Recorded as Bonifant, Bonefant, Bullevant, Bullivant, Bullivent and others, this is a famous English surname. It is however of pre 11th century Norman-French origins, deriving from the phrase 'bon enfant', meaning good child. As such it was probably given as a medieval nickname to a much loved child. Introduced into England in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of 1066, it was first recorded as a surname in the 13th century (see below). Other early examples include Henry Bonefant in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of the county of Berkshire in 1279, John Bon Effaunt in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Sussex in 1332, and Roger Bonyfaunt in the registers known as 'The Letter Books of the city of London' in the year 1472. The early surviving church registers from the time of King Henry V111th in 1535, give examples such as William Bonyvant in the Index of Wills proved in the Rochester Consistory Court for the county of Kent in 1540, whilst Ann, the daughter of Olyver Bolyvent was christened on October 25th 1640 at St. John's Hackney, in the city of London. A coat of arms granted to the Bullivant family has the blazon of an ermine shield charged with a black tower, and on a red chief, three gold fleur de lis. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William Bonefant. This was dated 1207 in the Curia Regis Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John of England, 1199-1216. 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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