This very unusual surname, recorded in Church Registers of southern England from the early 17th Century under the variant spellings Benjafield, Benjefield and Bengefield, is believed to be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place called Bengefield or Benjefield. The initial element of the placename is most likely the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Beonna", also found in Bengeworth, a parish near Worcester in Worcestershire, with the Olde English "feld", grove, glade, land free from wood. The prime cause of village "disappearance" was the enforced clearing of rural settlements, and the consequent dispersal of the inhabitants, to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 14th Century on, along with natural causes, such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. On March 13th 1674, Richard Benjefield and Martha Curtice were married at All Hallows, London Wall, and on June 14th 1691, Benjamen, son of Richard Benjafield, was christened at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. The marriage of Nath Benjafield to Elizabeth Ansty took place at Tarrant Hinton, Dorset, on December 25th 1777, and on February 26th 1805, George Benjafield or Bengefield married Dianah Sims at Stalbridge, Dorset. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Benjafield, which was dated July 16th 1629, christened at Wincanton, Somerset, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as "The Martyr", 1625 - 1649. 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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