The Irish and English surname Halfpenny is a nickname probably for a tenant whose feudal obligations included a regular payment in cash or kind (for example bread or salt) of a halfpenny. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Halpeni, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire." The name was brought to Ireland by settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries and is predominantly found in the eastern province of Leinster, particularly in counties Louth and Meath. The first reference to the name in the New World is in Virginia in 1664 when Eliza Halfpenny is recorded.

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