Hi Jennifer,

My huband loves going to Vermont, and his parents own a house in Stowe, Vermont. I was looking up names that we could use as a middle name when we have children that had something to do with Vermont, and I found a name that isn’t in your database. The town of Stowe, Vermont was chartered by a man named Benning Wentworth. When I heard the name Benning, I thought it would be good as a first name too. Do you know anything about this name? Thanks!

Sarah K.

Hi Sarah,

Very often early Americans from prominent families were given surnames as first names. This was to show their glowing lineage! As in, “Oh, you’re a BENNING! I know that family.” This naming practice has now become trendy again, but not for those reasons. Names like Mason, Harrison, Taylor and Harper are all top names that were originally surnames.

Interesting fact: Benning is one of the earliest surnames recorded in history. It is derived from the Latin “Benedictus” which means “blessed.” Other related surnames are Bennett, Benedict, and the French Benoit.

Thank you for the new name! I will make sure it is added to the BabyNames.com database.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Jennifer Moss is the founder of BabyNames.com, Author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.

She entered the tech arena in the early 80s as a software developer and database architect, and became a pioneer in the Internet industry. In addition to operating BabyNames.com, Jennifer runs her own web development agency in the California mountains.