This interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a variant of "Benn", a Yorkshire surname which derives from the Middle English personal name "Benne", in part a short form of "Benedict" from the Latin "Benedictus", meaning "Blessed", and in part a form of the Old Norse personal name "Bjorn", bearcub, warrior. Ben(n)ey is a diminutive from this source, which is found in Devon and Cornwall. The surname is also found as "Bennie" in Scotland, where it is a locational name from Bennie, on the east side of the knock above the village of Braco in Logie-Almond parish. Hugh filius Hugonis de Benne witnessed a charter by Vmfridus de Berkelay to the Abbey of Arbroath circa 1204, while James Beny was prebendary of Crudane in 1321, recorded in the Episcopal Register of Aberdeen. Johannes Benny was christened on May 12th 1576, at Widecombe in the Moor, Devonshire, while Richard, son of Richard and Elizabeth Beney was christened on July 4th 1783, at Modbury, Devonshire. A Coat of Arms depicting a black bend between a red cinquefoil in chief, and a blue sword in pale, with a gold blade, was granted to a Benny, Bennie family in Scotland. Their motto was "Virtute et opere", (By Virtue and Energy). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de Benne, which was dated circa 1201, a charter witness, in the "Register of the Abbey of Aberbrothoc", during the reign of King William the Lion, Ruler of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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