Notes from the past…

Surname Saturday: Bennett

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Bennett Crest Joshua F Bennett (b. 1794 Kentucky) was my fraternal fourth great-grandfather. He and his family came to Texas before 1850, and were living in Travis County for the 1850 United States Federal Census. He is my “oldest” Texas ancestor, having arrived here the earliest (so far…).

According to Ancestry.com, the surname Bennett is English, derived from “the medieval personal name Benedict (Latin Benedictus meaning ‘blessed’). In the 12th century the Latin form of the name is found in England alongside versions derived from the Old French form Beneit, Benoit, which was common among the Normans.”

The Internet Surname Database provides the following information about surname Bennett:

This interesting surname derives from the medieval given name “Benedict”, from the Latin “Benedictus” meaning blessed. This personal name owed its popularity in the Middle Ages chiefly to St. Benedict (circa 480 – 550), who founded the Benedictine order of monks at Monte Cassino, and wrote a monastic rule that formed a model for all subsequent rules. There were many versions of the name throughout Europe, and in England in the 12th Century the Latin form of the name can be found alongside versions derived from the Old French forms “Beneit” and “Benoit”, which were popular among the Normans. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below). London Church Records list the christening of Dennys Bennett on June 15th 1567 at St. Mary at Hill, and the christening of Thomas Bennit on December 1st 1583 at St. John’s, Hackney. One John Bennett was an early emigrant to the New World; he is recorded as sailing in the “Plaine Joan” from London in May 1635, bound for Virginia. A Coat of Arms granted to a Bennett family is silver, a chevron between three red lions’ heads erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Benet, which was dated 1208, in the “Charter Rolls of Durham”, during the reign of King John, known as “Lackland”, 1199 – 1216. 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.

Most of my Bennetts were cattle ranchers, first in Texas, then in Wyoming in the early 20th century.

One Bennett brother, James Bennett, Jr, grandson of Joshua F Bennett, apparently was a “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” kinda guy, having killed a man in San Saba County, Texas ca 1880, then fleeing to Wyoming, where he robbed several banks there and in Montana and even Canada, and was eventually killed trying to rob a bank in Glendive, Montana.

A second grandson of Joshua F was Thomas Joshua Bennett, who became a physician and was elected as president of the Texas State Medical Association:

ThoJBennettbio

Those Bennett boys where certainly an interesting and colorful bunch!

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