Recorded in a number of spellings as shown below, this interesting surname found chiefly in England and Scotland, is arguably of French origins. Probably introduced by the Norman French at the famous Conquest of England in 1066, it derives from the word "bon", meaning good and was a medieval nickname for a handsome person. The surname spelling is from the Northern and Scottish dialect word "bonnie," a diminutive of bon, and having the local meaning of "fine or beautiful". It is said that today the surname is found chiefly in Lancashire and Yorkshire where the varied spellings are sais to include Bonny, Bonnie, Bonnet, Bonett, Bonnett, Bonnin, Bonnyson, Bunnett, and possibly others. Examples of recordings include Agnes Bonny and Johannes Bunnay both in the Poll Tax Returns for Yorkshire in 1379, Alice Bonnet who was christened on June 26th 1548, at Kirkham, Lancashire, whilst Noye Bonney, was christened on December 29th 1590, at St. Ann's Blackfriars, city of London. Winey Bonnet, aged 20, a famine emigrant, sailed from Dublin aboard the ship Fagan - Bealac bound for New York on May 17th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agne Bonye. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England and known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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