This splendid coat of arms was sent to us from the United States. It is taken from a memorial to Thomas Biddlecombe, a blacksmith who died at Stourton Caundle, Dorset, in 1638. Unfortunately, his memorial is no longer visible at the local church. The arms are still there, but are now attributed to a John Biddlecombe, probable maker of the church clock, who died in 1741. The arms are similar to those of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, one of the City of London Livery companies.
This may not be the only Biddlecombe coat of arms - we'd be glad to receive any others. We've already received one other from a family bible, and hope to have this visible on these pages by the end of the year.
The most convincing explanation of the origin of the surname is that it is a place-related surname. The place concerned is stated by various surname references to be Bittescombe, in the Brendon Hills, about 10 miles south of Minehead in Somerset.
We've had various reports of other places called Biddlecombe in the south-west of England, one of which is now confirmed. Fred Biddlecombe, from British Columbia, Canada, found it on a tourist map which he bought in 1992. This Biddlecombe is a valley a mile or two NW of Wells (smallest city in England), betwene the A39 and the village of West Horrington. It's shown as "Biddle Combe" on the Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) map No. 141 (formerly No. 4), at the grid reference ST569478. It is not shown on the Landranger 91:50,000) map for the same area.
If you think you know of other such places, we'd be delighted to hear about them, but we'd appreciate a grid reference or precise instructions relating their location to easily-found features like towns and road junctions.
We believe that the surnames Biddlecombe, Biddlecome, Biddlecomb, Biddlecom, Biddlescombe and Biddlescomb are all variants of the same name. As Biddlecombe is the most common version, we use it in these pages, rather than plastering the phrase 'and similar names' all over them. If all the names come from a place called Bittescombe, then you could say that we're all spelling them wrongly!
You can find more detail about various aspects of the surnames by following the links below.
|Surname origins||The standard explanation, and some alternatives.|
|Hall of Fame||Some famous people called Biddlecombe. Nominations welcome...|
|Oldest Biddlecombes||Information about the earliest known Biddlecombes - those alive before 1700.|
|Coat of Arms||A bigger picture of the arms of Thomas Biddlecombe, as seen in the church at Stourton Caundle, and a verbal description (warning: includes large image - over 100kb).|
|The Stourton Caundle connection||More information about the Biddlecombes in the Dorset village of Stourton Caundle|
|Map of Bittescombe||A map showing the location of Bittescombe, the most convincing origin of the surnames (warning: includes large image - about 70kb).|
|Finding Bittescombe||Verbal instructions for finding this place without downloading a large image.|
|Genealogy||Imformation about people carrying out research into these surnames, and snippets of information which they've supplied.|
|Statistics||A quick and dirty telephone directory survey for the UK, and the relative popularity of various versions of the surname, measured by numbers of hits from web searches.|
Editor: Peter Biddlecombe
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