original North American Benedict line came from a Thomas Benedict of Norfolk county of England. Thomas; born in 1617, he was raised an only son. His mother he had lost early; his father marrying, for his second wife, a widow, who had a daughter, Mary Bridgham.
Fleeing the cruelties and oppressions of the Stuarts in England, in 1637 Thomas emigrated to the New Colonies of North America, accompanied in the same ship by Mary Bridgham, his step-sister. They married shortly after arrival in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, then moved to a new English settlement on Long Island, there raising nine children and eventually settling in Norwalk in the Commonwealth of Connecticut.
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. If you have a Benedict story to tell, please consider registering into the website. It has an easy way for you to add and edit web pages; just check out the tutorial link in the left-hand column.
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 primary references for the surname and associated families.
Etymology 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, "nickname from Benedict Abbey", or along those lines. As surnames became popular, it could then have been shortened to "given name Benedict".
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
Mary Bridgham Benedict: First Chronicler
"Our first American grandmother, who walked in all the ordinances of the Lord, blameless, till she looked over the brow of a hundred years into the happy land [Mary lived to be one hundred], must not be omitted as the author of the first Benedict genealogy, and our first teacher of the moral lesson of family pride. Like an old chronicler, she told the traditionary story of the family in England, and of its first generation her, to her grandson James, afterward one of the seven deacons of the seven churches. He reduced the tradition to writing, and in due time it passed from him, by a cop, to his grandson Abner, then a student in college, and afterwards the first clergyman of the family, thence to me, his grandson. My inquiries showed that many copies of it were extant in the original form."
- Erastus Benedict, as quoted in Genealogy of the Benedicts in America, Volume I
Genealogy of the Benedicts in America, Volume I
The first written record on the Benedict family line in America was a document by Deacon James Benedict, a grandson of the original settlers, Thomas Benedict and Mary Bridgham. She lived to be over 100 years, but her mind was clear to the end. James Benedict recorded her recollections in 1755 and passed along a copy to his grandson, Abner Benedict, then a student in college, who subsequently passed it to his grandson, Erastus Cornelius Benedict.
In 1840, Erastus met a Lewis Benedict, a merchant of Albany, New York, and amateur student of the Benedict family line. Lewis had a copy of the old narrative, to which he added his own line, and printed a small edition for family distribution, including his son, Henry Marvin Benedict. As mentioned in the forward of GBA-I, "Early sickness took Henry M. from his studies and gave him years of suffering, and made him an invalid for life, as we are told in the too brief notice of him. We regret the wearisome days and nights of his illness, but we rejoice that it gave him leisure to become famous in the family as the chronicler and genealogist of the Benedicts in America."
The first edition was published in 1870, then edited and republished in 1969 by Elwyn Benedict. The author is Henry Marvin Benedict, a resident member of the Albany Institute (Albany, New York State) and of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Hard cover bound; 477 pages.
The only information available on Henry M. Benedict is contained within the volume. His early education was at the Albany Academy and subsequently entered William College in 1842. Three years later, disease terminated his studies and made him an invalid for life. He later served with the Union Army in the American Civil War as chief clerk in the United States Disbursing office. For his service, he received commissions as Major and subsequently, of Colonel. From 1868 onward until publication in 1870, his full attention was occupied with the compilation of the Benedict genealogy.
Henry M. was able to compile and release his Benedict study in 1870 in a private publication, The Genealogy of the Benedicts in America. He passed away at Saratoga Springs, New York, on July 5, 1875.
Genealogy of the Benedicts in America, Volume II
First edition of Volume II was compiled and authored by Elwyn Ellsworth Benedict, with assistance from his spouse, Esther Winefred (Wemes) Benedict, and published in 1969,. It is ard cover bound; 636 pages.
Elwyn learned of his Benedict family line from long evenings sitting down with his mother, writing out the family tree and history in longhand. He and Esther and their family of two boys would take summer driving vacations, going through most of the main 48 states, collecting Benedict names from telephone directories, cemetery treks and direct visits, then return home at East Syracuse, New York State to compile the information. They also mailed out hundreds of survey sheets, to be filled in by families and mailed back to Elwyn. Esther would prepare all of the publication-ready sheets on a manual typewriter for submission to the printer.
Elwyn passed away at his home in 2010.
Even after the Volume II was finally finished and distributed, more original material has been forwarded to the Benedict residence, in hopes that there will be a Volume III.
For DNA research and information on the original founders of the Benedicts, go to Robert Benedict's website at Benedict Topics.
A set of Benedict family newsletters was published by Mary Alice Benedict Grindol from 1992 to 1999 and is available at Benedict Family History News.
To follow the stories of the Benedicts in America, go to these links:
- Name Index page for an alphabetical and date name list. The Name Index page will give you links to individual biographies of our ancestors.
- Generations page for each generation from Thomas Benedict onwards.
- References page for the main sources, citations and references.
- Places page for geographical locations important to Benedict research.
How do I find my ancestor?
Click on a Benedict name below to follow your lineage. A complete listing of names and dates can be found by clicking on the Benedict Name Index on the left-side column.
- The English Origins of the First Thomas Benedict of Long Island and Norwalk, Connecticut, by LaRue Olsen; pub. The Connecticut Nutmegger, Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Vol. 39 No. 3 Dec. 2006, pp. 353-356
- Saints and Strangers; Joseph A. Conforti; 2006
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- A Record of the Members of the Kappa Alpha Society and a City and Town Directory, 1825-1913; p. 107