This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval origin, and is a locational surname from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. Enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures in the 14th Century, with the growth of the wool trade, was a prime factor in these "disappearances", along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348. The place is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Benna, of uncertain origin, plus "ey" meaning "a piece of land surrounded by streams" or "an island", plus "worth" "settlement" or "enclosure". The surname date's back to the early 17th Century, (see below). Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Bennyworth, Benniworth, Benneworth, etc. Ann Benniworth married Thomas Smalley at St. James, Westminster on December 23rd 1762, and Ann Benneyworth married Thomas Tully on May 15th 1779, at St. Anne Soho, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Beniworth married Maria Strong, which was dated 1633, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London, during the reign of King Charles 1, "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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