Discovering our American, Canadian and European Benedict ancestors
Benedict extended family has a long history in North America, going back to the original Purists arriving in the 1630's. Starting with Thomas and Mary Benedict, our original family founders, their descendants have survived and thrived, stretching to all states and provinces in Canada and the United States. Before that, the Benedict name began, as best we know, in the Norfolk area of England, at least as far back as the early 1500's.
Here continues the folklore and descendants of those ancestors of ours. You will find the biographies and family lines of our Benedicts from Thomas on down to the more recently departed. This is a gathering of family stories, tales, research and other loose ends. Where we can, we have sources; but a good story is worth saving for the children.
This wiki site is dedicated to our forebears, who through their perseverance and fortitude, ensured the survival and prosperity of our generation of today.
The stories of the Benedicts have been compiled into a book on this wiki site. Please visit "Genealogy of the Benedicts in America - a History"
The origin of the surname Benedict is obscured in history, but it likely originates with the Latin word benedictus, for blessing.
One-Name Study Website
The Benedict surname is a personal study of the author. You will find the Benedict family tree website and this wiki site to be the primary references for the surname and associated families.
Study of Benedict Surname
Benedict is a common surname that comes from the Latin word meaning "blessed". The name was popularized by Saint Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict and thereby of Western Monasticism (Benedictine).
The earliest documented surname Benedict in Great Britain occurs in the Norfolk area on the east coast. George Benedict (abt. 1520-1576) was born and raised in Tasborough, a village in the south part of Norfolk, and approximately eight miles south of Norwich. Norwich, a city in Norfolk county, was once the largest city in England after London, and is the location of the Norwich Cathedral and was a Benedictine community as far back as 1019. It is plausible, that before surnames were common, that an early ancestor was called, given name from Benedict Abbey, or along those lines. As surnames became popular, it could then have been shortened to given name Benedict.
Show Benedict coat of arms. Explain that this is unlikely. Not an official design. Unknown origins.
The earliest known records of the surname Benedict are found in the Norfolk county of England, UK in the parish records of Tasburgh. Tasburgh itself is a village located about 8 miles south of Norwich.
The Great Migration
- Excerpted from Saints and Strangers 
Between 1620 and 1642, more than twenty-one thousand settlers landed on the coastlines of colonial New England, during the Great Migration that persisted for nearly a decade and a half, beginning in 1629. Puritans constituted the clear majority of immigrants.
Puritans were reformers, improvers, activists; their “purifying” impulse sought nothing less than the moral renovation of a troubled English nation.
In 1625, Charles I ascended the throne and quickly revealed Catholic sympathies. Charles depended on a formidable figure, a man long remembered and reviled in New England colonial annals as the scourge of the region’s religious founders. William Laud was appointed Bishop of London in 1628 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. The dismissal of dissenting ministers, prosecution of laypeople in church courts and censorship of Puritan literature all fllowed Laud’s rise to power. Charles dismissed Parliament in 1629, launching more than a decade of autocratic rule.
England was also suffering a long period of economic decline. Fields and common land was being fenced in to boost productivity, but that displaced farm families and labourers. Crop failures for three successive years, starting in 1628, added to the plight. One of the most heavily commercialized parts of England – an area that stretched from London northeast through Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk counties and southeast to Sussex County – emerged as the heartland of Puritan migration.
The Puritan participants in the Great Migration carried the most literate and educate colonists to settle in the New World in the seventeenth century. Puritanism appealed to people in England’s most modernized, commercial locations, were literacy was central to economic activity. At least 60 percent of males in New England around 1650 could read and write.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony
Long before the arrival of the Puritans from England, the bay area had been settled by the Natives of the Pennacook, Nipmuck, Massachusett, Wampanoag and Narragansett tribes. These semi-sedentary agricultural Natives cleared extensive tracts of land, especially along shorelines and river banks. European explorers marveled at the openness of coastal terrain, ready for colonial settlement.
The natives had agricultural skills, growing large tracts of corn fields. The areas were cleared in the spring and fall by setting controlled burns of underbrush and deadfall. Further, the Indian villages were connected by a network of Native trails, about two feet wide, crisscrossing the countryside. The Natives did not share the English idea of land as private property, but rather they "owned" the right to use their fields. The arriving Puritans, having left a country where dukes and earls owned the land, and the farmers were merely tenants on the fields, were eager to declare land ownership. Land was "purchased" from the native peoples, but not always with mutual understanding.
By the summer of 1637, the first Benedict sailed from Great Yarmouth, England, aboard the vessel ‘’Mary and Anne’’. Thomas Benedict, with his step-sister, Mary Bridgham, arrived that fall in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Later, marrying in the colony, Thomas and Mary had nine children, who thence began the Benedict descendants of North America.
By late 1639 or early 1640, our first generation of Benedict's in America, Thomas and Mary, followed the Reverend John Youngs to resettle at Southold on Long Island. Their nine children were born on Long Island. Thomas was busy with raising a family and also built a water mill, became a magistrate, appointed a lieutenant of the military, and helped negotiate the English settlement of New York. In 1665, some twenty-eight years after arriving, Thomas removes the family back to the mainland, to settle in Norfolk in Connecticut.
Of the second generation of the Benedict family, some stayed in Norfolk, like the two older brothers, Thomas Jr. and John. The next two brothers, Samuel and James, moved to the new settlement inland, at Danbury. The third generation remained in the Norwalk and Danbury communities.
By 1665, some twenty-eight years after arrival in the New World, Thomas and Mary removed their family to Norwalk, in Connecticut. They, and their two oldest sons, lived and passed away in Norwalk. Their next two sons, James and Daniel, moved further inland to start a colony at Danbury in Connecticut.
Notable Benedict people
- Thomas Benedict (1617-1689), first Benedict to land in North America
- Smedley Benedict
- Peter George Benedict (1877-1948), grandfather of Wiki's author
- Sir Julius Benedict (1804-1885), composer and conductor, born in Germany
- Julius and Vincent Benedict, characters in Twins
- Terry Benedict, character in Ocean's Eleven (2001 film)
- Phillium Benedict, villain of Recess: School's Out
- Larue Olsen; The Connecticut Nutmegger; Vol. 39, No. 3, Dec. 2006, pp. 353-356
- Saints and Strangers; Joseph A. Conforti; 2006; The John Hopkins University Press; ISBN 0-8018-8254-0