Beckham Surname Meaning, History & Origin
Beckham Surname Meaning
The Beckham surname derived from a place-name in Norfolk that was recorded as Beccheham and Becham in the Domesday Book of 1086. The roots of the name are the personal name Becca plus ham meaning “homestead,” hence Becca’s homestead. Over time the name became Beckham.
Beckham may have started as an English surname. But today American Beckhams outnumber English Beckhams by more than five to one.
Beckham Surname Resources on The Internet
- The Beginning of Beckham Families. Early English and American Beckham history.
- Genealogy of the Beckham Family in Virginia. James Beckham’s 1910 book.
- The Beckham Family. Mattishall Burgh brothers from Norfolk transported to Australia.
Beckham Surname Ancestry
England. The Beckham surname originated in Norfolk and Norfolk still accounted for over 30 percent of the Beckhams in the 1891 UK census.
Norfolk. The surname was first recorded at the hamlet of Beckham in north Norfolk in the 14th century. Sir Roger de Beckham held lands there in the 1350’s. An old volume of English history written in the 1400’s mentioned these Beckhams as being Normans and that they were notorious for their bad temper. However, there was no further record of them there.
Beckhams next appeared in the 1569 Visitation of Norfolk where a pedigree was entered for John Beckham who was born at North Creake in 1421. He had descendants in the village of Narford in the Breckland district. It was probably from around here that William Beckham departed for America in 1639 as an indentured servant.
A later Beckham line began with the birth of James Beckham at Brandon Parva in 1741 and continued with descendants at Mattishall Burgh in the 19th century. The church of St. Michael in Norwich has a plaque to commemorate Zebedee Beckham, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who died in 1829 at the age of forty. He was the grandson of an earlier Zebedee Beckham who was born in Norwich in 1712.
London. Many Beckhams must have migrated south to London, because London Beckham numbers were greater than Norfolk Beckham numbers in 1891. The best-known Beckham family here was to be found in Walworth in south London within the borough of Southwark. John Beckham, born in 1846, was employed there as a scavenger. His descendant is the footballer and media star David Beckham.
America. There are many more Beckhams in America than in England. Part of this may have been due to other names from elsewhere in England, such as Bickham, arrived in America and became Beckham. Then there were Scots Irish Beckhams such as Abner Beckham, one of the early settlers of Culpeper county, Virginia where he died in 1811.
The gap in Beckham numbers between America and England did widen in the 20th century. Since 1880 the Beckham census numbers have expanded eight times; while the growth in the UK has been less than three times.
Virginia and the South. Most Beckhams were to be found in Virginia and points south. An early account was James Beckham’s 1910 book Genealogy of the Beckham Family in Virginia. A more reliable guide has come from James Heidlebaugh with his more than 13,000 pages of Beckham family information in America.
The first arrival was an indentured servant William Beckham who came to Upper Norfolk county, Virginia from Norfolk in 1639. He married Tabetha Randolph there.
Their descendants were to be found in Essex county, Virginia and, from the 1740’s, Granville county, North Carolina. Benjamin Beckham was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and afterwards moved to Chester county, South Carolina. Later Beckhams were to be found in Florida. Other Beckhams settled in Twiggs county, Georgia.
Beckhams at Bardstown, Kentucky began with William Beckham who arrived there sometime in the 1820’s. His son William married into the influential Wickliffe family and their son J.C.W. Beckham rose to become Governor and then Senator for Kentucky in the early 1900’s. Beckham county in Oklahoma was named after him.
Texas. Texas has the most numbers of Beckhams today. The first arrival was probably Lewis Beckham, a planter and slave-owner from Missouri, who came with his family in 1852 and made his home in Jackson county. Beckham township near Sulphur Springs in Hopkins county was named after early settlers Riley and John Beckham who arrived in 1864. Abner Camp Beckham died in Texas in 1883, a descendant of immigrant Abner Beckham of Culpeper county, Virginia.
Australia. Two Beckham brothers from Norfolk, Francis and Henry, were transported to Australia on the Sir George Seymour in 1844 for stealing a sheep. They were able to find work fairly quickly in Victoria because of the shortage of labor there. Their wives and children followed them from England five years later. And their younger brother Robert also came.
New Zealand. Thomas Beckham, an officer with a Gloucestershire regiment, came to Auckland on the Diana in 1841. He served as a magistrate there and a member of the House of Representatives in the 1850’s.
David Beckham’s Family Ancestry
David Beckham’s roots are in London from the 1860’s, first in south London – where his forebears were street cleaners, carmen, and seamen – and then in east London.
Just click below if you want to read more about this history:
- Roger de Beckham held the Beckham lands in Norfolk in the 1350’s.
- J.C.W. Beckham served as Governor and then Senator of Kentucky in the early 1900’s.
- Bob Beckham was a Nashville publisher who mentored generations of country music songwriters as head of Combine Music Publishing from 1964 to 1989.
- David Beckham was a football star for Manchester United and England in the 1990’s and 2000’s and has become a global media star.
- Odell Beckham Jr. has been a star wide receiver for a number of NFL teams.
Beckham Numbers Today
- 800 in the UK (most numerous in London)
- 5,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 800 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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