BEHARREL This surname is of French origin. Mark Anthony Lower writes that “Three brothers of this name came over with Sir C. Vermuyden to assist in draining Hatfield Chase, co. York, temp. Chas. I.” Sir Anthony Wagner (“English Genealogy”) gives more details; Sir Cornelius Vermuyden brought workers over from Holland, some with Dutch names some with French. Wagner suggests that the French were Walloons, but they may have been Huguenots exiled in the Low Countries. They brought families and made their own community at Sandtoft, Lincs., close to Hatfield, and to Goole. An antiquary named George Stovin copied some entries from the church register of this community, which was fortunate as the original register has since been lost. Stovin’s copies include the surname Beharrel, and other names of interest, of which more later.
Some examples –
“1642 Le 22 Febrier a este baptize Isaac fils de Jean Beharrelle et de Jane Jordain.”
“1667 Le 24 Feb ont este Espouser Abram Beharelle et Elizabeth Letaille.”
The biblical names are worthy of note. Old Testament names were favoured by French Protestants, or Huguenots.
The “French” community of Sandtoft was subject to attacks from hostile locals and eventually broke up and scattered. Some settled in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Margaret Beharrel , widow , was buried at Holy Trinity, Hull, 1732 (this from the diary of Abraham De La Pryme whose ancestry lay in this community). Abraham Beharrel of Wawne is on record in 1775. Robert Beharrel had a livery stable in Princess Street, Hull, in 1823 (Baines’ Directory).
The meaning of the original French surname, Béharelle or Béharel, is not known. Jean Tosti suggests “perhaps a nickname of a beggar, or a diminutive of Béhart (one who keeps his mouth open, nickname of a person who laughs a lot).” In France the name (both spellings) is best represented in the Pas de Calais and Nord departments.

Addendum, 14.12.2013: Since posting these notes I have found a website containing much information on the Beharrells –


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