This ancient surname is first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as shown below, although it can be stated categorically that the original holder would not have recognised it as a surname himself. Surnames as we know them today are, in most cases, a 13th century introduction, and so we believe that the first recording is probably a nickname which translates loosely as "Leuuinus the plump one"! Before the 13th century the baptismal name "Benne" was a development of the Olde English "Beonna" and whilst to be described as "the plump one" in 20th century terms may be described as derogatory, this was not so in earlier times. A certain amount of "plumpness" was highly regarded as shown by the manner in which "Friar Tuck" is treated by Robin Hood and his men, in the 12th century, or indeed the later Reubens. So the name was baptismal, a "plump" baby being regarded as a healthy baby, and hence named as such. The Normans after 1066 introduced their version of Benne, however this is a short or nickname version of St Benedictus. Given the timing and the Norman "politics" it is probable that the majority of todays name holders have a Norman background, but this is conjecture. The early recordings include Siuard Benne of Lincoln in 1190, and Thomas Ben of Worcester in 1275. Thomas Bennes was registered in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327, and this origin is almost certainly Norman. Peter Benn was the Rector of Caistor, Norfolk in 1430, and on July 1st 1634, Elizabeth Benn married Anthony Beomont at the church of St Thomas the Apostle, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Leuuinus Benne, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Suffolk, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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