Select Beal Surname Genealogy

, Beale, and Beall have been the main surnames here. Beal and Beale are English surnames; while Beall is mainly American.
The Beal surname in England may have derived from the Yorkshire place-name Beal, a village near Selby in the north of the county. Beal here was an abridgement of the Begale found in the 1086 Domesday Book, from the Old English beag (“river-bend”) and halh (“nook of land”).The Beale and Beal surnames in the south of England are likely to have had a different origin. Here it is thought that the name started out as a nickname for a handsome man, from the Old French bel which we would know today as beau.
Beall is a spelling found in America, coming from the Scottish arrivals into Maryland in the 17th century who were originally Bell. Meanwhile some Beals in America may have German roots, anglicized from Biehl or Buhl.

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Select Beal Ancestry

Scotland. A legend has it that the Beals were a Border Scots clan that raided into England during and after the 12th century, leaving
their name to villages today in Northumberland and Yorkshire. But evidence for such a clan is scant. Beals or Beales are few in Scotland today.

A number of Bealls did come to America from Fife in the 17th century. But they were Bells in Scotland and only changed their name to Beall on coming to Maryland. The name was usually pronounced as “Bell.” There did remain in Fife a small pocket of
Bealls at Dysart.

Daniel Beale was born in 1759 in Edinburgh “of Scottish parents
domiciled in Scotland.” He joined the East India Company in 1782 and headed east. There he and his younger brother Thomas were merchants active in the opium trade into China.

England. Beal has featured as a surname in Yorkshire, both Beale and Beal in the south of England.

Yorkshire. The Beal name may have started out in the East Riding. One family at Skirpenbeck near Stamford Bridge has been traced back to the churchwarden James Beal who died in 1715. Beals also appeared in Pocklington and Holderness. A Beal family has been farming in Holderness for eight generations. Around 1840 John Scott Beal moved to Hull where his sons became building contractors. Their family business, now known as Beal Homes, continues today.

By the late 19th century, however, the greater Beal numbers were in and around Sheffield in the West Riding.

South of England. Beale and Beal both appear in the south of England, on roughly a 60/40 basis in the 1881 census. Their main concentration at that time was in SE England.

The Beale line at Maidstone in Kent dates from 1399, according to the Beale Memorial in All Saints church.

“John Beale and his son Robert who died in 1461 and 1490 respectively were wine merchants in the days when the Archbishop of Canterbury dominated the town. But by 1600 their descendants had become either merchants or gentlemen.”

Thomas Beale who had commissioned the Beale Memorial died in 1606. His brother was John Pepper Beale, a merchant in London. John’s son Sir John was created a Baronet in 1660. Another descendant was Colonel Thomas Beale, a Royalist officer during the
Civil War who departed for Virginia.

“According to family tradition, Captain Thomas Beale distinguished himself in the siege of Pontefract castle in 1644 and was wounded, whereupon he was picked up by a Dutch vessel and brought across the Atlantic.”

There were two Beales at Biddenden in Kent in the early 1600’s – Richard who became a clothier and prospered and William who emigrated to New England. Richard married Mary Seaman and made his home at River Hall in Biddenden. His line later led to:

  • Seaman Beale, born in 1742, who came as a young man to London where he worked as a wharfinger (wharf keeper). He was bankrupted at one time and died in 1789. His two sons then returned to Kent.
  • and Richard Beale Sr, born in 1771, who with his son Richard Beale Jr kept farm diaries (which have been preserved) at River Hall from 1791 until 1834.

Other Beale/Beal lines have been:

  • a Beale family which was recorded as living in the Royston area of Hertfordshire from the 16th century as farmers, bakers and inn-keepers. In 1769 John Beale, a master baker, moved to London and opened a shop on Oxford Street. William Beale who arrived in Victorian times also started as a baker but later opened a restaurant. His descendants have expanded the Beales Group into the hotel business in London
    and Hertfordshire.
  • starting from William Beale of Camp Hill in the late 18th century, these Beales became established in Birmingham as prominent businessmen, lawyers, and civic leaders. Their company Beale & Co. was closely involved with the expansion plans of the Midland Railway and profited thereby. Samuel Beale was the mayor of Birmingham in 1841 and Charles Beale the mayor three times between 1897 and 1905. Around this time James Beale had built Standen House in Sussex.
  • while William Beal, born in 1785, was the son of a Beal family in Devonport. He became a Wesleyan minister in 1808. His son William followed him. Another son Samuel was an Oriental scholar, the first Englishman to translate the early records of Buddhism direct from the Chinese. A third son Philip is only remembered now for having survived the wreck of the Jenny Lind off the Queensland coast in 1850.
  • and other Beals were well-known stationers in Brighton in the mid-1800’s. Ernest Beal of this family was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the First World War.

Ireland. Thomas and Sarah Beale came to Ireland from Suffolk in 1652, initially settling in Armagh. Their son Joshua later moved to Cork. These Beales were Quakers, first recorded as such in 1711.

Thomas, Samuel and George Beale operated shops on Meeting House Lane in Cork city in the mid-18th century. Joseph Beale
was a woollen manufacturer in Mountmellick, Laios who emigrated to Australia in the mid-19th century. William Beale was murdered on the streets during the Irish Civil War in 1923.

