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Last name: Beardsley

  • This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place, believed to have been situated in Nottinghamshire or Leicestershire where the name is most popular. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards.
  • The placename is believed to derive from the genitive case of the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Beard", from the vocabulary word for a beard, with "leah", wood, glade, clearing, hence, "Beard's wood". *Early recordings of the name include the marriage of Jese Beardsle and Edward Weze on February 26th 1575, at Carlton by Market, Bosworth, Leicestershire, and the marriage of Joan Beardsley and Thomas Weston at Gedling, Nottinghamshire, on April 16th 1604.
  • William Beardsley, a mason, aged 30 yrs., was an early emigrant to New England, leaving London on the "Planter" in April 1635. A famous name-bearer was Aubrey V. Beardsley (1872 - 1898), an English illustrator noted for his stylized black and white illustrations, especially for Oscar Wilde's "Salome".
  • The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Beardsley, which was dated November 28th 1573, marriage to Joane Ulsecroft, at Ashby De la Zouch, Leicestershire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603.
  • Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2014


  • SOURCE: Location
  • USAGE: English
  • Meaning & History: From the name a village lying between Ashton-under-Lyne and Oldham, in the County of Lancashire, England. It means "Beornred's clearing" in Old English, Beornred being a given name meaning "warrior counsel".
  • **A member of the Bardsley family tested and joined the Beardsley/Beardslee DNA project. His results show that the Bardsley and Beardsley/lee families share a common ancestor, BUT in the very ancient past, perhaps as many as 20,000 years ago.

Beardsley/Beardslee DNA Project: What we know

        DNA testing of descendants of the immigrant William Beardsley-17 has indicated that Beardsleys from this lineage belong to Haplogroup I, subclade L1483 {see the results page}
 It is believed that the I haplogroup originated in the European area around Belgium or northern Germany after the Ice Age, and migrated into the British Isles as part of the Viking raids. Once established in England the greatest populations of the L338 
subclade of haplogroup I, or at least the subsection of L338 that contained the early Beardsley ancestors, settled in the areas between Ireland and London. SNP A4638 has been found in a L1483- Beardsley member as well as two non-Beardsley surname members and a Barbadian participant of the 1000 Genomes Project. SNP L1483 is, so far, only found in descendants of the immigrant William Beardsley. A branch of the Beardsley family not descending from William has tested negative for L1483 and positive for A4638 which is one step above, indicating that L1483 is a branch defining indicator.  This suggests that the ancestors of those who test A4638+ / L1483- are close cousins to William Beardsley.

Note about use of the "Beardsley Family Crest"

        The Family Crest (commonly called a Coat of Arms) used and described as "the" official crest for this family has not been documented as being connected to the American Beardsley/Beardslee family descended from William the immigrant, at least not to the best current knowledge.