Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

3,185 total views, 2 views today




About the study

As for many people, my one name study developed out of my researches into my own family history.
In the course of this research I realised that the family name could take many forms, especially as I went further back in time, and eventually I discovered that the original form of the name was rather different to my birth name. I wanted to find out when and how this change occurred, and began to collect as many early records as I could, gradually moving forward in time.
In 2012 I registered the surname Bilcliffe and its main present day variants with the Guild. My study is therefore at quite an early stage, and is currently focused on England and Wales, although I do follow individuals and families belonging to the trees I have constructed if they emigrate.
If you are reading this page it i€™s likely that you have an interest in the surname "Bilcliffe" or one of the variant names listed below. Please do contact me as we may be able to help each other.

Variant names

I have registered the following present day variants of the name:Bilcliff, Billcliff, Billcliffe, Biltcliff, Biltcliffe, Bincliffe, Bintcliffe
Historically there were many different ways of writing the name, with single or double letters "€˜l"€™ and "€˜f"€™, presence or absence of final "€˜e"€™, vowels "€˜i"€™, "€˜e"€™, or in earlier periods "€˜y"€™, and any combination of these variables. Rather more difficult to understand is the replacement of the first "€˜l"€™ with "€˜n"€™, although these two letter sounds are formed in the same place in the mouth.
The name Bilclough emerged in the Tyneside area in the 19th century. There are no examples in the 1841 census, and over 100 in 1911, all on Tyneside. It is possible to trace the name"€™s development in some families who were Bilcliff in 1841, and Bilclough in 1911. There appears to have been an intermediate stage of Bilcluff in some cases.
In other places the name disappeared, sometimes replaced by the more familiar Bentley if a family moved to a new parish.

Name origin

Bilcliffe is a locative name, in other words it derives from a place. Its origin is generally accepted to be the farmstead of Bilcliff in the Penistone area of the West Riding of Yorkshire, near Langsett. This farmstead is mentioned in the records from 1208, but it may well have existed long before that, and it is suggested that the name Bilcliff is of Saxon origin, meaning Billa'€™s cliff.

Historical occurrences of the name

  • 1208 Robert de Billeclif mentioned as holding land in Billeclif
  • 1297 Thomas de Billeclyve was a juror on an inquisition into a land dispute in the Graveship of Holne. There are several other mentions of this Thomas in the Wakefield Court Rolls at the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, and of other people named as "€œde Billecliff"€. As this was before the development of hereditary surnames, they are not necessarily related.
  • 1379 Johannes de Bylclyf and his wife Johanna paid 4d poll tax in the township of Penistone.
  • 1455 Thomas Bentclyff "€œbarbour"€ freeman of York.
  • 1472 William Bilcliffe recorded as a clergyman in Lincolnshire
  • 1546 Five people named Bilclyff were taxed under the Lay Subsidy in the Sandal Magna area.
  • 1587 Roberte Bilcliffe of High Hoyland named on the muster roll for the Wapentake of Staincross.
  • 1591 Thomas Bylcliffe , gentleman, of Leeds, admitted as a student to the Inner Temple.
  • 1633 Thomas Bilcliffe of Thrybergh listed as a member of Sir John Reresby'€™s Militia Troop.
  • 1633 Administration of the estate of Amer Bickliff, died "€œoverseas on the Amazon"€ granted to Roger North , creditor, at London.
  • 1637 Richard Bilcliffe named with four others in connection with a land grant of 300 acres in Fluvanna County Virginia to Robert Throckmorton.
  • 1645 Richard Bilcliffe of Houghton, Royalist, in charge of Houghton volunteers.
  • 1651 Edward Bilcliffe elected constable of Cumberworth half.
  • 1659 Jane Bilcliffe and Bernard Bilcliffe her father mentioned in a will in Barbados.
  • 1661 Joseph Bilcliffe listed as a bookseller in Great Piazza, Covent Garden.
  • 1668 Dom. Peter Bilcliffe elected prior of the Sheen Anglorum, Nieuport (English Carthusian monks in exile).
  • 1669 Richard and William Bilcliffe of Houghton, with their wives, listed as convicted Catholic recusants.
  • 1672 Hearth Tax paid by Robert, Edward, John and Thomas Bilcliff in Cumberworth, Robert Bincliff and widow Bincliffe in Ecclesfield, Richard and Thomas Bilcliffe in Houghton.
  • 1766 Ensign Joseph Bilcliffe one of the officers of the Madras Army sent to Bengal to support Lord Clive during the Batta Mutiny of 1766.
  • 1798 Land Tax paid by 18 individuals bearing the name Bilcliffe or a variant in Yorkshire, 1 in Derbyshire, 2 in Lancashire, 1 in Kent, 1 in Surrey.