America. Beal, Beale and Beall all appear in America.

New England. John Beal, a shoemaker, came with his family on the Diligent in 1638 – from Hingham in Norfolk to Hingham in Massachusetts. He died in 1688 at the good age of one hundred.

His line subsequently became Beals. Abel Beals migrated to Nova Scotia around 1777. William Beals was the proprietor of the Boston Post from 1831 until his death in 1870. This family line was covered in Nathaniel Shurtleff’s 1865 book John Beal of Hingham.

William Beale from Kent came to Marblehead around 1650. And there may have been two Beal lines in York, Maine:

  • Arthur Beal from Devon, first sighted there in 1655. The town of Beals in Maine was named after Mainwaring Beal. A descendant was George L. Beal, a Major General in the Civil War.
  • and William Beale, perhaps related, who was born there in 1664. He was a ferryman and inn-keeper in Kittery. Beale here became Beal after four generations.

Pennsylvania. William
Beale, a Quaker, left his home in Wiltshire for Pennsylvania in 1728. He settled with his family in West Whiteland township in Chester county. His line was covered in Mary Beale Hitchens’ 1961 book Here Comes Tomorrow.

Pennsylvania had German Beals that might originally have been Biehl or Buhl:

  • Peter Biehl, for instance, arrived from Germany sometime in the 1740’s and settled in Somerset county. His Beal descendants later moved onto Ohio. 
  • also making the move from Pennsylvania to Ohio was George Beal of German extraction from Beaver county. Having fought in the Revolutionary War he married Nancy Sparks and they moved to Guernsey county, Ohio around 1813.

Virginia. Thomas Beale from Kent arrived in 1645 and was made Sheriff of York county that year. He was clearly a person of substance, even more so after he had received a letter of recommendation from King Charles II in 1668. His son Thomas settled in what is now Richmond county and established the Beale home at Chestnut Hill. Among his descendants were:

  • Robert Beale who fought in the Revolutionary War and penned an account of his experiences for his children. His son Richard Turberville Beale was a Virginia Congressman and a Confederate Brigadier General during the Civil War. and George Beale who fought in the War of 1812 and subsequently was a paymaster for the US Navy in Washington. His son Ned Beale achieved national fame in 1848 for carrying to the East the first gold samples from California, thus contributing to the gold rush.

The Beale line here was recounted in Frances Beal Hodges’ 1956 book The Genealogy of the Beale Family.

Beall. Ninian Beall, a big strapping Scotsman seven feet tall with red hair, arrived a prisoner on the Maryland shoreline in 1652 and later became a wealthy and well-respected man in the colony. He was given warrants for thousands of acres of land, including much of what is now Washington DC. His grandson George sold off the land that is now called Georgetown.

Another Beall from Fifeshire in Scotland, Alexander Beall, arrived in Maryland around 1680. He, like Ninian, made his home in the vast tracts of land that made up Prince George’s county. There were marriages between his descendants and those of Colonel Ninian Beall.

Bealls from Maryland later migrated south and west.

Mannum Beall moved with his family to Georgia in 1787. His Bealls ran the Beall Springs Hotel in Warren county. Erastus Beall left there for Texas in 1853. And Thaddeus Beall who had fought in the Revolutionary War was the forebear of the Bealls of Carroll county, Georgia.

Reasin Beall moved to Ohio in 1803 where he fought in the War of 1812 and served as a US Congressman. His house in Wooster, Wayne county is still standing. Samuel Beall meanwhile departed in 1835 for Green Bay, Wisconsin where he made a fortune in land speculation.

Canada. Abel Beals migrated from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia
around 1777 and made his home in Annapolis county. Among his descendants were:

  • Zephaniah Beals who departed as a missionary to China in 1892 and was to stay there forty years.
  • and Carlyle Beals who is considered one of Canada’s great astronomers.

Australia and New Zealand. Joseph Beale, a Quaker, emigrated with his family to Australia from Ireland in the early 1850’s. His son Octavius formed a company to import sewing machines and pianos in 1879, after which he established Australia’s first piano factory at Annandale outside Sydney in 1893. He died in 1930 but the factory
continued production until 1975.

Thomas and Eliza Beal arrived in Melbourne from London around 1852. Their son Latham married there and he and his family moved to Dunedin in New Zealand in 1867. Bernard Beale, also from London, had come to New Zealand in 1861 and settled in Hamilton where he practiced as a doctor. His home there, Beale Cottage, has been preserved as an historic building.

William and Joseph Beale were prominent Wesleyan ministers in Sydney in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Joseph’s son Howard became a Liberal party politician who served in the Menzies Cabinet during the 1950’s and was later Australia’s ambassador to the United States. Howard’s son Julian has also been a Liberal party politician.

Select Beal Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Beal Names

Ninian Beall arrived in Maryland as a prisoner in 1652 and was its biggest landowner by his death in 1717.
Daniel Beale
was a Scottish merchant active in the opium trade into China in the early 1800’s.  William Beale of Camp Hill was the forebear of the Beale family in Birmingham during the 19th century.
Ned Beale
was a pioneer of the American West. He achieved national fame in 1848 for carrying to the East the first gold samples from California, thus contributing to the gold rush.
Andy Beal
from Dallas is an American banker, businessman, amateur mathematician and poker player

Select Beals Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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