The surname of BICKELL was a locational name 'of Bickley' a parish in County Devon, four miles from Tiverton. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name was derived from the Old English word BICCA, and literally meant the dweller at the bees' nests. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families.
The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired.
Early records of the name mention Henry de Bickleghe who was documented in the year 1273 in County Devon. William de Bikelegh, County Devon appears during the reign of Henry 111 (1216-1272). Later instances of the name mention Ralph Bicklie of the County of Hampshire, who registered at Oxford University in 1575. John Bickley married Mary Brogden in London in the year of 1607.
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