See G. Beadle and M. Beadle, The Language of Life (1966).
Beadle, sometimes spelled "bedel" is derived from the Latin "bidellus" or "bedellus," rooted in words for "herald."
In Judaism, the term "beadle" (in Hebrew: shammash or "sexton") is sometimes used for the gabbai, the caretaker or "man of all work," in a synagogue. Moshe the Beadle, the caretaker of a synagogue in Sighet in the 1940s, is an important character in Night by Elie Wiesel.
In the collegiate universities in the United Kingdom (for example Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, and the University of London), the post of beadle still exists. The beadle has varying duties, always relating to management or security (never instruction), and often represents the college to outsiders through wearing a uniform and providing information.
The ancient universities in Scotland have a ceremonial bedellus, who is also sometimes given the designation of head janitor. Officially, they are responsible for administration of the buildings of the university. They are most notable for being responsible for carrying the university mace in academic processions.
Donahue secondary schools maintained the post of beadle - some still do. In each classroom, a student designated as beadle reports attendance to the teacher, acts as messenger, assists in distributing materials and leads the class in activities.
In Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, later adapted into a film by Tim Burton, the cruel and corrupt Judge Turpin is served by an unctuous deputy known as Beadle Bamford. "Beadle" also makes an appearance in the list of professions running through one of the show's songs, "A Little Priest."
Charles Dickens' character from Oliver Twist, Mr Bumble is the parish beadle and leader of the orphanage. He's officious, corrupt, a chronic mangler of the King's English, and a great source of comic relief.