The name Benjamin is of Hebrew origin.
The English meaning of Benjamin is Son of fortune
There are many indicators that the name Benjamin may be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian Peninsula. The approximately 750,000 Jews living in Spain in the year 1492 were banished from the country by royal decree of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jews of Portugal, were banished several years later. Reprieve from the banishment decrees was promised to those Jews who converted to Catholicism. Though some converted by choice, most of these New-Christian converts were called CONVERSOS or MARRANOS (a derogatory term for converts meaning pigs in Spanish), ANUSIM (meaning "coerced ones" in Hebrew) and CRYPTO-JEWS, as they secretly continued to practice the tenets of the Jewish faith.Our research has found that the family name Benjamin is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 10 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:
Bevis Marks is the Sephardic synagogue in London. It is over 300 years old and is the oldest still in use in Britain.The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London has published several volumes of its records: they can be found in libraries such as the Cambridge University Library or the London Metropolitan Archive
In this work, Cecil Roth covers the long course of Italian-Jewish history extending from pre-Christian times, comprising in a degree every facet of the evolution of Jewish life in Europe. Contains a huge store of facts tracing regional variations over a period of 2000 years.
A series of royal decrees by the House of Aragon.The approximately 3800 documents included in this book contain Sephardic names recorded during the period from 1213 to 1327.By this time family names were well developed. This is the richest documentary evidence ever published on Jews of any land. The Documents and Regesta from the Archives of Aragon, originally published in numerous volumes of the Revue des Ĕtudes Juives some five decades ago and now brought together for the first time, relate the story of one of the most important and fascinating medieval communities, one which produced great scientists linguists, translators and writers, financiers and businessmen, politicians and diplomats, scholars and Rabbis. Yet, the account remains essentially the life story of ordinary men and women from all classes and all walks of life. The extensive indexes and carefully - prepared tables, maps and glossary open new avenues for further historical research on the way they lived, the laws which governed them and the extensive lore which they produced. Jean Regne(1883-1954) was an archivist and paleographer who published several historical works but his book on the Jews of Aragon based on the registers and documents found in the Crown of Aragon Archives is certainly the most important.
The product of many years of painstaking research by two late scholars, Richard D. Barnett and Philip Wright, this volume presents the texts or summaries of 1456 tombstone inscriptions of Jews who lived in Jamaica between 1663, when the British ousted the Spanish, and 1880, when systematic registration of deaths was introduced. Jewish families who had fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal settled in Jamaica in increasing numbers during that time. Ashkenazic Jews also settled there in the eighteenth century. The Jews played a significant part in developing the island's natural resources and its international trade. Featuring detailed indexes by name, date and language, The Jews of Jamaica is a valuable tool for the study of immigration to the Americas, the surnames, given names and genealogy of Sephardi Jews. The texts of the inscriptions, many of them in three languages (Hebrew, English and Portuguese or Spanish), are of cultural interest and sometimes refer to dramatic events in the lives of the Jewish residents of Jamaica during a turbulent period.
Pere Bonnin, a philosopher, journalist and writer from Sa Pobla (Mallorca), a descendant of converted Jews, settles with this work a debt "owed to his ancestors", in his own words. The book, written in a personal and accessible style and based on numerous sources, includes a review of basic Jewish concepts, Jewish history in Spain, and Christian Anti-Semitism. There is also a section that focuses on the reconciliation between the Church and Monarchy and the Jews, which took place in the 20th Century. In this study, Bonnin deals in depth with the issue of surnames of Jewish origin. In the prologue, the author explains the rules he followed in the phonetic transcription of surnames of Hebrew origin that are mentioned in the book. The researcher cites the Jewish origin, sometimes recognized and other times controversial, of historically prominent figures (like Cristobal Colon, Hernan Cortes, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and many others) and links between surnames of Jewish origin with some concepts in Judaism.. The book also includes an appendix with more than three thousands surnames "suspected" of being Jewish, because they appear in censuses of the Jewish communities and on the Inquisitorial lists of suspected practitioners of Judaism, as well as in other sources. In the chapter "Una historia de desencuentro", the author elaborates on surnames of Jewish origin of the royalty, nobility, artistocracy, clergy, and also of writers, educators and university teachers during the Inquisition. Special attention is given to the "Chuetas" of Mallorca, the birthplace of the author.
