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About the study

My own link to the name Beckingham is through my maternal line, and my researches into the name began around 1996. It was only later when I linked up with other researchers that The Beckingham One-Name Study came about. The name, together with variants was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2001.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are Beckingham, Beckenham, Beckengham, Beckinham, Backingham and Bickingham. However, I have also seen Beckinggame, Bechingame, Becchinghame, Beckynham and even Beckingringham among other spellings of the name.

I also know that at times the name has been corrupted to Buckingham and appears in more than one pedigree as such.

Name origin

The surname of Beckingham was originally a locational name from Beckingham, a small village in Lincolnshire. There is also a village of this name in Nottinghamshire.

Bechingeham was listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086; this may have been the place rather than a surname. The name was originally derived from the old English word BEOCCA.

Another version of the name origin again relates to BEOCCA but linked with the old English word HAM meaning field or stream thereby Beocca living by the stream or 'Beckingham'.

Finally, my own thoughts on the shortened spelling of Beckenham - there was a Zebulon Beckingham born in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire who moved to Croydon in Surrey, close to the town of Beckenham in Kent. My thought is that the locals in and around Croydon were so used to the local spelling and therefore all future references to the surname Beckingham were so corrupted.

Historical occurrences of the name

  • Elias de Beckingham, died 1305, was said to be the only honest Judge in England during the reign of Edward I.
  • Charles Beckingham 1699 to 1731, poet and playwright, along with Elias (above) he appears in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.
  • Stephen Beckingham 1697 to 1752 - noted for having his marriage to Mary Cox on 9th June 1729 painted by Hogarth.
  • Richard Beckingham aged 26, accused with his brother Thomas of 'machine breaking' in Hampshire in 1830. Thomas was acquitted but Richard was transported to Australia for 7 years on 'The Eliza' in February 1831. He was granted a free pardon in 1836 but then 'vanished'.
  • A William Beckingham was a definite bigamist in Hampshire in 1850 but he seems to have got away with it, as his original wife also remarried back in Berkshire.

Name frequency

The ONS 2002 data shows that there were 794 Beckinghams and 156 Beckenhams in England and Wales; Beckingham being the 7,957th most common name and Beckenham down in 24,999th position.

At the 1881 census there were 446 Beckinghams and 123 Beckenhams.

Distribution of the name

Beckinghams were most prevalent in Hampshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire whereas Beckenhams are mainly to be found in Surrey, Kent and Middlesex. This seems to confirm my theory regarding the corruption of the Beckingham spelling to Beckenham when the families moved from Wiltshire to Surrey.


I have collated all the Beckingham/Beckenham entries from the General Register Offices for England and Wales from 1837 to 2011, plus I have many distinct Pedigrees for Beckingham in my database, some submitted by other researchers. Census data is continually being added to the files together with wills, obituaries and other information as it comes to my notice. Data from the 1939 Register has been added.