This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from Baylham in Suffolk, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "begel" meaning "bend", and "ham", homestead, or "hamm", water-meadow. The placename was recorded as "Beleham" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name may also be locational from Barlon in Meuse, France. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and further early recordings include: John Balum in the 1212 Curia Regis of Wiltshire, and Rosa Balam in the 1275 Subsidy Roll of Worcestershire. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Ballam, Balaam and Balam. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Maria Balam on August 28th 1575, at St. Andrew's, Enfield; the christening of Frauncista Ballam on September 3rd 1577, also at St. Andrew's, Enfield; and the christening of James, son of James Ballam, on March 21st 1760, at St. Botolph without Aldgate. The family Coat of Arms is a black shield, on a silver fesse, between three silver estoiles, three pellets, the Crest being out of a gold ducal coronet, a red demi cock wings displayed combed and wattled gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hamelinus de Baalon, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "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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