This unusual and interesting name 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 "Bic(c)a'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. One Zachary Bicknell emigrated from Barrington, Somerset, to Weymouth, Massachussetts, 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. 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.
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