Show ContentsBen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Ben name lie with England's ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It comes from when the family lived in Cheshire and Lancashire. Originally, the surname was derived from the Old English word beonet, which meant by the grassy plain. [1] Other records show that the name was also a nickname derived from the Christian name Bennet or Benjamin and was frequently used by the Benedictine monks.

Early Origins of the Ben family

The surname Ben was first found in Cheshire and Lancashire, but we must look to Northumberland for the first listing of the surname; for it is there that we find Nicholas Bent listed in the Assize Rolls of 1256. [1]

Later, the Subsidy Rolls of 1327 in Staffordshire list Adam del Bent. [1] Robert de la Bende was listed in Shropshire during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377.) [2]

James Ben, Bane, Bene, Bennet or Biort (d. 1332), was Bishop of St. Andrews, trained from his youth for the church. "As Archdeacon of St. Andrews he was sent to France in 1325, along with three other dignitaries, to renew an offensive and defensive alliance with that country. In the original document his name occurs as Bene; he is subsequently mentioned as Sir James Bane; by Fordun he is called Jacobus Benedicti; while the name on his tombstone was Jacobus dominus de Biurt. " [3]

Early History of the Ben family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ben research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1600 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Ben History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ben Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Ben were recorded, including Bent, Benn, Ben, Bente, Bend and others.

Early Notables of the Ben family

Notables of this surname at this time include:

  • William Benn (or Ben) (1600-1680), an English nonconformist minister and divine

Ben Ranking

In the United States, the name Ben is the 10,260th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4] However, in France, the name Ben is ranked the 785th most popular surname with an estimated 6,380 people with that name. [5]

United States Ben migration to the United States +

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Ben family emigrate to North America:

Ben Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Francis Ben, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1639 [6]
  • Mr. Ben, who landed in Virginia in 1695 [6]
Ben Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johan Frederic Ben, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1749 [6]
  • Hans Michael Ben, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1754 [6]
Ben Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Ben, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1852

Australia Ben migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Ben Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

Contemporary Notables of the name Ben (post 1700) +

  • Mahjoub Ben Bella (1946-2020), Algerian-born French painter and designer
  • William Ben Cravens (1872-1939), American Democratic Party politician, Cotton grower; U.S. Representative from Arkansas 4th District, 1907-13, 1933-39; Died in office 1939
  • Robert Ben Garant (b. 1970), American Primetime Emmy Award nominated screenwriter, producer, director, actor and comedian, known for Night at the Museum (2006), Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and Reno 911!: Miami (2007)
  • William Ben Cravens (1872-1939), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas (1907-1913), father of William Fadjo Cravens
  • John Ben Shepperd (1915-1990), American politician, Attorney General for Texas (1953-1957)
  • Richard Ben Cramer (1950-2013), American journalist and writer, Pulitzer Prize winner (1979)
  • William Ben Hogan (1912-1997), American golfer, and is generally considered one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game
  • Arthur Ben Leaman, British vicar in Cheshire
  • Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph, Rabbi and teacher
  • C. Ben Dusenbury, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Conway, South Carolina, 1918 [8]

The Ben Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Nec temere, nec timide
Motto Translation: Neither rashly nor timidly.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CHATHAM 1852. Retrieved
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from on Facebook