Show ContentsBethell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Welsh name Bethell is a patronymic surname created from the Welsh personal name Ithel. The surname Bethell features the distinctive Welsh patronymic prefix "ab" or "ap," which mean "son of." The original form of the name was ab-Ithell, but the prefix has been assimilated into the surname over the course of time. [1]

Early Origins of the Bethell family

The surname Bethell was first found in Herefordshire, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

However, some of the family were found at Watton in the East Riding of Yorkshire at early times. "A great part of the soil belongs to Richard Bethell, Esq., whose family were long seated at Walton Abbey, a brick mansion in the Tudor style, with octagonal turrets, stone dressings and buttresses, and fine gardens attached; it is now, by permission of Mr. Bethell, the residence of the incumbent." [2]

Early History of the Bethell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bethell research. Another 183 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1820, 1622, 1606, 1668, 1660, 1615, 1679, 1654, 1679, 1617, 1697, 1617, 1637, 1649 and 1659 are included under the topic Early Bethell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bethell Spelling Variations

Although there are comparatively few Welsh surnames, they have a great many spelling variations. Variations of Welsh names began almost immediately after their acceptance within Welsh society. In the Middle Ages, it was up to priests and the few other people that recorded names in official documents to decide how to spell the names that they heard. Variations that occurred because of improper recording increased dramatically as the names were later transliterated into English. The Brythonic Celtic language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, featured many highly inflected sounds that could not be properly captured by the English language. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were all indicated by the particular variation of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Bethell have included Bethel, Bethell, Bithel, Bithell, Bythell, Bythel and others.

Early Notables of the Bethell family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Sir Walter Bethell (died 1622); Henry Bethall (c 1606-1668), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1660; and Hugh Bethell (1615-1679), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1654 and 1679. Slingsby Bethel (1617-1697), was an English politician from Alne, North Yorkshire. He "was the third son of Sir Walter Bethel of Alne, Yorkshire, who married Mary, the second daughter of Sir Henry Slingsby of Scriven...
Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bethell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Bethell migration to the United States +

Many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, searching for land, work, and freedom. Like the many other immigrants from the British Isles, they made a significant contribution to the development of Canada and the United States. The Welsh and their descendents added a rich cultural tradition to the newly developed towns, cities, and villages. An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Bethell:

Bethell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Bethell, aged 27, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [3]
  • James Bethell who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Mr. James Bethell, (b. 1608), aged 27, British settler traveling aboard the ship "Safety" arriving in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • William Bethell, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [3]
  • William Bethell, who settled in Virginia in 1653
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bethell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John, Bethell Jr., who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1704 [3]
Bethell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Bethell, who arrived in New York in 1801 [3]
  • Mary Bethell, aged 15, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1837 [3]
  • B Bethell, aged 21, who arrived in Key West, Fla in 1839 [3]
  • John M Bethell, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1877 [3]

Canada Bethell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bethell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

Australia Bethell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bethell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Bethell, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "China" on 24th January 1846, arriving in Norfolk Island, Australia [6]
  • Miss Elizabeth Bethell, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Duchess of Northumberland" on 25th November 1852, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]

New Zealand Bethell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bethell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Bethell, (b. 1858), aged 21, British settler travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Stad Haarlem" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Bethell (post 1700) +

  • Tom Bethell (1936-2021), English-born, American journalist who wrote mainly on economic and scientific issues
  • Sir Richard Bethell (1800-1873), English judge, politician, 1st Baron Westbury, made Lord Chancellor of England in 1861 [9]
  • Christopher Bethell (1773-1859), Bishop of Bangor, born at Isleworth, Surrey, 21 April 1773, the second son of the Rev. Richard Bethell, of Wadham College, Oxford [9]
  • Ernest Thomas Bethell (1872-1909), British journalist who founded the Korea Daily News
  • John Henry Bethell (1861-1945), 1st Baron Bethell, British politician, member of the UK Parliament
  • Nicholas William Bethell (b. 1938), 4th Baron Bethell, British historian
  • Donald Bethell, Professor of chemistry at the University of Liverpool

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Joseph Bethell, British Lead Writer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and died in the sinking [10]

The Bethell Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ap Ithel
Motto Translation: Son of Ithel

Suggested Readings for the name Bethell +

  • The Early Bethells and Their Descendants by Virginia Mohler Garde.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's. Retrieved October 5th 2021 from
  5. Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  6. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 5th February 2021 from
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd July 2021). Retrieved from
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  9. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 17 June. 2019
  10. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook