Bethum History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Scottish annals reveal that the Bethum surname came from a place name in Scotland, named with Viking elements. The name was no doubt taken on when they lived in Beetham in Cumbria. This place name is thought to come from the Old Norse "beth," meaning "embankment." [1] The parish was recorded as Biedum in the Domesday Book and at that time in Yorkshire and was land held by Roger de Poitou. [2] More recently, the parish had a population of 1,724 in the 2001 census. Interestingly, "in digging a grave near one of the pillars in the nave of the Church [of Beetham], in Aug. 1834, upwards of 100 silver coins, chiefly of the reigns of William the Conqueror and his son William Rufus, with a few of Edward the Confessor and Canute the Dane, were discovered." [3]

Early Origins of the Bethum family

The surname Bethum was first found in Cumbria at Beetham, a parish, in the union and ward of Kendal, historically in Westmorland. [3]

However, some of family were well established further south at Warton in Lancashire at early times. "Warton appears to have belonged to the lord of WoodPlumpton, by intermarriage with whose heiress the Betham family became connected with the property. The last of the Bethams was Roger, whose daughter married Sir Robert Middleton, of Leighton, in the reign of Richard III." [3]

Placita de Quo Warranto listed Richard de Betham, Norfolk, 20 Edward I (in the 20th year of King Edward I's reign.) [4]

Ralph de Betham, was a benefactor to Furness Abbey during the reign of Henry II. [5] Ralph de Bethum was listed in the Assize Rolls of Northumberland in 1279; Robert de Bethum, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379; and Stephen Betham, was listed in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1541. [6]

Early History of the Bethum family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bethum research. Another 88 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1320, 1599, 1632, 1659, 1665, 1684, 1642 and 1709 are included under the topic Early Bethum History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bethum Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Bethum has been spelled Betham, Beetam, Beetham, Beatam, Beatham, Beetem, Beedham and many more.

Early Notables of the Bethum family (pre 1700)

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bethum Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Bethum family

Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Bethum: Richard Beetham who settled in Virginia in 1720.



The Bethum 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: Per ardua surgam
Motto Translation: I rise through difficulty.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  6. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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