Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is a surname of ultimately French origins. Introduced into England after the famous Conquest of 1066, however spelt it was a medieval nickname for a handsome man. It is a diminutive of the French word "bon" meaning good or attractive. It is said that the surname was originally found chiefly in Lancashire, although if that was the case, in its varied spellings it is now recorded in most areas of the British Isles. These modern forms include Bonnet, Bonnett, Bonette, Bonnin, Bonnie, Bonney, Bonny, Bunnett, and probably others. The surname is ancient as shown by the first recording below, and other early recordings include Agnes Bonny and Johannes Bunnay both in the poll tax registers for the county of Yorkshire in 1379. Church recordings include Alice Bonnie who was christened on June 26th 1548, at Kirkham, Lancashire, Richard Bony who was christened on October 20th 1567, at St. Mary Whitechapel, London, and Elizabeth, daughter of Noye Bonnet, christened on December 29th 1590, at St. Ann's, Blackfriars, London. Winey Bonny, aged 20, was an Irish amine emigrant, who 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 landowners of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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