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BENNETT Family History
This surname, which means blessed, derives from the Latin 'Benedictus'. By medieval times it had developed into 'Benedict' as it had been made popular as a personal name chiefly thanks to St. Benedict (circa 480 - 550), the founder of the Benedictine order of monks. There were many versions of the name throughout Europe, and in England in the 12th Century the Latin form can be found alongside versions derived from the Old French forms 'Beneit' and 'Benoit', which were popular among the Normans.
As a surname it would have derived from the name of an ancestor and would therefore mean 'the son of Bennet.
Variants of the surname include Bennet, Bennette, Benett, Bennitt, McBennett, Benet, Bennetts, and Binet.
During the reign of Edward I, it was often written as 'Beneyt', as seen for example in the Hundred Rolls for Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire. Later, during the reigns of Edwards II and III, appeared variously as Fitzbenedict, Benediscite, Bendiste, Bendish, Bennett.
The surname Bennett was first found in north Lancashire where a Benedictine monastery known as Furness Abbey was founded by the Savigny monks of Normandy in 1127. Records from that century establish that Benet was a common baptismal name in the immediate neighbourhood of the Abbey, and that it later became a patronymic surname (for example, Alan son of Benet). Indeed, Bennet and Benson are still common surnames in the districts where the Benedictines established their abbeys.
In 1881, 1,881 individuals were recorded with this surname in Kent. The name was also popular in the county of Devon where there were 228 occurrences in the Plymouth area alone. In the same year, Bennett family members primarily worked as labourers, farmers and agricultural labourers.
By 1891, the population was widespread across England and Wales with 50,591 occurrences, while a further 827 entries appear on that year's census in Scotland where Bennet was a more common spelling.
- Early notables of this name include Sir Thomas Bennett, Sheriff of London in 1594 who was knighted by King James 1 in 1603.
- Mabel Bennett survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, escaping in a lifeboat. She was only ages 30 and worked aboard as an English First Class Stewardess.
- An English convict from Devon, George Bennett, was transported aboard the 'Arab' on 3 July 1822, settling in Van Diemen’s Land, Australia.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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