This interesting surname is of medieval French origin, and derives from the Old French male given name "Bienvenu", translating as "apposite, well-chosen", the feminine form of the name being "Bienvenue". Surnames derived from given names are the oldest and most pervasive surname type, and because European society has almost invariably been patriarchal throughout history, the father's personal name (rather than that of the mother) has been handed on as a distinguishing epithet to successive generations. Recordings of the surname from French Church Registers include: Jean Bienvenu, christening witness at Rumigny, Ardennes, on January 25th 1607, and Etienne Bienvenu, who married Laurence Gasnault at St. Augustin, Angers, Maine-et-Loire, on January 29th 1641. Four christenings of children born to Pierre and Elizabeth Bienvenu were recorded in French Huguenot London churches during the years 1719 to 1727, indicating that the name was in part, introduced into England by French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious persecution in their own country following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis X1V in 1685. The first christening recorded is that of Elizabeth Bienvenu at Glasshouse Street and Leicester Fields French Huguenot Church on July 26th 1719. A Coat of Arms granted to the Bienvenu family of France is recorded heraldically in Rietstap's "Armorial General", and depicts a silver saltire engrailed between four golden horseshoes on an azure shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicolas Bienvenu, which was dated August 3rd 1604, marriage to Jeanne Caureau, at Notre Dame de L'Esvieres, Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France, during the reign of King Henry 1V of the House of Bourbon, 1589 - 1610. 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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