Notable Bilcliffes of the past include:

  1.  Edwin Biltcliffe, American classical pianist and composer in the mid 20th century.
  2.  General James Bintliff, born in Halifax, American Civil War soldier, newspaper man, and philanthropist.
  3.  Jonathan Bintcliffe, active campaigner for cotton industry workers in South Lancashire in the 1860s. Emigrated to the USA and was  also active there.
  4.  Joshua Billcliff, early camera maker in Manchester.
  5.  Robert Bilcliffe Loraine, actor and aviation pioneer. His father Henry, a comedian, adopted the stage name of Loraine.
  6.  Samuel Bentlif, boot and shoe manufacturer, philanthropist and founder of the Bentlif Art Gallery at Maidstone Museum, Kent.

Name frequency

Bilcliffe is a rare name. The ONS figures for 2002 indicate 328 Bil(l)cliff(e)s in England and Wales, with 194 Biltcliffes and 258 Bin(t)cliff(e)s. A search of the 1881 census for England and Wales shows 284 Bil(l)cliff(e)s , 159 Biltcliffes, and 140 Bin(t)(c)liff(e)s.

Distribution of the name

There are Bilcliffe and variant records in areas of the country outside West Yorkshire from around 1445, with Thomas Bentclyff in York, and several generations of clerics in Lincolnshire. By 1550 some of these clerical Bilcliffs appear in the University records of Cambridge and to a lesser extent of Oxford. The first record I have found in London dates from 1591 with the admission of Thomas Bylclyffe of Leeds, gentleman, as a student to the Inner Temple. This is followed by a steadily increasing number of baptisms, burials and marriages as more bearers of the name were drawn to London.
Most Bilcliffes have always been found in West Yorkshire, but there are some families from around 1700 not only in London, and in counties adjacent to Yorkshire such as Lancashire, Cheshire and Derbyshire, but also further from the name'€™s origin on Tyneside and around Reigate in Surrey.
Bilcliffes in general appear to have preferred to stay near home. The entire US census collection from 1790-1940 on Ancestry contains only 790 Bilcliffe and variant records, the majority appearing as Bintliff. There are a few records in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


I have a database of more than 5000 parish register entries, wills, land transfers, occupational records, hearth tax records, manorial records etc., as well as access to the standard GRO records of births deaths and marriages from 1837, and census records from 1841-1911. Parish register entries from September 1837 are cross referenced with the relevant GRO reference. My research is mainly conducted in the UK, although as far as possible I follow family lines within the trees I have developed if individuals or whole families emigrate.
Currently I have several extended family trees which I believe descend to the present day. They are summarised here:
Tree Head: Edward Bilcliffe c.1630
Main locations: Cumberworth, Denby Dale,Wakefield/Dewsbury area, Huddersfield area, Massuchusetts USA, Connecticut USA
Main surname variants: Biltcliffe, Bilcliff
Number of people in tree: 2111

To see my virtual cemetery for this tree at Findagrave click below. The cemetery contains all known historic burials with family and biographical information.

Findagrave Virtual Cemetery Cumberworth Tree

Tree Head: John Billcliff c.1630
Main locations:  Penistone area, Huddersfield, Halifax/Elland, Derbyshire, Wisconsin USA, Minnesota USA, Arkansas USA
Main surname variants: Billcliff, Billcliffe, Bincliff, Bintcliffe, Bintliff
Number of people in tree: 1210
To see my virtual cemetery for this tree at Findagrave click below. The cemetery contains all known historic burials with family and biographical information.

Findagrave Virtual Cemetery Silkstone Tree

Tree Head: Thomas Binclife c. 1580
Main locations: Wath on Dearne, Ashton under Lyne, Manchester area, Cheshire, New Jersey USA
Main surname variants: Bincliff, Bintcliffe, Bintliff
Number of people in tree: 1049

To see my virtual cemetery for this tree at Findagrave click below. The cemetery contains all known historic burials with family and biographical information.
Findagrave Virtual Cemetery Wath-on- Dearne Tree


Tree Head: Edward Bilcliff c. 1710
Main locations: Gateshead area, County Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne area
Main surname variants: Bilcliff, Bilcliffe, Bilclough
Number of people in tree: 791

Tree Head: Stephen Bilcliff c.1672

Main locations: Worth, Redhill area, Reigate area, London
Main surname variants: Bilcliff, Bilcliffe
Number of people in tree: 350
Tree Head: George Bentliff c.1750
Main locations: Maidstone area, London
Main surname variants: Bentliff, Bentliffe
Number of people in tree: 138
In the longer term I hope to make data readily available on a website, but if you have ancestors with any of the names I have mentioned, or a similar name, please do contact me as we may be able to help each other


This is for the future. I have no close male relatives on my Bintcliffe line, but would be very interested in setting up or collaborating with a Y-DNA study if there are interested potential candidates. The main objective from my perspective would be to prove a connection between different branches of the family.



Please note that I have been informed the contact link below does not work for everybody. If this is so for you please email me at (replacing at with @)