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Origins of Becnel name and fate of Marguerite Becnel
Posted by: Darlene Becnel Schnatz (ID *****0435) Date: March 04, 2004 at 11:26:59
  of 45

In a message dated 3/3/2004 11:55:35 AM Central Standard Time, Aljoschex writes:

>I have the parents of Thomas Becnel, Sr. as Guilliaume >William Becnel b. 1698 in Sommersatshire, England and >Elisabethe Lang b. 1699 also in Sommersatshire. >Unfortunately I neglected to mark down my source. Do you >have any info on this? It seems possible since I note >that Thomas has a daughter named Marguerite Elisabethe >named possibly after her grandmother.

The 'Source' could be my data (if you got it off the intenet) that I had published online some time ago - for which my source is the marriage certificate (see note below regarding Linda Plaisance Knecht); or if you got it from the library, most widely distributed is Elton Oubre's first book on Vacherie, or a variety of other printed sources on Louisiana history.

The source for the parentage of Thomas in all the published works that I know of - if they bother to mention it at all - is also the marriage certificate, so, you can only come to the conclusions that are directly proved by such certificate- of which you now have a copy.

Note: I received my copy of the marriage certificate from Linda Plaisance Knecht about 10 years ago and continue to be most grateful to her for sharing her research with me.

re: sources on William Becnel:
Darlene Becnel Schnatz, BECNEL, A LOUISIANA FAMILY; June, 2001.
Elton J. Oubre, VACHERIE, ST. JAMES PARISH, LOUISIANA: HISTORY AND GENEALOGY; Thibodaux, LA 70301, Oubre's Books, 1986.

I previously had it entered in my files as:
Guilliaume William Becnel
I now record it as William Becknel or Bicknell, as again, the only evidence of his name is the marriage certificate which could be either of those spellings.

Guilliaume is just William translated into French by the non English speaking priests. It is most likely that Thomas reported their names in English as Thomas Bicknell and Catherine Brou, and the priests converted them.

Pronounced: gee-OM
French form of WILLIAM

Somersetshire means County of Somerset. I did research on this county and the origin of the Becnel name during my 10 years of active digging. Others have put bits of this work on websites in part or full sometimes enhanced with their own 'wishful' analysis without bothering to mention a source. I have removed most of my websites and now practice only one on one information sharing, or sharing through the Becnel Family Genealogy Forum or St. John Parish mail lists.
At the end of this message, I say much more about this problem.

see the map

SOMERSET SHIRE BY ROBT. MORDEN. A good engraved map of the county divided into hundreds. Decorative title cartouche and three scales. 16 x 14 inches, 415 x 355 mm. Hand coloured. Interesting watermark of a hare. Good condition. From Camden's Britannia.

Some try to make it seem as if Becnel were a German name, but it is not. It's origins are from the town of Bickenhall (originally Beacon Hill) back when Thomas of Bickenhall was all the name needed. Then it went to Thomas Bickenhall, Thomas Beckenell, Beckonoll, Bicknill then Bicknell, then in America, Becknell and Becnel in Louisiana.

I have even seen it spelled Bequenelle.
In London there is a Bickenhall College, Bickenhall Hotel, etc.

See this site for origins of the name Bicknell:

History of Bickenhall:

see also:

The only information found on Margueritte is a record of her baptism. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Lang, but there is only hypothesis as to whether she was named for her or someone else, or if they just liked the name Elizabeth. The name Margueritte could also be after her grandmother (Catherine's mother shown as Margueritte on the marriage cert.) or her godmother, Margueritte Dervain, but who knows for sure because there is no record of why they named her what they did.

No documentation has been found detailing what became of her. Her two brothers left many descendants, but none are found for Margaret or Marguerite as the French priest recorded it, nor any marital information or death details. Her baptismal sponsors were Ivan Dervain and Marguerite Dervain. (SCB, B1, 64).
source: Elton J. Oubre, VACHERIE, ST. JAMES PARISH, LOUISIANA: HISTORY AND GENEALOGY; Thibodaux, LA 70301, Oubre's Books, 1986.

A theory is that when Catherine remarried after the death of Thomas (Margaret was about 6 years old), that she began using the last name Roussell.
Could it be possible that Marguerite Roussel, daughter of Catherine Brou and Pierre Denis Rouselle, was actually the youngest daughter of Thomas Becnel and Catherine Brou?
It could bepossible, but we cannot know for sure. To prove or disprove, I can find no birth record for Marguerite (Rouselle) Roussel and no death record for Marguerite Becnel.
However, Marguerite is listed as a minor child upon the petition for tutorship following the death of Pierre Denis Roussel, and if she were Marguerite or Margaret Becnel, she would have been about 29 or 30. see below
Also, as a personal note, It is does not seem likely to me that Catherine would have two daughters living at the same time named Marguerite.

source: St. John the Baptist Parish Extracts, p.95

3 Apr 1786 - Tutorship of Dec 12, 1780.
Catherine Brou, widow of Denis Roussel; Pierre Becnel, Thomas Becnel, and Mathias Roussel, brothers of the minor children of the late Roussel and Catherine Brou; accompanied by Pierre Antoine Brou, Catherine's brother; Daniel Pain, Antoine Bourne, and Francois Dupuis, friends of the family; petitioned Robin de Longy to name a tutor and surrogate tutor for the minor children of the late Denis Roussel.
Catherine Brou is named tutor of her minor children by Roussel, namely: Mathias, Christophe, Antoine, Pierre, George, and Marguerite. Pierre Becnel, half-brother of the Roussel children, is named surrogate tutor.
Thanks to Steve Fleming for pointing this petition for tutorship out to me.

