The paternal family tree of the main line of Bednalls of Walsall can only be traced back to a Benjamin Bednall who married Sarah Hodgkins, in St. Matthews Parish Church, Walsall, on 4 April 1725. Where he came from and who his parents were is still unknown despite the efforts of one of his direct descendants to find the necessary evidence. Hopefully this problem will be resolved as more records become accessible.
There are a number of reasons why Benjamin's parents are difficult to trace, apart from the obvious failure to find and search the relevant records. Perhaps the most likely is that his name was not Badnall but Rednall, Padnall, Bagnall, Bedhall or some other name. For example, a Benjamin Biddle was baptised in Bromsgrove in April 1702 and another child of the same name was baptised in Tamworth 8 years later. Until Benjamin Bednall appeared in Walsall, the use of this first name was unknown in Bednall and Badnall families, whereas it had been and continued to be used by Bagnall families both in England and in America.
Earliest Walsall References
Benjamin Bednall's marriage is one of the earliest references to Bednalls in Walsall but he is not the only one for two years earlier, Elizabeth, daughter of George & Mary Bednall had been baptised in the parish church of St. Matthews. Nor are these two families the only ones mentioned in the Walsall records of the 1st half of the 18th century for the baptism of John son of William and Mary Bednall and the death of William son of Francis Bednall are recorded in 1742 and 1745 respectively. Where did all these people come from? A look at parishes within a 10 mile radius of Walsall shows that the possibilities include Birmingham (8.5m), Blackheath (7.5m), Cannock (7.7m), Gornall (7.1m), Hints (9.05m), Lichfield (9.25m), Sedgeley (6.7m), Stonnall (4.8m), Sutton Coldfield (7.6m) and Wolverhampton (6.2m)., amongst many others. A detailed search of relevant records for these parishes would be a starting point in the search for Walsall Bednall origins, though a much wider search will probably be necessary.
Bednall events known to have occurred in this area include the baptism of Thomas son of James and Elizabeth Bednall of Hints in 1706. James Bednall was the miller of Hints but both he and his wife disappear before 1709 when two of their children became chargeable on the parish and attempts were made to remove them. One is known to have later been apprenticed to a master on the islands of either St. Christopher or St. Kitts in the Caribbean but what became of the other(s) is unknown. Their parents were married in Chaddesley Corbet some miles from Hints, showing how wide the net must be cast (initially) in the search for the origins of the Bednalls of Walsall. References to Bednalls have also been found in the parishes of Stonnall, King Swinford and Cannock, for example one Thomas Bednell is listed on the Hearth Tax for Over Stonnall in 1662 and in May 1718, a Thomas Badnall of Standall or Stonnall, married Elinor Guest in King Swinford. This couple subsequently baptised their daughter Sarah in King Swinford and a son, Edward, in Sedgley. Elsewhere, John the son of Thomas Badnall was baptised at Penkridge in April 1676 and in 1707, Elizabeth Badnall “of this parish” married John James at Bednall in Cannock. Perhaps one of these families will eventually prove to be relatives of Benjamin's and enable the ancestors of the Walsall Bednalls' line to be traced.
Benjamin & Sarah to
the present day
As regards the period after Benjamin and Sarah's marriage, it is evident that some Bednall families moved to and fro between Walsall and Birmingham and as with all families, members moved to other parts of the country and indeed the world as the 19th century turned into the 20th and increasingly throughout the 20th century.
1901, there were just 6 Bednall
households, 27 men, women and children, in Walsall: of these 14
were men. Walsall's traditional horse gear industry provided jobs for 5 of the
men and 1 of the women. The single woman was a bridle stitcher, 2 of the men
were harness furniture makers, the 3rd a harness maker, a 4th was a brown
saddler and the 5th a buckle polisher. Some of the Bednalls, who were described
as silver platers, die
sinkers or bobbers, may also have been employed in (or in connection with) the same industry. Other
occupations noted include tailoring, teaching, millinery and iron working. 76 year
old Henry had, perhaps the most unusual job -he was a lamplighter.
To be continued.
It might be useful to compare the DNA of male Bednalls whose paternal family tree can be traced back to Benjamin and Sarah with that of Bednalls whose paternal line can be traced to the Badnalls of Standon. The problem, however, is likely to be finding a sufficient number of participants from different branches of these lines to be reasonably sure of achieving a valid outcome.
©A.W.Bednall, Macclesfield 1991-2010