Evolution of the Bednall Name


The Bednall Archive


Last updated 24/10/2011

The Bednall Name and its Variants

Early forms of the names 

Changes in the 18th - 19th centuries

Other References to the Name

The Bednall Name and its Variants

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.

Early Forms

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 in the 18th -19th centuries

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.

One example of the changes that could occur in the 17th and 18th centuries is that which affected the descendants of William Badnall of Hanbury, Staffordshire. In the late 17th century William and his two sons, William and Christopher, moved from Hanbury to live in or near Spath and Stramshall, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. They were all literate and wrote their surnames quite clearly as Badnall. When children were baptised or buried, however, their names were generally entered in the registers of the parish church of Uttoxeter as Bednall and only occasionally as Badnall or Badnal. Even the officials who filled in the marriage bond which William Badnall (II) of Hanbury entered into prior to his marriage to Sarah Stubbings at Uttoxeter in 1705 got it wrong as the bond clearly shows (see figure below). William senior's (I) grandson (another William III) may or may not have been literate but in the period when his wife was bearing children i.e. 1733 to 1749 approximately, his name was entered in the parish registers as either Bednall or Bednal. When his wife died in 1780 her name was entered in the burial register as - Beadnell - and the same mis-spelling was used when William's own death was recorded in 1796. This mistake may have been influenced by the fact that one of Uttoxeter’s leading inhabitants in the 1760s-1770s was Christopher Beadnell, a Yorkshireman whose ancestors came from Northumbria.
The gravestone of William III shows that at least the second misspelling was avoided by the mason who, no doubt guided by William’s daughter Sarah Blood, carved the name William Bednall. The names of William (III)’s grandchildren were entered in the parish register of Hanbury, Staffordshire either as Bednal or Bednall. The former spelling was applied to his grandson John when he married in 1793 and later on when the births of John’s children were recorded in the Hanbury register of baptisms. This single final L variant of the Bednall name was carried to Manchester in 1824 by John's son ( a successful shoemaker) and is still evident in the Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport area today. This example quite clearly shows how over a period of 120 years the name of one branch of the Badnall family became by turns Bednall, Beadnall and Bednal.