Thomas who said on his marriage certificate that he was from London was probably using the generality that someone from Metairie would use when far from home saying they are from New Orleans. The Becnel origin is Somerset County, or Somersetshire as it was called in olden times.

(Like in Lord of the Rings they used Shire rather than county or parish - meaning - according to the dictionary an administrative subdivision)
source: Merriam-Webster; 2001

The history of the family name.

The Bicknells are of Teutonic blood. Crossed the river Rhine and invaded France before the Christian era.

The original name was De Pavilly, a baronial family of a town called Pavilly (north of Rouen). The family manor was established in Normandy by Lord Amalbert de Pavilly in 664AD.

Some came to England with William the Conqueror as part of the Norman invasion of Britain.

Our English home was Beacon Hill in Somerset County England.
It is an ancient Anglo-Saxon manor (known variously as Bykenhulle, Bichehalda [Evon Domesday??], Bichehalle).

Aluric, a Saxon was the first holder of the manor.

After 1066 William gave the manor to his 1/2 brother Robert (Earl of Cornwall) who passed it on to William del'Estra.

In 1260 William's daughter Johanne married Robert de Pavilly of Normandy, Bykenhulle came as a dower.

They were involved directly in much 12-13th century events - Reginald died in first crusade, Ralph witnessed a charter in the reign of Henry I, Henry III sent money to Thomas for travels, Reginald attend the king in council as baron in 1260, Richard and Sir John were priors of the Hospital of St John in Jerusalem in 1361, Sir Walter was one of the founders of the Knights of the Garter.

By 1281 John (son of Johanne and Robert) had changed his name to de Bykenhulle. Over the years 47 separate spellings have occurred as English evolved (e.g., Byhenhulle, Bikenoll, Bykenyll, Bickenhill, Bickernoll, Biconyll, Bycknell, Byconyll, Biknell,...). Bignall, Bignell, Bignold, and Bucknell are in no way related.

Pavilly-Bicknells were a powerful, wealthy, and influential family in the 14'th and 15'th centuries. A very close relationship existed with the Roman church.

As time passed the rapacious and capricious Henry VIII and harsh dogmatic Edward VI' confiscated, appropriated money and treasure of churches and monastery, and that 'gifts and donors were involved in one common doom', 'and henceforth the history of the Pavilly-Bicknells recedes into medieval twilight'

source: Origins by Phyllis Bicknell Carroll - 1981, Thomas W Bicknell - 1913 & A Sidney Bicknell - 1912

And notes kindly passed on to me by Paul Bicknell.


Somerset, maritime county in SW. of England, bounded N. and NE. by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the Severn, and from NE. round to SW. by the counties of Gloucester, Wilts, Dorset, and Devon; greatest length, N. and S., 43 miles; greatest breadth, E. and W., 67 miles; area, 1,049,812 acres, population 469,101. The coast line is generally low and marshy in the E., but lined with lofty slate cliffs in the W. The interior consists of ranges of hills separated by valleys, or by extensive low marshy flats. The principal ranges are the Mendip Hills, the Polden Hills, the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills, and Exmoor. The chief rivers are the Avon and the Parret (with its tributaries the Yeo or Ivel, Isle, and Tone), the former forming the boundary on the NE., the latter traversing the centre of the county; the other streams are the Yeo, Ax, and Brue. Both soil and climate are well adapted for agriculture, particularly in the low alluvial tracts; and in the Vale of Taunton heavy crops of the finest wheat are raised. The rich meadows rear large numbers of cattle, and the hilly grounds are pastured with numerous flocks of sheep. In the E. of the county are some small isolated coalfields, the most southerly in England, the quarries which furnish the famous Bath stone, and a large development of magnesian limestone; the W. of the county consists chiefly of slaty rocks, forming the wild moorlands of Exmoor. The chief minerals worked are lead, iron, and slate. The principal manufactures are woollen and worsted goods, gloves, lace, linen, crape, silk, paper, glass, and bath-bricks. There are salmon, herring, and other fisheries in the Bristol Channel. An important chain of internal communication is formed by the Yeo and Parret navigation and the Glastonbury Canal. The county contains 40 hundreds, 2 liberties, 489 parishes with parts of 3 others, the parliamentary and municipal boroughs of Bath (2 members) and Taunton (1 member), and the municipal boroughs of Bridgwater, Chard, Glastonbury, Wells, and Yeovil. It is nearly co-extensive with the diocese of Bath and Wells. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 7 divisions - viz., Northern, Wells, Frome, Eastern, Southern, Bridgwater, and Western or Wellington - 1 member for each division; the representation was increased from 6 to 7 members in 1885. (Transcribed from Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887. -C.H.)
Personal Note:

Much of my Schnatz family tree was somehow annexed into the genetic research compendium on Ancestry's site, including nicknames, mispellings and old errors in connection - all intact direct from my data.

Attributed to: Edmund West, comp. Family Data Collection - Individual Records. [database online] Provo, UT:, 2000.
Ancestry describes the records as:
A unique database containing 5 million genealogical records (20 million names)

This is what 'Edmund West' says about how he got the data:

"These individual records were created during a study about human genetics and disease. The millions of individual records were created from a variety of sources, including birth, marriage, and death records, obituaries, probate records, books of remembrance, family histories, genealogies, family group sheets, and more, but the documentation was not kept. Since genetics confirms relationships in a scientific way, researchers were not concerned with citing the source of every genealogical fact compiled."

Scientists do record sources.
Anyone with interest in real research of any kind records sources.
Sources are the most important note for any historical record.

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