This famous surname is locational, deriving from a now 'lost' medieval site in the county of Sussex. This is believed to be the modern village of Penhurst, recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Penehest and in the 1197 Pipe Rolls as Penherste. The name originates from the Olde English 'hyrst' (wood) and 'pen' - a hill, although the famous etymologist the late Professor Eilert Ekwall, has suggested that the first element could be a personal name such as 'Paegna', as in the town name of Paignton. This seems unlikely when in every other case of a place name begining with 'Pen' it is accepted that this means 'hill'. Eitherway the name has a long and honourable existence in Sussex, being well recorded there from the begining of church records in the mid 16th century. A coat of arms was granted to the Pankhurst or Penckhursts of Mayfield, Sussex, before the 17th century, being a silver field, charged with an ermine fess between six billets in black. This suggests that the family were closed associated with the famous Sussex ironworks, Sussex being the early centre of the foundry industry, and this is represented by the billets. Early examples of church recordings include those of Mahetable (?) Pankhurst, the daughter of Thomas Pankhurst, christened at Arundel, on October 10th 1663, and Mary Pankehurst, who married John Howell at Falmer, Sussex, on May 5th 1664. Amongst the early recordings of colonists in 'New England', is that of 'Anns Pancrust', who 'imbarqued in the Abigail de London' on June 15th 1635 bound for 'Virginea'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jone Pankerst, which was dated October 24th 1559, married Phylyp Butcher, at Ticehurst, Sussex, during the reign of Queen Elizabth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.