This rare and interesting name is of English origin and is a dialectal variant of a locational name 'Benifield' in Northumberland. The derivation of this place is from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'bera', a bear, from which the personal name 'Bera' has evolved, with the Olde English 'feld', open country, thus Bera's field. The earliest recording of this place name is circa 970 where it appears in the Saxon Chartulary as 'Beringafeld', and in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Northumberland as 'Benefeld'. During the Middle Ages when it was becoming increasingly common for people to migrate from their birth place to seek work further a-field, the custom developed of adopting their village or townland name as a means of identification. One Alfred Benfell, son of Alexander and Emma Benfell was christened on 15th September 1861, at Hounslow, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Marget Benfeld, married John Braune, which was dated 7th September 1545, St. Martin Pomeroy, London, during the reign of King Henry VIII, Good King Hal, 1509 - 1547. 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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