This famous surname, one of the earliest recorded in history, and recorded in over two hundred spellings from Benedicte, Benech, Bennis and Bennet, to Banish, Beinosovitch and Vedyasov, derives from the Roman personal name "Benedictus", meaning blessed. The name owed its original popularity to St. Benedict (circa 480 - 550), who founded the Benedictine order of monks at Monte Cassino in Italy, and wrote the monastic rules that formed a model for all subsequent orders. The name was originally given only to members of the church, and particularly those in monastic orders.It became popular as a personal name for all members of society only after the famous Crusades to the Holy Land in the 12th century when it became the practice for returning soldiers or pilgrims to call their children after saints or prominent members of the early church. These personal names became surnames over the next two centuries, the first surnames being recorded in England, those on the continent generally being rather later. The French variants "Beneit or Benoit" being short forms of Benedictus, were the most usual spellings. Amongst the early examples of the surname recording are those of Robert Benyt of Yorkshire, England, in 1327, and Hainrich Benedicte of St Blazien, Germany, in the year 1330. Amongst the early settlers to the New England colonies of America was Edward Bennett of Wariscovack, Virgina. He was a major landowner, and is known to have employed at least twelve servants. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of William Benet, which was dated 1208, in the rolls of the city of Durham, England. This was during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216.
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