Monday, September 24, 2012


Benavente is a Spanish name. 

There are several theories as to its meaning; possibly "good wind" or "good arrival."  Whatever the case, there is a town in the province of Zamora, Spain named Benavente and people were often called by their native towns.

In Spain today, around 5,000 people have Benavente for their surname.  Not a huge number, but Jacinto Benavente, pictured above, was a famous writer who had a square in Madrid named after him.


The Benaventes show up early on Guam, in the 1727 Census.  A Manuel de Benavente is listed as a soldier in the Spanish company of troops.  As always, we cannot be sure if he was a Spaniard, or from Latin America.  If he was from Latin America, he could have been pure-blooded Spanish or a mix (mestizo).  We probably will never know unless some document from 300 years ago shows up.

Manuel was married to a woman named Agustina Tana.  Tana is not a Spanish name, and it could very well have been Tanña, the Chamorro word for "taste."  Even if this is not the case, Agustina could very well have been Chamorro, since many of these soldiers came as bachelors and married local, Chamorro women.

Manuel is the only Benavente in the records, so it is safe to assume that all Chamorro Benaventes come from this soldier Manuel de Benavente who was from Spain or Latin America.  Manuel and Agustina had three boys and all three boys show up in the 1758 Census as married men.  These boys were born and grew up on Guam; mixed breed but Chamorro in language, customs and mentality.

One of the better-known Benavente clans on Guam is the Bobo clan.  Their ancestor was Mariano Garrido Benavente, who was married to Manuela Borja.  They would have been born around the 1860s.

In the late 1890s, Fernando Mendiola Benavente moved from Hagåtña, Guam to Garapan, Saipan.  There he married Dolores Castro Villagomez and began the Benavente clan in Saipan.  Two of his sons, Ignacio and Fernando, became well-known gentlemen.  Ignacio, for example, served as a judge and as Mayor of Saipan for a while.

Msgr. James LG Benavente

Ignacio Villagomez Benavente

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