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Origin of the Place-name Bagnall

The Domesday Book of 1086 was a great exercise in recording all of the lands and settlements of early England (see ).
  However, the land at what now comprises the parish of Bagnall was not recorded as a settlement at that time but was noted as being largely wasteland containing one or two ploughlands, being a part of the Parish of Endon. Please disregard some incorrect references to the place name being in existence "long before the Norman Conquest of 1066" published in some genealogy bucketshop websites such as

It was not much longer before reference was made to the existence of a settlement at Bagnall in the annals of an individual who took his name from the village of Stanley which is adjacent to Bagnall. He was called Adam DE STANLEIGH and was born in 1126 in Hooton, Cheshire, England, 38 years after the Domeday Book was completed. (He has Ancestral File number 8XKQ-8C - the LDS Ancestral file shows his name as William.)  He is later recorded as succeeding to the Manor of Bagnall.

the following link contains a reference to this:

"The eldest son of Adam de Stanley, succeeded to his father's Manor of Talk on the Hill, and to the manor of Bagnall, near Leek, which had been passed to his father by Adam de Aldithley. (Talk on the Hill was one of three manors held by Gamel, a Saxon Thane at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086.) After the death of his father, his cousin, Adam de Aldithley, wished to rearrange his estates by exchanging his Manor of Stanleigh (which was near William's Manor of Bagnall), and half of the Manor of Balterley, for William's Manor on Talk on the Hill, (which adjoined Adam's Manor of Aldithley). The Manors concerned were all held from the De Verduns, and their exchange had to have the Overlord's consent. Since Stanleigh was an additional tenancy held by special favor, Adam de Aldithley proposed that if that Manor could not be warranted, he an his heirs would give as much in value to William and his heirs. Stanleigh would be held by William from Adam de Aldithley for a yearly rent of 12 pence. A Charter was arranged and the Manor of Stanleigh passed to William. He now being in possession, he adopted the surname "de Stanleigh" and thus became the ancestor of the House of Stanley. He used the surname when he witnessed the Charter in 1203 as "William de Stanle". Adam de Aldithley and William de Stanleigh were the first members of their respective families to use surnames in official documents. It is highly unlikely that their respective fathers, Lydulph de Aldithley and Adam de Stanleigh, possessed surnames during their actual lifetimes".

Early evidence of an individual adopting the Bagnall surname from the settlement at the location occurred when William de Bagenold was a witness to the deed of gift of Ela de Aldethelegh to Trentham Priory circa 1154 (source: Dugdale's Monasticon vol.6, page 397).  

The earliest form of place-name is comprised of two Anglo Saxon elements.

     The Oxford  Dictionary of English Place-names, A D Mills, (Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280074-4) states:

     "Bagnall, Staffs. Badegenhall 1273. Probably 'nook of land of a man called Badeca'. Old English Pers. name (genitive -n) +halh.

     The etymologist Duigan in his "Notes on Staffordshire Place-names" suggests Bacga as the personal prefix, and the Old English word holt meaning woodland as opposed to halgh as above, hence BACGAHOLT (Bacga's Woodland).

     Eckwall sees the first element as Old English Bodeca as the personal noun, with the second syllable being either halh or holt as above.

     It is not difficult therefore to speculate that the earliest place names could have been any combination of Bacga's or Badeca's halh or holt, hence: Bacgaholt, or Bacgahalh, or Badecaholt, or Badecahalh.  Certainly, this part of Staffordshire was thickly wooded and as Bagnall is located among small valleys and cloughs it would seem that either root is appropriate.

To learn how the place-name became a surname  to jump to our page dedicated to the development of the Bagnall and associated surnames.

Early Village History

  Early spellings of the place name are BAGGENHALL in 1204, BAGINHOLT in 1271, BADEGENHALL in 1273, and BAGENHOLT in 1281.

     Evidence of very early of human occupation in the area was uncovered in July 1964 when a prehistoric perforated stone axe hammer was discovered at nearly Tomkin. This is displayed in the Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent) museum (see: "Where is Bagnall").

     The siting of the early settlement at Bagnall probably owes its origins to some sort of religious observance, it being at a place where moorland routes converged. It was certainly on the old salt route to Weston-on-Trent.

     A cross was erected to guide travellers and to indicate a well-worn route. Known locally as the Market Cross (or Butter Cross), it was sited on what became the Village Green. A cross in the form of a War memorial is on the Green today.

     By 1563, ten household comprised the, by now, village of Bagnall. In the Hearth Tax return of 1666 this had climbed to nineteen, and increase of nine (or approximately forty persons) in 103 years. By this time however, holders of Bagnall related surnames had dispersed from the village, and none were shown in the return. The family name of  Murhall had been the most prominent in the village from 1253.

1890 Map of Bagnall Area

1890 Map of Bagnall to see 1890 map of Bagnall area (large image).

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