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About the study

The surname 'HAYBITTLE' (without any observed variants) appears in my maternal line and provided an excellent research opportunity for an academic assignment completed in 2014. At that time I committed to a 'One Name Study' at some future date. 

The maiden name of my maternal grandmother, the surname HAYBITTLE appears, without variants, more than 50 times in my family tree, spanning a period from 1690 until the present day. The name has already featured in my response to Assignment’s 1and 2 of this lecture; however, beyond the statistical distribution of my HAYBITTLE ancestors, I am keen to understand the origins of the name and, given that it appears only seven times in the 2013/2014 BT Phone Directories, its prospects for survival.

Scrutiny of the maps below and, in particular the profile based on 1837-1851 Deaths, clearly evidences that this was a highly localised surname during the first half of the 19th Century. Despite some modest migration away from the epicentre of Sussex by the time of the 1911 Census, the most current data suggests that the name is now in rapid decline.

I have already outlined the meaning of the HAYBITTLE surname, its likely origins and variants in previous assignments, so do not intend to duplicate that content here. However, my research efforts have also led me to the online ‘doorstep’ of a blogger calling himself ‘The Wandering Genealogist’[1]. It transpires that this individual is also related to the HAYBITTLEs and is connected to me via my 2x times great grand aunt, Jane HAYBITTLE (born 1827 in Ashurst, Sussex). Fired by this discovery and a desire to learn more about this surname, I searched the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS) database and established that no dedicated study of HAYBITTLE has yet been undertaken. I have since joined the Guild and, although currently preoccupied with my IHGS course, have every intention of commencing a one-name study at some future date. In the meantime, inspired by this assignment, I will be devoting more time to building out the HAYBITTLE stem of my family tree in the coming months.

[1] URL:

Variant names

Variant forms of HAYBITTLE are more difficult to determine, in which circumstances, I look briefly to expert opinion for assistance.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames identifies only one variant, in HAYBITTER[1], whilst the Penguin Dictionary of Surnames[2] and online Internet Surname Database[3] exclude the name completely.

Bardsley[4] is more helpful, offering:

Haybiddel, Haybittel. –offic. ‘the hay-beadle’, a hayward or keeper, from hay, a hedge, an enclosure, and beadle, a bailiff; v. Hayward. This surname is peculiar to cos. Surrey, Sussex and Kent, where it has flourished for centuries. It may still be found in the neighbourhood of Reigate (v. Lower’s Patr. Brit and Sussex Arch.Coll. v.261). The 16th century form was Heybetyll. 1692. Bapt. – Elizabeth, d. Thomas Habetell: St. Jas. Clerkenwell I 345; 1694. Bapt.- Thomas, s.Thomas Haybetle: ibid p.357; 1711. Married. – Thomas Kempton and Eliz. Haybetel, ibid.’

This entry prompts two immediate thoughts; the first that HAYBITTLE may share some historic links with the names HAY and HAYWARD; the second, that a name stated to have ‘flourished for centuries’ now appears to be in danger of extinction. With regard to the former, the distribution of HAY and HAYWARD in the 1911 Census (see maps below) does not immediately suggest strong geographic connections with HAYBITTLE; indeed, the surname HAY seems to be embedded in the north of England. However, the possibility of more distant links should not be ruled out.

In terms of the decline of the HAYBITTLE name, this is very much borne out by my own family tree, largely attributable to a number of childless marriages and the dominance of female progeny.

As to other variants, a search of the 1911 Census on the following: HAYBIDDEL, HAYBITTEL, HAYBOTTLE, HAYBATTLE, HEYBETYLL, HAYBETLE and HAYBETEL proved unproductive, with the notable exception of 2 individuals, both born in South Africa, sharing the surname HAYBITTEL and described as ‘Visitors’ to a nursing home in Kent. Separately, it would be fascinating to understand more about their origins.

Finally, the Bardsley listing also usefully categorises HAYBITTLE as an ‘official’ name, reinforced by the fact that there are no places bearing a similar name in the Gazetteer.

[1] No instances of this variant are found in the 1837-1851 Death Indexes, the 1911 Census or the 2013/2014 BT phone directories.

[2] Basil Cottle, The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames, Penguin 1978

[3] URL:

[4] C.W. Bardsley, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames with American Instances, Baltimore Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967. Online version also available at

Name origin

Although the numbers are small, mapping 'HAYBITTLE' deaths between 1837-1851 starkly reflects the presence of the surname in only two Counties: Sussex (9) and Surrey (5). This suggests that the surname is of single origin. By the time of the 1911 census, the HAYBITTLEs appear to be more widespread in the South-East of England, with some evidence of ‘strays’ in Herefordshire (4), Durham (1) and Lancashire (1).


Name frequency

The 1911 Census shows the HAYBITTLE surname to be dominant in the south of England, with modest populations in Surrey (46), Sussex (20) and London (27). The later 2013/2014 BT phone directory analysis paints a sparser picture, with only 7 ‘exact match’ entries across the whole of England and Wales (and none in Scotland).