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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

In the early years of my family history research attempts to trace my great-grandfather Samuel BEDDINGTON proved very problematic.  Trawls of records attempting to locate him became increasingly extensive, eventually so extensive that they amounted to the kernel of the data collection requirements needed to justify the label 'one-name study'.  After several years Samuel was eventually found - born a BETTINGTON far from where he was known later in life.

Variant names

At present four variants seem to suggest possible common origins based on considerations of geographical and significant pedigrees.  These are Bettington, Beddington, Bedington and Biddington.  There is also some evidence that suggests Beetlestone and similar may derive from like origins.  However it is apparent that the name is particularly prone to corruption in both recording and by confusion with quite a variety of similar and not so similar names such as Boddington, Billington, Berrington, Piddington, Reddington and Riddington.

Name origin

The suffix of '-ton' clearly suggests a locative surname however the ease with which the names have been corrupted in the past coupled with their virtual non-existence before, say, 1600 make it difficult to suggest the likely origin at present.Eight pedigrees cover most English people of the name contained in the 19c censuses and before 1800 five of these pedigrees strongly centre on the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.  Again though the virtual absence of the names before the mid 1600s may well suggest that they themselves arose from one of the more common similar names.
Two of the pedigrees cover later arisings of Beddington and Biddington which are known and clearly defined.  The Beddington instance relates to the adoption of the name by an Anglo-Jewish family (formerly Moses).  They apparently adopted the name in the late 1860s from land they owned in Beddington, Surrey.  The Biddington instance seems to derive from a spelling error that occurred when a Riddington from Leicestershire joined the Marines in the early 1800s.  Descendants of this man subsequently retained the Biddington spelling.
The remaining pedigree arises in east London in the early 1800s and current evidence suggests this may be a corruption of one of the similar forms, perhaps Reddington.

Historical occurrences of the name

  • James Brindley Bettington (1796-1857) - merchant and pastoralist who settled in Australia in 1827.  Horse and sheep breeder and a member of the Legislative Council of NSW 1851-53
  • Rowland Arthur Bettington (1852-1933) - settled in South Africa in 1872 and raised the irregular force 'Bettington's Horse' associated with the Jameson Raid
  • Jack (John Louis) Beddington (1893-1959) - Head of Shell advertising and Head of Film for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War

Name frequency

We've identified 292 persons in the England and Wales census of 1881.  Also at that time there were perhaps a further 15 in the US, 19 in Canada, 27 in Australia and at least 10 in South Africa.In England and Wales these numbers had expanded to 341 by the time of the 1901 census

Distribution of the name

Distribution in the UK in the late 18c seems to centre on the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.  However the ease with which the name is corrupted or confused with similars means that scattered references are easily found round England.


Data collection began in 1994 but only became systematic somewhat later. Current status.....
  • BMDs - GRO Indexes complete for England and Wales 1837 to 2005, ongoing for others. Contains 2,396 entries (91%)
  • Census Databases - All indexed entries collected for the 1841 to 1901 UK censuses with substantial progress on other local ones. We presently have 1,730 names (89%)
  • Parish Registers Database - Initially sourced from the IGI but now heavily expanded to contain 782 entries (74%)
  • Wills Database - Includes all national probate and death duty records 1811 to 2004, PCC Wills and Admons pre 1858 plus a growing number of local probates.  Over 570 persons are mentioned within the records (99%)
  • Miscellaneous Databases - A growing collection of other references in national and local archives
  • Pedigrees - The eight main pedigrees account for most persons in the late 19c censuses and many earlier fragments represent our work in progress.


Our Y-DNA study of males bearing any of the variants of our names has recently been initiated and we are seeking further participants.  Its primary object is to determine how our major documentary pedigrees relate to each other.  As it is in its early stages we'd welcome hearing from anybody bearing one of the name variants detailed elsewhere on this page but particularly from any Beddingtons or Biddingtons with Forest of Dean ancestry or any Australian Bettingtons.  

Please get in touch through the contact details at the foot of the page.