This interesting name has a number of possible origins, each with its own distinct derivation. Firstly, the surname may be of Old French origin, derived from the Old French term "bonnaire", from the phrase "de bon(ne) aire", meaning "of good bearing or appearance", and adopted into Middle English as "boner(e), bonour", gentle, courteous, handsome, thence used as a nickname for someone thought to embody these qualities. The surname from this source is found particularly in England and Scotland; one Thomas Boner was the first of the name to be recorded in Scotland as a charter witness in Aberdeen in 1281. Secondly, Bonner may be an Irish (County Donegal) translation of the Gaelic "O'Cnaimhsighe", descendant of Cnaimhseach, a byname meaning "Midwife". Finally, the surname may be of Welsh origin, as an Anglicized form of the patronymic "ab Ynyr", son of Ynyr, a personal name derived from the Latin "Honorius", Honoured. The surname forms from all of these sources range from Bonnaire and Bon(n)ar, to Bon(n)er and Bon(n)or. One James Bonner was an early settler in the American Colonies, arriving in Virginia in 1623 on the "Truelove". An early Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is a paly of six gold and red, on a blue chief three gold lions rampant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Boneyre, which was dated circa 1250, in the "Chartulary of the Monastery of Ramsey", Huntingdonshire, 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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