Show ContentsBenit History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Benit surname is derived from the Latin given name Benedictus, which means "blessed." It became a common given name throughout Europe due to the popularity of St. Benedict (c.480-550). By the 12th century, the name was found in versions derived directly from the Latin, as well as versions derived from Norman French. 1 "In the reigns of Edwards II. and III. the name is found thus modified: Fitz Benedict, Benediscite, Bendiste, Bendish, Bennett." 1

Early Origins of the Benit family

The surname Benit was first found in north Lancashire where a Benedictine monastery known as Furness Abbey was by founded by the Savigny monks of Normandy in 1127. Records from the 12th century show Benet as a common Baptismal name in the region, which then became a patronymic surname (Eg. Benet son of Alan). 2

There were other Benedictine monasteries in England, which also produced early instances of this surname. Magister Benet or Benedictus (d. 1226), Bishop of Rochester, "first emerges into history in connection with the struggle between William de Longchamp, bishop of Ely, chancellor and chief justice, and regent of the kingdom during the absence of Richard I in the Holy Land, and the Earl of Moreton, afterwards King John." 3

Willaston in Cheshire was home the family at early times. "Willaston Hall, an ancient brick building, was erected by the Bennett family in 1558, and continued to be their residence until a very late period." 4

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list many early spellings of the name throughout ancient England: Benedict, or Benett de Hankeston in Cambridgeshire; Beneyt Mercator in Cambridgeshire; Nicholas Beneit in Oxfordshire; and finally, Reginald filius Beneyt in Huntingdonshire. 2 The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed only one: Joanna Benet, doghter (daughter.)

Another source gives a better geographical understanding of the name: "Differently derived from the early personal name of Benedict and from 'benet,' a minor order of priests. In the Hundred Rolls for Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire, in the reign of Edward I, it occurs frequently in the form of Beneyt. At present it is rare or absent north of Lincolnshire and Lancashire, but is well dispersed over the rest of England, being best represented in Cornwall, Derbyshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Notts, etc. It is singular that Bennetts is for the most part confined to Cornwall, the combination of the two varieties of the name placing this county at the head of the list." 5 This latter source was published in 1890 so the reader needs to bear that in mind that the regional distribution was at that time and has likely changed in today's era.

Early History of the Benit family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Benit research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1208, 1250, 1301, 1327, 1594, 1597, 1599, 1601, 1603, 1604, 1605, 1609, 1614, 1616, 1618, 1619, 1628, 1631, 1652, 1653, 1660, 1661, 1663, 1667, 1673, 1675, 1683, 1685, 1693, 1695, 1701, 1786, 1809 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Benit History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Benit Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Benit have been found, including Bennett, Bennet, Benett, Benet and others.

Early Notables of the Benit family

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Thomas Bennett, Sheriff of London in 1594, and Lord Mayor (1603-1604); when he was knighted, he purchased the manor of Beachampton in Berkshire; W. Benett, Mayor of Chester in 1652; Sir Thomas Bennet, 1st Baronet (c. 1597-1667); Sir Levinus Bennet, 2nd Baronet (1631-1693); Sir Richard Bennet, 3rd Baronet (1673-1701); Richard Bennett (1609-1675), an English Governor of the Colony of Virginia, born in...
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Benit Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Benit family to Ireland

Some of the Benit family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 125 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Benit migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Benit, or a variant listed above:

Benit Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Juan Benit, aged 30, who landed in New Orleans, La in 1836 6
  • Cayetairo Benit, aged 26, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1838 6

The Benit 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: De bon vouloir servir le roy
Motto Translation: To serve the king with right good will.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  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. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  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) on Facebook