The originally French surname of BENCIVENGA was from the baptismal name Benedict, and this medieval given name owes its popularity in the Middle Ages chiefly to St. Benedict (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. No doubt the meaning of the Latin word also contributed to its popularity as a given name, especially in Romance countries in the 12th century. The Latin form of the name is found in England alongside versions derived from the Old French form BENEIT, BENOIT and BENVENUTI which was common among the Normans. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. Early records of the name in England mention Benedictus Kepeherm, 1193, County Yorkshire. Joanna Benet of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas, son of Bennett Calwaye, was baptised at St. Columb Major in Cornwall in the year 1581. William Stiche and Bennett Bennet were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1577. John, son of Thomas Bennet was baptised at the same church in 1578. The word Heraldry is derived from the German HEER, (a host, an army) and HELD, (champion): the term BLASON, by which the science is denoted in French, English, Italian and German, has most probably its origin in the German word 'BLAZEN' (to blow the horn). Whenever a new knight appeared at a Tournament, the herald sounded the trumpet, and as competitors attended with closed vizors, it was his duty to explain the bearing of the shield or coat-armour belonging to each. Thus, the knowledge of the various devices and symbols was called 'Heraldry'. The Germans transmitted the word to the French, and it reached England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
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