Last updated 24/10/2011
Names have changed considerably over the centuries and even today the name is frequently misheard, misread and mistyped leading to such mis-spellings as: Bednall; Badnall; Bendall; Bedwall; Beilnall; Be-nall; Bedhall; Beghall; Brednall; Bednal; Bedwell and Bodnall, Of these mis-spellings the most common were found to be Bedhall; Bedwall; Bendall and Begnall and it is evident that over the years the names of some members of Bednall/Beadnell, etc. families would have been inadvertently changed as a result of misunderstanding, mishearing, mispronunciation on the part of the officials of the church and state with whom they had to deal. Thus telephone directories may contain many Bednall/Beadnells, etc. concealed behind Begnall; Bedwell; Bendall and Bagnall names not to mention those for whom the parson's or clerk's tardiness, coupled with his poor memory, caused a name to be entered in the parish registers as Beedlam or Beedland rather than as Beadnall.
Such errors were most likely to occur when a individual (particularly one who was poor and illiterate ) migrated to another part of the country where the name was unfamiliar and the dialect different. In the many centuries when the level of adult literacy was low, an individual unable to read or to spell his or her own name would be unable to correct a clerk or priest (even if he had the opportunity) who incorrectly wrote Bagnole, for Badnall or Beadlam for Beadnall. In any case, before the advent of a generally accepted dictionary and the subsequent greater standardisation of the language, English spelling was very flexible. In some dialects (Staffordshire for example) vowels such as a) and (e) were interchangeable.
Many examples can be given of the way in which personal names changed or varied. In 1284 William de Badenhale held 1/10 of a Knight's Fee at Badenhale in Staffordshire of the Bishop of Chester but his name was also spelt as Badinghale in other documents of this period (Feudal Aids 1284 to l381). His son or grandson's name was entered as John de Badenhal in the Subsidy Roll of 1333. Ninety years later, in 1422, a John Baddenale of Coldemesse near Badenhall is sued by Thomas Swynerton (Plea Rolls, De Banco 8 Henry V) and the following year John's death is entered in the Court Roll of the Bishop of Chester's manor of Eccleshall.
In the 17th century extract from the court rolls John's surname is spelt Badnall. This suggests that the modernisation of the surname dates from the late 15th and the early l6th centuries a supposition which finds some support in Final Concords of Elizabeth's reign where the name of Bednall village in Penkridge, Staffordshire is sometimes given as Bedenhall and at others as Bednall otherwise Bedenhall. Generally surnames became fixed in the 14th century and early 15 century although some were fixed at much earlier dates. However, greater changes could occur as in the case of the Staffordshire Bednalls when one member of a family, probably a younger son, left home to seek a fortune in a neighbouring large town such as Leicester or Coventry. He would have been known by his Ade Bedenhale@ surname while he lived in Leicester but as A de Leicester when he returned to his home town or village. Individuals might also change their names following marriage to a heiress whose was inheritance was substantial . Such changes became rarer as the 14th century progressed.
Changes of Name in the 17th and
18th Centuries The above section has outlined some of the name changes which
occurred in the period from the 13th to the 16th centuries but it would be wrong
to assume that changes did not take place after this, they could and did.