penfold founded Penfold Golf, the maker of golf balls, in Britain in 1927.

Penfold Numbers Today

  • 5,500 in the UK (most numerous in Sussex)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Penfold and Like Surnames

Some surnames have come from SE England, in particular the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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