This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, with variant spellings Benyell, Bennall, Benell, and Bennell, is a locational name being a dialectal variant of Banwell in Somerset, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Ban(n)a", a byname meaning "felon", plus "well(a)", stream; hence, "Bana's stream or felon stream", or from Benwell, a township in the parish of St. John, Newcastle on Tyne, Yorkshire. The surname dates back to the mid 16th Century (see below). Recordings from London Church Registers include the christening of Jone, daughter of John Bennell, on September 9th 1590, at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, and the christening of Anne, daughter of Christopher Benyell, on November 30th 1595, at St. Margaret's, Westminster. One Bridget Bennell, aged 17 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool bound for New York aboard the "Devonshire" on November 6th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Water Bennell, which was dated 1561, christened at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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