Recorded as Bonham, Bonhomme and even Boneham, this interesting surname is French, but is well recorded in England. It originates from the medeval phrase Bon-homme meaning a good man, and as such was given as a nickname to a kindly person, or to an individual worthy of admiration and respect, or perhaps given the robust homour of those times, the complete reverse! Occasionally it may have been of locational from a pass in the Vosges mountains called "Bonhomme". This is between the towns of Saint-Die and Colmar. The surname is first recorded in England in the13th century, and early examples include William Bonham, in the Subsidy Rolls of Essex in 1327, whilst later on October 13th 1629, Susanne, the daughter of Andre Bonhomme, was christened at the French Huguenot church, Threadneedle Street, in the city of London. Two brothers, Henri and Leonard Bonhomme, were artist glassmakers between 1639 and 1682 in Liege, Belgium. A coat of arms granted to Bonhomme family of Liege consists of a shield divided horizontally silver and gold, with a red lion in the upper half and a red saltire in base. Leopold Joseph Ignace de Bonhomme was made Baron of the French Empire on July 4th 1789. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nigel Bonhume. This was dated 1247, in the Assize Court olls of Bedfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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