This unusual name is of Low German and Flemish origin, and is one of the diminutive forms of the medieval male personal name "Benedict", adopted from the Latin "Benedictus", "Blessed". The English equivalent of the diminutive form is the familiar surname "Benn", and other Low German forms are "Bente", "Benne", and "Bein(e)". The personal name Benedict and its variant forms was very popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, chiefly because of the fame of St. Benedict (circa 480 - 550), who founded the Benedictine order of monks at Monte Cassino, and wrote a monastic rule that formed a model for all subsequent rules; the Latin meaning of the name was no doubt also a reason for its popularity.The German and Flemish forms were introduced into England in the 16th and 17th Century, by immigrant workers and Huguenot refugees. One Mary Behn married Joseph Keen in London in 1681, and Francis Behn and Mary Wiglesworth were married in St. Peter's Leeds, in Yorkshire, on March 26th 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gerdrut Behne (marriage to Hans Bauer), which was dated May 13th 1576, Zeitz, Sachsen, Germany, during the reign of King Maximilian 11, "Holy Roman Emperor", 1564 - 1576. 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.
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