This intriguing and unusual name has two possible sources, both locational, the first from 'Baylham' in Suffolk, and recorded as early as 1086 in the Domesday Book as 'Beleham', and in the Pipe Rolls of 1191 as 'Beilham' and subsequently as 'Beylham' in the Feet of Fines of 1228. The derivation of the first element is thought to be from the Old English pre 7th Century 'begel', a bend, or the Middle Low German 'bogel', meaning a loop, with the Old English 'ham', a village, thus, a village on a bend (the village being situated on a bend in the River Gipping). However, this name may also have originated in the village of Baalon, in the Meuse Valley, France, with the letter 'n' being transposed by dialect to 'm', a common feature of the conjoined language of the post Norman Conquest period. Amongst the sample recordings in Suffolk are the marriages of Ann Balham and John Tricker on April 9th 1678 at Stowmarket, and John Baalham and Ann Hoy on July 29th 1759 at Polstead. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hamelinus de Baalon, which was dated 1176, The Devon County Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, 'The Builder of Churches', 1154-1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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