overview 1200 to 1853
The Bednall Archive
Eight hundred years ago Robert de Badenhall lived in Staffordshire, England. The reason his existence became a matter of record is that he was one of the knights of the Bishop of Chester from who he held the land known as Badenhall, from which he derived his name. It is from Robert’s family that the Bednalls of Adelaide, South Australia trace their descent. The name Bednall is itself a derivation of Badenhall, although it did not appear in the modern form until the late 1600’s. (See annex 1 for the origins and evolution of the Bednall name)
Badenhall land accommodates a 16th century house (with possible earlier
origins), a conference centre and a trout farm. Now known as “Baden Hall” the name has changed little
Through succeeding centuries, the family’s fortunes waxed and waned, with later generations being recorded as lords of Badenhall (and other lands), farmers, blacksmiths and in a range of other occupations.
lived in the midlands, chiefly in Staffordshire, from 1200 until the late
1700’s. (See Family Tree 1, and a
list of key historical references at annex
late 1700’s two brothers, Thomas and Joseph Bednall, each moved from Hanbury
in Staffordshire to Leicester. It
is in Leicester that the origins of the Australian branch of the family can be
In February 1807
Joseph Bednall married Mary Stringer at the church of St Mary de Castro in
Leicester. In October 1811 Joseph
and Mary had a son whom they named William.
William grew up
in Leicester, and in November 1835 he married Etheldreda Henshaw Blore at
Paddington Church, Middlesex (London). He
was 24 and she was 22. The Blores
were a family of some prominence, originally from Derbyshire.
Etheldreda’s father Thomas was a lawyer and historian who had published
several books on antiquities,
and Etheldreda’s half brother Edward (26 years her senior) was a noted
architect, and held the position of Royal Architect to both King William IV, and
later Queen Victoria
marriage William and Etheldreda lived in Leicester where their first child,
William Tompson Bednall was born in August 1838. He was baptised in the parish of St Mary’s.
The family then moved to London and in 1841, were living Dorset Street,
St. Marylebone. Later that year, their second child, Thomas Blore Bednall, was born
and four years later, the family increased again with the birth of their
daughter Etheldreda Alice Kendall Bednall (known as Alice).
senior, who was a builder, died in 1846, “from the effects of an accident”.
He was buried, just 35 years old, in Paddington Churchyard, Middlesex
(London) leaving behind Etheldreda, a widow at 33 and their three young children aged eight, five and one.
After William’s death Etheldreda and her children stayed in London. Young William was educated at the Philological School, London (now part of Kings College), and left school at 14, accepting an appointment in the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street, London.
At or about this time the family were living with in the house of a Leicestershire man, William Watts. on Bread Street Hill, St. Olave's parish, London and and there is some uncertainty about the relationship since William Tompson Bednall is recorded as Watts' son-in-law. No marriage certificate has, however, yet been found
Personal letters from that time indicate that Etheldreda’s two aunts, Alice Tompson and Anne Coxon (her father’s sisters) took an interest in her circumstances (see letter transcripts at annex 3). The letters discuss Etheldreda’s possible entitlement to an inheritance from the estate of her father’s second wife, Dorothy Gell.
On the fourth of May 1853, aged 40, and almost seven years after the death of her husband, Etheldreda and her three children set sail for South Australia. This single momentous act has significantly shaped the history of the Bednall family. The extent of Etheldreda’s influence and the strong links to the Blore family can be seen in the practice of giving the name Blore (and other names associated with the Blore family such as Etheldreda, Alice, Gell and Tompson) to succeeding generations of Bednalls.
 The name William has often been given to the eldest Bednall son since the early 1500s
 Thomas Blore was particularly known for his major work, a History of Rutland
 Edward was the son of Thomas’ first wife, and Etheldreda the daughter of his third. Edward was known for his book The Monumental Remains of Noble and Eminent Persons
 Etheldreda’s father Thomas died in 1818 when Etheldreda was 5 years old. She was raised by her mother in Leicester. In 1834, when Etheldreda was 21, her mother died. The following year (1835) she married William Bednall
 There is also some suggestion that from time to time the double surname Blore Bednall was used.
© R. Bednall, 2004