This very interesting name found in several spellings, is of Iberian (Spanish-Portuguese) origins. It derives from "Ba'ia" meaning a bay, port or harbour, and is habitational for one who worked or lived at such a place, of which there are several examples. In addition such as "Bahia (Brazil), Bahia Blanca (Argentina) and Bahia de los Cochinos (Cuba) may well have provided surname holders of more recent times, although the origination remains Iberian. It has also been suggested that the nameholders could derive from the Persian "Baha" or "Bahai" which means literally "glory" but if so we have found no evidence to justify this opinion. Oddly the name in its English variant spelling has been recorded since at least 1679, when Susan Baher married Samuel Dason at St. James Church, Dukes Place, London on November 13th. From its place of origin the recordings include Estere Bahi who was married at La Bisbal, Gerona on October 31st 1734, whilst on April 22nd 1857, Josepha Bahia married Mariano Boada at Olesa de Montserrat, Barcelona. The Portuguese records include Betchior Baiao who married at Villa de Porto, Santa Madeira Funchal, on January 1st 1500. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Raymundo Bernardi Felichem Bahia, which was dated January 7th 1641, christened at Olot, Gerona, Spain, during the reign of King Philip 1V of Spain, 1621 - 1665. 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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