This famous name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational nickname for an archer (literally bendbow!). The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bendan", Middle English "bend(en)" to bend, with the suffix "-bow" from the Olde English "boga". 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. A Coat of Arms granted to the Benbow family depicts two gold cross-bows with red ornamentation between two bundles of arrows on a black shield. The arrows are gold with silver heads and red bands. A harpy, her head wreathed with a chaplet of red flowers is on the crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Bendebow, which was dated 1349, in the "Calender of Letter Books", City of London, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.