Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is a surname of 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. These modern forms include Bonet, Bonnet, Bonnett, Bonette, Bonneton, Bonnetain (France), and Bonnet, Bonnett, Bonnin, Bonnie, Bonney, Bonny, Bunnett, and probably others, in the British Isles. The surname is very early in England as shown by the first recording below, and other early examples include Agnes Bonny and Johannes Bunnay both in the poll tax registers for the county of Yorkshire in 1379. Recordings in France are generally much more recent as most early registers were burnt during the Revolution of 1792, as instruments of the secret police! Early church recordings both from Britain and France include Alice Bonnie who was christened on June 26th 1548, at Kirkham, Lancashire, Elizabeth Bonnet, christened on December 29th 1590, at St. Ann's Blackfriars, London, whilst in France Piere Bonnet married Juliette Monier at Montellier in the department of Drome, on April 28th 1613, and Phillipe Theodore Bonnette was a baptism witness at Cintray, in the department of Eure, on September 20th 1860. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere is believed to be that of Agnes 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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