Origins of the Bicknell name

Origins of the Bicknell name

The unusual and interesting name of Bicknell is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname that derives from a contracted form of either of the places named Bickenhall, in Somerset, or Bickenhill, in Warwickshire. The place in Somerset is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Bichehalle”, and as “Bikenhal” in the 1243 Assize Court Rolls of the county, and means “Bica’s” or “Bicca’s hall”, or “hill”, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Bic(c)a”, from “becca“, pickaxe or matlock, with either “hyll“, hill, or “heall”, hall. The place in Warwickshire is recorded as “Bichehelle” in the Domesday Book, and as “Bykenhull” in circa 1220, and means “Bicca’s hill“, derived from the Olde English elements as above.

Locational surnames were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The modern surname can be found as Bicknell, Bignell, Bignall and Bignold, but see also our post on this site at

One Zachary Bicknell emigrated from Barrington, Somerset, to Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to a Bicknell family is an ermine shield, on a red chief a cherub’s head, the Crest being an angel in a praying posture between two branches of laurel in orle. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Bikenhulle, which was dated 1214, in the “Curia Regis Rolls of Warwickshire”, during the reign of King John, known as “Lackland”, 1199 – 1216.

Algernon Sidney Bicknell, family historian writing in his book Five Pedigrees of 1910, took “Bykenhulle” as the original name of the family, an anglo-saxon name which dates back to 1004 meaning “Beacon Hill.” Beacon Hill guarded the manor of Bykenhulle in Somersetshire, England in the 11th century.

Bicknell Name Meaning: habitational name from Bickenhill in Warwickshire or Bickenhall in Somerset. Both are named with the Old English personal name Bicca + Old English hyll ‘hill’, but in the Somerset name the final element alternates with Old English h(e)all ‘hall’. variant of Bignell. Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Bick: Dutch and German: from Middle Dutch and Middle High German bicke ‘pickaxe’ or ‘chisel’, hence a metonymic occupational name for a stonemason or someone who made or worked with such tools. German: from a pet form of the personal name Burkhart. English: of uncertain origin, perhaps from the Old English personal name Bicca. Alternatively, Reaney suggests it may be from Middle English bike ‘nest of wild bees or wasps’ and hence a metonymic occupational name for a beekeeper. Compare Bicker. Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic): German or English spelling of eastern Yiddish bik, Polish byk, or Russian byk, all meaning ‘ox’ or ‘bull’. This may be a translation of Shor. Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Early Origins of the Bicknell family – The surname Bicknell was first found in Somerset and Warwickshire, where they held a family seat from ancient times, long before the Norman Conquest in 1066.


Most of the sources take the second half of the name as a derivative of “Hill” (although some researchers have it also as “dale” and some as “hall”). The first part is a derivative of “pick”, a pick-axe or matlock, or of “bike”, a bee-keeper, or “Beacon”, a signalling beacon on a hill. Take your pick (excuse the pun) of the following:

Bicknell: Carpenter or woodsman on the hill
Bicknell: Beekeeper on the hill
Bicknell: From a place where there is a beacon on a hill

3 thoughts on “Origins of the Bicknell name

    1. Hello Thomas,

      Great to hear from you and thanks for the question.
      There are records of quite a few of the Bicknell family that have previously settled in Canada.
      Please take a look at the Family Tree –
      And the best place to find info & connect with any fellow Canadian Bicknells is our Facebook group –

      Good luck with your research. Best regards, Del.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.