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2585

Benbrook

 

About the study

My immediate family comes from the East of London, and they've been living there for at least 9 generations (since approximately 1750). I reached my 'brick wall' trying to find the origins of my earliest known ancestor and, because the name is reasonably uncommon, I thought it would be a cunning strategy to collect all the occurrences of the name that I could find. The BENBROOK one-name study was born.

Variant names

As with a lot of surnames, the capacity for variant spellings of BENBROOK is huge. I've often been called 'Mr. Bembridge', or 'Mr. Benbow', and letters frequently arrive at my house addressed to someone with a name like: 'Mr. Pembroke' or 'Mr. Bembrooke'. In order to control the scale of the research needed, I've chosen to limit the scope of variants to the following spellings: BENBROOK, BANBROOK, BEMBROOK, BAMBROOK, BENBROKE, BANBROKE, BEMBROKE and BAMBROKE The first 4 of these variants are formally registered with the Guild. I think it's possible that one or several of the following names are also variants: BENBRICK, BEMBRICK, BANBRICK, BAMBRICK, but I'm not yet ready to examine whether they should be included. I'm fairly sure, though, that PEMBROKE is *not* a variant.

Name origin

I believe that the surname is likely to have originated in Warwickshire. A distribution of the variants using 1881 census data shows very clearly that, for all the presence in the East End of London, there is a distinct concentration in Warwickshire, particularly in the area around Warwick. There is other evidence that supports this theory. I noticed when I was researching the Warwickshire BENBROOKs that another name, BARNBROOK, would often appear in the same parishes. The distribution of BARNBROOK is very similar to BENBROOK, with perhaps a slight shift in emphasis to the north west - on the Worcestershire/Staffordshire border. It just so happens that in this same border area there is a small village called Bournbrook, now absorbed into the south west corner of Birmingham. I think that therefore BENBROOK and its variants have a locative origin - the village of Bournbrook - and that over many hundreds of years the name has progressively been corrupted from Bournbrook through Barnbrook to Banbrook, Benbrook and the rest.

History of the name

The earliest reference I've uncovered so far to any of the variants of the surname is in a Deed of Gift, dated 26th January 1456. It reads: 'Gift with warranty from Alice Merston of Killyngworth to Thomas Barnebroke of Selley and Richard Chaumbre of the same of lands, tenements, rents and reversions with meadows, pastures, feedings, waters and woods in Norfeld, Worcs., which she inherited after the death of Richard Meddelton; to hold for ever from the chief lords of the fee for due and customary service. Dated at Norfeld, 26 January 25 Henry VI'.

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