- Son of the right hand
- In the bible, the name of the patriarch Jacob’s twelfth and most beloved son
- Frequently shortened to the nicknames Ben or Benji
History of the name Benjamin
You can always tell that an English family with a surname derived from a Biblical name acquired that surname sometime since the coming of the Normans about 1066, when Bible names were introduced into England.
Of course, few people had any surnames at all until within the last four or five centuries.
Benjamin is one of our surnames derived from a Bible surname. It was the name of one of the 12 patriarchs.
Rachel named her second child Benoni, “Son of my sorrow,” because she thought that he had been born at the cost of her life, but his father renamed him, “Son of my right hand,” or Benjamin. These early Biblical surnames were almost always given in a spirit of prediction.
Some of the English Benjamins claim Welsh origin, while others persist in the tradition that they are sprung from a German count of Jewish lineage.
The Benjamins located in lower Hereford, England, insist that they are descended from the De Lacys, who came over with William the Conqueror and who founded the families of De Lacy, Beryton, Berrington and Benjamin. The Benjamins they say were descendants of one of the De Lacys, who settled in Wales about 1704.
The oldest American family of the name is that established by two brothers, who came from Lower Hereford, and therefore belong to the De Lacy line.
Of these brothers, Richard Benjamin settled in Southold, Long Island, where his family have long been counted among the most respected settlers, and John, the other brother, born in 1591, was a member of Gov. Winthrop’s company and was designated as a gentleman by Winthrop.
He bore arms and the family motto, Pousse en avant, meaning press forward, and had his own personal motto, “A race by vigor, not by vaunts is won.”