The surname of BENTON was a locational name from Little and Longbenton, places in Northumberland. The name was derived from the Old English word BEINETUN, literally meaning the dweller at the place where grass grew. The earliest of the name on record appears to be BENETON (without surname) who was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. BENTONA (without surname) appears in Northumberland in 1236. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. The name is recorded in Aberdeen in the 14th century, probably an introduction from Northumberland. Edward Benton of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. A notable member of the name was Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858) was the American statesman, born near Hillsborough, North Carolina. Known as 'Old Bullion' from his opposition to the paper currency, he also made himself unpopular by opposing slavery in the territories. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Wiltshire.
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