This name, with variant spellings Baulch, Belch, Belk, Boakes, has two distinct possible origins, the first being a metonymic occupational name for someone involved in the erection of roof-beams. The derivation in this case is from the Medieval English "balch" or "belch", itself coming from the pre 7th Century Old English "balca", a balk or beam. The word may also have been used metaphorically for a man of stout, heavy build. The second possibility is that the name originated as a nickname from the Medieval English "balche" or "belche", literally meaning "swelling", but used chiefly in the sense of "swelling pride" or arrogance. Early recordings include: William le Belch, (Essex 1295); Robert Balch, (Somerset, 1327) and Richard le Balch, (Sussex, 1332). In 1604, one, John Balche was entered in "The Oxford University Register", and on November 26th 1637, William Balch and Mary Browne were married in St. Helen's Bishopsgate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Belch, which was dated 1185, "The Knights Templars Records of Oxfordshire", 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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