Show ContentsBenn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Benn surname lived among the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. The name comes from when they 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 Benn family

The surname Benn 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 Benn family

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

Benn Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Benn include Bent, Benn, Ben, Bente, Bend and others.

Early Notables of the Benn family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Benn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Benn Ranking

In the United States, the name Benn is the 6,194th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

United States Benn migration to the United States +

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Benn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Stephen Benn, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [5]
Benn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ed Benn, who landed in Virginia in 1706 [5]
  • Charles Benn, who arrived in South Carolina in 1755 [5]
Benn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Benn, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1837 [5]

Canada Benn migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Benn Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Benn U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]
  • Mr. John Benn Sr., U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]
  • Mr. John Benn, "Behn" U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1783 [6]

Australia Benn migration to Australia +

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

Benn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Thomas Benn, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on November 13, 1832, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. William Benn, (b. 1814), aged 20, English labourer who was convicted in York, Yorkshire, England for life for house breaking, transported aboard the "Augusta Jessie" on 27 September 1834, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1876 [8]

New Zealand Benn migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Benn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William H. Benn, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [9]
  • Mr. S.J. Benn, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [9]
  • Mr. John Benn, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [9]
  • Harriet Benn, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wairoa" in 1880
  • Edward Benn, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wairoa" in 1880
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Benn migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Benn Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William Benn, who settled in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635
  • William Benn, aged 24, who landed in St Christopher in 1635 [5]
  • Mr. William Benn, (b. 1611), aged 24, British settler traveling aboard the ship "William and John" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Benn (post 1700) +

  • Anthony Neil Wedgewood "Tony" Benn (1925-2014), Viscount Stansgate, English politician, Member of the UK Parliament, President of the Stop the War Coalition (2001-2014), Secretary of State for Energy (1975-1979), Secretary of State (1974-1979)
  • James R. Benn (b. 1949), American author, best known for the Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series
  • Arrelious Markus Benn (b. 1988), American football wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Stephen Michael Wedgwood Benn (b. 1951), 3rd Viscount Stansgate, English peer, Director of Parliamentary Affairs for the Royal Society of Biology, Vice-President of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, son of Tony Benn
  • Emily Sophia Wedgwood Benn (b. 1989), English Labour politician, Councillor for Croydon London Borough Council (2014-2016), eldest child and only daughter of The 3rd Viscount Stansgate
  • Caroline Middleton DeCamp Benn (1926-2000), formerly Viscountess Stansgate, an English educationalist and writer, wife of the British Labour politician Tony Benn
  • Mitch John Benn (b. 1970), English musician and comedian, known for his comedy rock songs performed on BBC radio
  • Arthur Shirley Benn (1858-1937), 1st Baron Glenravel, English businessman and politician, Director of the International Chamber of Commerce (1927-1937)
  • Alfred William Benn (1843-1915), English writer and agnostic, honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association
  • Sir Patrick Benn (1922-1992), English peer, 2nd Baronet Benn of Rollesby
  • ... (Another 14 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • William Gordon Benn (b. 1889), British Captain with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [12]

The Benn 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.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 27) Andromeda voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1832 with 186 passengers. Retrieved from
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th August 2020). Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  11. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021 from
  12. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook