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About the study
I have studied the surname Bedlington for several years and collected all of the major UK sources of information, and several other sources. I have collated some of this information into family trees but further work is necessary to complete this.
There are no variants that I am aware of in current usage. Occasionally, the name is transcribed as Beddington, but this surname appears to have a separate origin.
The name is almost certainly from the town of Bedlington, Northumberland. Early records have the name as de (of) Bedlington, which would tend to confirm a locative origin.
Historical occurrences of the name
The rarity of the name means that there are few famous bearers. Possibly the best known is Stuart S Bedlington, an expert on South-East Asia who is frequently featured on television in the United States.
There were 173 Bedlingtons indexed in the 1881 census of England and Wales. The current British population has fallen since then and is now approximately 140, but the world population is estimated to be in the 200-300 range.
Distribution of the name
There appear to have been two distinct centres of population in the early modern period. One of these was centred on South Shields, County Durham and the other around the village of Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire. As these are both adjacent to the North Sea and not too distant from one another, it would seem likely that the name has a single origin but no evidence of this has yet been found. Subsequently, the name has ramified to other locations in the UK and elsewhere. There are populations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, particularly in the state of Washington.
The data I have collected includes:
- All the England and Wales GRO index entries of births, marriages and deaths, which are available on the Guild Archive.
- The Scottish Register office index records of births, marriages and deaths
- Records of the UK censuses 1841-1901, extracted based on commercial indexes (and occasionally not where it can be established that these have errors)
- Calendars of wills and administrations proved at the Principal Probate registry, 1858-1943
- Copies of all wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury prior to 1858.
- Copies of all wills proved at the Prerogative Court of York and other Yorkshire courts prior to 1858.
- Extracts from a number of parish records.
- Copies of entries from Ancestry.com indexes to the USA censuses 1790-1930.
- Copies of entries from the 1881 census of Canada.
- Various BMD records from Australia and New Zealand.
- and a number of more unusual sources.
However, I am always interested in more information.