When complete, the plan is that these pages will contain information on:
|English families from these counties:|
|The possible origins of the name, and locations of the families|
|A full list of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Benbrooks (and name variants) extracted from the indexes for the General Register Office (GRO) for England & Wales between 1837 and 1930|
|Background notes on occupations, social history, etc.|
And also, hopefully, links to:
|US Benbrook families, including:|
|Other Benbrook research|
The BENBROOK name is clearly very uncommon. It is known to exist in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but the numbers are always low. Even in the UK, where it almost certainly originated, there are only about 70 adults with the name on the UK electoral roll. In the US, with a much larger population, the figure is perhaps 10 times this number.
There are a number of obvious variations on the spelling of the name. BENBROOK, BENBROKE, BEMBROOK, BEMBROOKE, BANBROOK, BANBROKE, BAMBROKE, BAMBROOK and similar have all appeared at one time or another, Less obvious, but possible, are BONBROOKE and BANBROCKE. Through a connection with an old form such as BANBRYGG, there is possibly a link with names like BANBRICK, BAMBRICK, BENBRICK and BEMBRICK. There is even a possibility of a connection with BAINBRIDGE this way.
A number of suggestions about the origin have been made, such as a link with the town of Binbrook, in Lincolnshire, England, or with the Welsh county and town of Pembroke. Another possible connection is with the Dutch town of Bennebroek. So far, there has been no evidence to link any of the early families with these geographical places. Just as likely, the name could simply have a topographical origin ('of the Ben(d) in the Brook'?).
However, the most plausible explanation is that the name is a variant of the surname BARNBROOK, which itself is probably derived from the village of Bournbrook, in Warwickshire, just a few miles to the south west of Birmingham. The distribution maps of people bearing the names BARNBROOK and BENBROOK in the 1881 census are quite similar, as the following maps demonstrate, and show clusters in an area remarkably close to Bournbrook.
BENBROOK in 1881
Just 48 people bore the surname BENBROOK in 1881, and nearly half of them were living in the illustrated area.
BARNBROOK in 1881
There were 109 people with the surname BARNBROOK in 1881, and the map shows 87 of them.
(Maps produced using 'Surname Atlas', from Archer Software)
In the UK, concentrations of Benbrooks can be demonstrated from the General Register Office indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths, which date from 1837. These show consistent groupings in the East End of London (starting south of the river, in Rotherhithe, then moving north to Stepney, Poplar and West Ham), Northamptonshire (Potterspury, Leighton Buzzard), Warwickshire (Warwick, Aston, Birmingham) and Yorkshire (Leeds, Dewsbury). Earlier evidence has been found of these families in all these places, with the exception of those in Yorkshire, where the first two entries are in 1846 and 1849 then there's a long gap until 1873 - leading me to assume that a single family arrived there during the early 19th century; this is supported by evidence from census records. The pre-1837 records (parish records, wills) also point to families in Leicestershire (Desford, Humberstone) and rural Surrey (Guildford, Godalming). There's a lot of research still to be done, but both the London and Leicestershire roots look long - stretching back perhaps to the 16th century - and of course the counties of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire are next door to each other. So far, all the Benbrooks found outside the UK have been descendants of English emigrants (forced as well as voluntary!).
Return to the Benbrook Family Home Page
Last Updated on 5 June 2008
By Howard Benbrook