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About the study
This study grew out of an attempt to find the origins of my own variant of this unusual name. This was started many decades ago, because I was sick of having no answer to the question 'that is an unusual name - where does it come from?'. Sadly I still don't have an answer to that age old question, but the journey so far has been very interesting. Of course like any genealogist, I have explored my own ancestry on as many lines as I can manage, so have not devoted myself solely to my study names. I have therefore focussed my beakhust and beakhurst study first on those connected to me, but as time has gone on, extended this out into a study of the surnames.
Currently, the registered variants beakhurst and beakhust, but other names have been explored in an attempt to find origins and name changes. Older references (at least when originals are consulted) more usually spell the name without the R, but transcription errors mean that some online sources do not match the original. As rural Berkshire and Buckinghamshire historically spoke with a more pronounced west-country speech, I would expect the spoken name WITH an 'r' not to be mistaken by a clerk, so tentatively I wonder if the original name from which both modern variants came was more likely Bacus than Backhurst. But YOU quite possibly have the key to this. Please get in touch! Indeed, the spelling conundrum has only had anything approaching a solution with the release of the 1911 census, where the name actually used then is the one I will use, unless a later autograph record says otherwise. I have not yet updated my trees to reflect thus, though. Anyone studying these names should always seek both variants as a minimum.
For the moment, the origin remains obscure. Frustrating, as this has been one of the motivations for starting the study. Researches to date suggest that (barring adoption) all Beakhust and Beakhurst trees I have studied in any depth seem to be connected, suggests that the origin of the present-day name variants lies in an ancient spelling change wrought by a parish clerk. This of course leads me to wonder: from what older name was the name beakhust, then beakhurst, derived. This is still a mystery to me at least.
Historical occurrences of the name
Historically, famous (or even infamous) Beakhust and Beakhurst people are hard to find, but in the early/mid 20th century, we find a Madeleine Beakhurst in the movie business behind the scenes ( in the USA ) and today one or two in Ireland are in the same business. Power boat racing fans will probably know the names of my (late) cousin Robert Beakhust, and his wife Annie. They were involved in leading roles in running the sport in the UK.
Frequency is extremely low. I will add numerical data as I get it, but taken together the two variants in the formal study are among the rarest.
Distribution of the name
18th century Berkshire, Bucks, Surrey. 19th century Berkshire, Wiltshire, Surrey, London, Paris, Rhode Island. 20th century Surrey, London, New York, Dublin, with migration in recent decades to several locations in USA.
Including (not exhaustive and only gradually moving into electronic form): All references to the surnames in civil registration England and Wales 1837 to 2005, (b m d), including corrections to those records found 'the hard way'! All references civil registration Scotland (actually only one) All references available in civil registration Ireland up to 1958, from online sources. Most military records (at least pointers to those records) where accessible. A number of parish register bulk extractions, e.g. Hamstead Marshall Berkshire from 1675 to after 1837 A number of wills. All USA Social security death index entries, and some USA draft records. USA and uk census for most dates. Rhode island state census. Telephone books and directories, USA and UK, mostly as available online. Trees contributed by other family members. An online tree (not quite up to date as at 30/10/2013) at www.beakhust.com
There is a DNA project. Visit Http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Beakhust for more information. I set up this DNA project initially to cover what I felt were gaps in the documentary evidence linking the name-bearers in USA and Ireland to the uk. Recently, the documentary evidence has started to come together, and I am looking out for volunteers, including from Ireland or the USA, to validate my researches. Contact me if interested in participating.