The background to our Bennoch/Bennet/Bennett family history
The farthest reaches in time that we have been able to document for our family history go back approximately 250 years. The family surname evolves from Bennoch (even Bannock) in the mid-1700s to a more anglicized Bennet in the first half of the 1800s, and then a fully anglicized version Bennett in more modern times. However, there are branches of the family who have carried forward all three variations of the name into the present day. I am really not aware of a clear derivation of the name, although “ben” is the Scots word for mountain. And of course “bannock” is a small loaf made out of flour or meal.
Although not a common name, Bennoch is most highly represented in the south-west of Scotland. Our ancestors came from Glencairn, Penpont and Durisdeer parishes in Dumfriesshire, and are also found in villages like Moniaive, Thornhill, Sanquhar and such places. A James Bennoch was shot by the forces of King Charles II for being a Covenanter in 1685 and subsequently buried in a martyr’s grave in Glencairn churchyard, just outside of Moniaive. I cannot trace back that far into the past, but I have little doubt there is a blood relationship.
While our earliest ancestors were tied to a largely agricultural economy and the poverty with which people who did not own land had to contend in early Scottish history, the dawn of the industrial age in 19th century Britain provided job opportunities in coal mining, ship building and support industries elsewhere in south-west Scotland, Glasgow, England, and then ultimately in Canada and the United States.