The English surname Benbow, chiefly found in Shropshire, is of occupational origin. The name Benbow is derived from the Middle English term bend(en) meaning “to bend” and bowe meaning “ a bow,’ hence an occupational name for an archer. The two famous name bearers listed in the National Biography are father and son, John (senior) 1653 - 1702, vice admiral who began his career as masters mate in the Mediterranean in 1678, was master a year later in the merchant service, and captain in 1689. After many battles from France to the West Indies he died of wounds in Port Royal. His son, John (1681 - 1708), also served as second mate in the merchant navy, was shipwrecked off Madagascar, captured by natives, but escaped and returned to England. Examples of the name recordings include: Agnes Benbowe, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, on June 27th 1543, and in the West Country, Ann Benbow, who married Richard Hooper at Kenn, Exeter, Devonshire, on April 18th 1710.
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