This interesting surname of Scottish origin is a locational name from any of the several places in the Highlands, so called from the Gaelic "bail(e)" meaning "village" plus "puir", "pasture or grass". The second element is akin to the Welsh "pawr" meaning "pasture". The principal family bearing this name derive it from lands in the parish of Markinch, Fife. The surname dates back to the early 14th Century, (see below). Further recordings include one Michael de Balfoure (1365) who witnessed a confirmation charter by King David 11, to Ysabella de Fyf in 1365. The surname may also be of Israelic origin (also used as a male given name) adopted in the 20th Century in commemoration of the Balfour Declaration of November 2nd 1917, in which the British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), pledged support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Church recordings include Elizabeth, daughter of Raphe Ballfor who was christened at Allhallows, Henry Lane, London, on December 2nd 1604, and James Balfour married Ann Warren at St. Mary Mounthaw, London, on January 16th 1619. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Balfure, which was dated 1304, Calendar of documents relating to Scotland preserved in Public Record Office, during the reign of Interregnum, 1296 - 1306. 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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