I'm trying to find out the origin of two middle names -- help please.?

So, I'm trying to find out a little bit more about my dads side of his family. His father is African American, and his mother is Native American & White (German we believe) but that's what I'm trying to find out if he's got some German ancestry in him. His middle name is Debenion and mine is Isabelle is mother & her mother both have the name Isabelle, and he remembers faintly his mother telling him is middle name Debenion is German, and that she name him after a famous German athlete named Debenion but I cant find anything on the name. Can you please give me the origins of these two names ANY information one them both would be a big help - thank you!

4 Answers

  • Tina
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    First about Isabelle, remember that most surnames were given names before they were surnames and almost always have the same meaning:

    Isabelle Name Meaning and History

    French and English: see Isbell.

    Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4


    Isbell Name Meaning and History

    English: from the female personal name Isabel(l)(a). This originated as a variant of Elizabeth, a name which owed its popularity in medieval Europe to the fact that it was borne by John the Baptist’s mother. The original form of the name was Hebrew Elisheva ‘my God (is my) oath’; it appears thus in Exodus 6:23 as the name of Aaron’s wife. By New Testament times the second element had been altered to Hebrew shabat ‘rest’, ‘Sabbath’. The form Isabella originated in Spain, the initial syllable being detached because of its resemblance to the definite article el, and the final one being assimilated to the characteristic Spanish feminine ending -ella. The name in this form was introduced to France in the 13th century, being borne by a sister of St. Louis who lived as a nun after declining marriage with the Holy Roman Emperor. Thence it was taken to England, where it achieved considerable popularity as an independent personal name alongside its doublet Elizabeth.

    Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4


    I did find some information on de Benion being a French Huguenot family, French noblemen, followers of Henri Quatr and the House of Valois. After the Edict of Nantes they removed from France to England and Wales and a variant Binyon, Samuel, Binyon was for many years a collector of ancient manuscripts; he was born in Switzerland and was urged to accept his father’s former position as librarian to the Czar, in Hermitage, St. Petersbure by the czar personally but declined, wishing to devote his time to antiquities. He lectured on Hebrew at Johns Hopkins University, and at Harvard, and his works, “the Restoration of Thebes, Karnak and Babylon,” are found in the public libraries of Boston, New York and Baltimore. There was also a famous chemist named Binyon, said to be the greatest scientist of Paris at one time. “History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography”, p. 366

    On the LDS regular site there is a Pedigree Resource File that has a record for the variant Binyon in 1719 in Virginia:

    NANCY JANE (Binyon) BINNION - Pedigree Resource File

    Gender: F Birth/Christening: 17 Jan 1719 Henrico, Buckingham, Virginia

    The English records are older and there are several variant spellings of the name.


    On the new familysearch.org the oldest record I can find for a Debinion is for 1950:


    Surname etymologies are general, in that, they only give the first know recording of a name and records that are not for your family are only good as “clues” for where to look for possible records of YOUR ancestors. However, the only way to answer any of the questions that you have is to research your ancestors and learn their origins and then, hopefully, you will gain some insight into the family stories that have been passed down regarding your names. Just remember that all family stories don’t prove to be true so don’t be too disappointed if they are more fiction than fact.

  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    You don't find origin of ancestor by middle names or surnames for that matter...........to find the origins of your ancestors you research your ancestry by researching the paper trail of records your ancestors left.............in the past people didn't have access to names like we do now, they were from the bible, what other people were called and from previous family names...so naming procedure if your family used it as many did and you only find that once you have researched back some way

    Isabelle means 'God Is My Oath' so a biblical name first found in records in France and Spain

    Debenion sounds like a surname which has been used as a middle name...so naming procedures could very well be in your family and as spelling changed over the years it could be spelt very differently now to what it used to be and it could be Germanic but more likely it is French as in 'De Benion' which means son of Einion and Welsh...where many French Huguenots went to to escape religious persecution. St. Einiawn was one of the early Welsh Saints


  • 10 years ago

    Just to illustrate (not trying to be nasty)... I could name my son Napolean, but that would not mean that my ancestors came from France. Findagrave.com has a Debenion Johnson born in 1884, who is buried in Georgia...meaning, the name is found at least that early. So..it does not validate (or disprove) it being a German name.

    My point however, is that to find out if SHE has German ancestry, you have to locate her ancestors and their place of birth. Her using the name is not going to validate that, in the least.

    If mom is living...you need the names of her parents, and dates/ locations to search for records. Persons born pre 1930 are findable in the census, and that includes info regarding their birthplace and parents place of birth. It will also enable you to learn more about her possible Native American lineage. Given the level of prejudice in the early 1900s, it is possible that persons claimed that heritage, rather than African American. No judgement intended...just what is historically common.

    In short...don't expend energy on mistaking name "origin" for actual ancestry.

  • pizana
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I cannot uncover any person named "Debenion" or "Dubenion" within the German Wikipedia, however "Benion" is the Breton identify of "Beignon", a commune within the Morbihan département in Brittany in north-western France.

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