Beadnall/nells of London

The Bednall Archive

 Last updated 03/07/2010


The Beadnall/Beadnell personal  name has its origin in the place name Beadnell near Bamburgh in Northumberland and its earliest forms are Bedehal (1161), Bedenhale (1177), Bedenhall (1251) and Beednal (1273).  Over the years occurrences of the name spread from Northumberland to some but not all parts of the country. A survey of the Post Office telephone directories carried out in 1981 revealed that after 800 years 82 percent of Beadnells still lived north of a line drawn from Filey to Chester. The greatest concentrations of the Beadnell/Bedanall name were in and around Middlesborough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds and York.

Apart from visits by Northumbrian Beadnells to London, few references have as yet been found of Beadnells in London prior to the 19th century. That there were Beadnells in London prior to this date is shown by the marriages of Bethia Beadnell to Francis Naylor in July 1665  and of Priscilla and Ralph Beadnell in 1730. However, the problem is that it is often impossible to determine whether the person referred to is a Beadnell from Northumberland or Yorkshire, a Badnell from Berkshire or Oxfordshire or a Badnall/Bednall from Staffordshire etc.   One Beadnell family is an exception since it is possible to trace this family's line not only forward throughout the 19th and 20th centuries but also backwards  to their Northumbrian origins. The family in question has achieved a sort of literary immortality through its association with the author Charles Dickens.

The Beadnells of Lombard Street

Maria Beadnell was Charles Dickens’ first love and the model for Dora Spenlow in “David Copperfield” and Flora Finching in “Little Dorrit”[1]. She was one of the three daughters of George Beadnell, a London banker, who in 1830 lived at No.2 Lombard Street, London, next door to Smiths, Payne & Smiths Bank managed by his brother John. George eventually took over management of the bank about the time his brother John left No. 2 Lombard Street and moved to his new home in Blackup Lane, (later West Lane) Tottenham [2].

John and George were the sons of Excise Officer Christopher Beadnell and his wife Ann nee Thompson. Christopher was a Yorkshire man and the son of Wensley shoemaker Francis Beadnell (d.1779) and his wife Margaret (d.1777) daughter  of Thomas Thompson of Mount Park, York. [3]  It's possible that Christopher's father-in-law had something to do with Christopher's entry into the Excise Service about 1754/55 for Nottinghamshire Records state that "Christopher Beadnell and George Thompson, Officers of Excise took all oaths and declarations at Nottingham on the 13th January 1755"[4].  He began his career in the service in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts, moved to Southwell in about 1763 and 3 years later  moved to Liverpool  for a short period before taking up his post in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire in 1768. It was here that his sons John and George were born.[5][6][7]  He and his family remained in Uttoxeter until sometime after his daughter Margaret's marriage to the Edmund, son of Beadnell's colleague John Craske in 1786.  The details of what happened to the family after that are as yet unclear but it seems likely that Christopher, who was approaching his 60th birthday, retired from the Excise Service and moved to Teddington in Middlesex.

Christopher Beadnell  claimed to be a descendent of Ralph Beadnell of Lemmington, (1582) one of the younger sons of Edward Beadnell of Leverchild and Nunriding, Northumberland, seneschal of Alnwick Abbey (d. 1576). Currently this family tree can only be traced back (with gaps) through Edward’s father, John Beadnell (died abt. 1579) to a William Bednall recorded in 1415 as holding Lemmington Tower [8].

Further research will be needed to prove this line and extend it back to the 12th century Beadnells of Beadnell who were sons of Gospatricus, dreng of Beadnell, Northumberland.  Since the direct male line is thought to have died out in the 14th century any connection would probably be through the female line i.e. either through one of the daughters and heirs of Thomas son of Gospatricus de Bedenhal or through one of the daughters and heirs of William de Bedenhal the nephew of Thomas.[8]


     © A.W.Bednall, Macclesfield UK  2009

[1] Charles Dickens and Maria Beadnell (“Dora”) Correspondence between Charles Dickens and Mrs Henry Winter (nee Maria Beadnell) the original of Dora Spenlow in “David Copperfield” and Flora Finching in “Little Dorrit” Edited by Professor George Pierce Baker, Harvard University.

[2] Census of England & Wales 1841  HO 107 /     and HO 107 / 
[3] Transcripts of the Wensley Parish Registers 1538 to 1837, Yorkshire Parish Registers Society.
[4] Nottinghamshire Extracts from the County Records in the 18th Century, Tweadale Meaby, K., Forman, Nottinghamshire 1947 pages 328 and 389.
[5] The Liverpool Directory 1766, Nevett & Co. page 35-36,
[6] Uttoxeter Parish Registers. Staffordshire Record Office (SRO) D/3891/1/1-   
[8]Vital Records Index: British Isles Church of the Latter Day Saints 1998
[7] Burke's Landed Gentry 1871.
[8] The Drengage of Beadnell, Northumberland, Northumberland Families by W. P. Hedley, Society of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne, Vol.1, pages 265-267.





©A.W.Bednall, Macclesfield 1991-2010