This most interesting and unusual surname is of Italian origin, and is a variant form of a compound name composed of the Italian words "buono, bono", good and "vita" life, or "via", way, life; hence it was probably a nickname given to someone who enjoyed the "good life" or great prosperity. It is cognate with the French surname "Bonnevie" which has the same meaning, deriving from the Old French elements "bonne", good and "vi(th)e", life, and with the Portuguese surname "Boavida". The name was also bestowed as a personal name on an infant for the sake of a good omen.The surname is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress and occupation. Felicita, daughter of Gioanni Antonio and Francesca Bonavia, was born in 1815 at Treiso, Cuneo in Italy and she married Giuseppe Capelli, also at Treiso, on November 21st 1843. Inocente Bonavia married Josefina Bosch on June 3rd 1852 at Montpeller-De-Medillan, Charente-Maritime in France. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elias Bonavie, which was dated March 17th 1616, a christening witness at St. Botolph Bishopsgate, London, during the reign of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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