ETSI (a Paris-based, bilingual French-English periodical) is devoted exclusively to Sephardic genealogy and is published by the Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society (SGHS). It was founded by Dr. Philip Abensur, and his professional genealogist wife, Laurence Abensur-Hazan. ETSI's worldwide base of authors publish articles identifying a broad spectrum of archival material of importance to the Sephardic genealogist. A useful feature of ETSI is the listing, on the back cover, of all Sephardic family names, and places of origin, cited in the articles contained in each issue
This is a genealogical masterpiece written in Portuguese concerning Sephardic families from Portugal and Gibraltar. There are five volumes that provide genealogical information on families that in fact lived on the west part of the Mediterranean basin and not only Portugal and Gibraltar. The work contains a list of names of Sephardic families that returned to Portugal and Gibraltar after hundreds of years of expulsion. It has also a very rich photographic documentation.
This register is from the manuscript record preserved in the Archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London named "Sahar Asamaim" transcribed, translated and edited by the late R.D. Barnett, with the assistance of Alan Rose, I.D. Duque and others; There is also a supplement with a record of circumcisions 1679-1699, marriages 1679-1689 and some female births 1679-1699, compiled by Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira. The register includes surnames of those circumsized as well as the names of their Godfathers & Godmothers.
The Principality of Asturias (Spanish: Principado de Asturias - Asturian: Principáu d'Asturies) is an autonomous community within the kingdom of Spain, former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages. It is situated on the Spanish North coast facing the Cantabrian Sea (Mar Cantábrico, the Spanish name for the Bay of Biscay). The most important cities are the provincial capital, Oviedo, the seaport and largest city Gijón, and the industrial town of Avilés. No one knows the exact date at which Jews arrived in Asturias. Based solely on the documentation found so far in Asturias, there are clear references to the mid-eleventh century Council of Coyanza held in the Diocese of Oviedo in 1050 which states in Chapter VI: "... no Christian shall live in the same house with Jews or eat with them; if anyone infringes our constitution, they shall do penance for seven days, and if not willing to do it, being a noble person, they shall be deprived of communion for a full year, and if an inferior person they will receive a hundred lashes." But it is in the twelfth century when the rise and importance of the Jewish people is more noticeable in this region. Jewish witness signatures begin to appear more often on donation pledge cards from 1133. Asturias names are not very common among the Jewish population in other parts of the peninsula around the same time, perhaps causing confusion.
A bilingual (Portugese/English)reference book of Sephardic surnames. Includes New Christians, Conversos, Crypto-Jews (Marranos), Italians, Berbers and their history in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Contains over 16,000 surnames presented under 12000 entries, with hundreds of rare photographs, family shields and illustrations.It also contains a 72-page summary of Sephardic history, before and after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, as well as a 40-page linguistic essay about Sephardic names, including an interesting list of the 250 most frequent Sephardic surnames. The period covered by the dictionary is of 600 years, from the 14th to the 20th century, and the area covered includes Spain and Portugal, France, Italy, Holland, England, Germany, Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Ottoman Empire, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America and more.
Around the 12th century, surnames started to become common in Iberia. In Spain, where Arab-Jewish influence was significant, these new names retained their old original structure, so that many of the Jewish surnames were of Hebrew derivation. Others were directly related to geographical locations and were acquired due to the forced wanderings caused by exile and persecution. Other family names were a result of conversion, when the family accepted the name of their Christian sponsor. In many cases, the Portuguese Jews bear surnames of pure Iberian/Christian origin. Many names have been changed in the course of migration from country to country. In yet other cases "aliases", or totally new names, were adopted due to fear of persecution by the Inquisition.
A common variation of Benjamin is Benjamim.