This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a now "lost" place, thought to have been in Devonshire, due to the large number of recordings in that county. The placename means either "Beald's valley", or "Beald's settlement", derived from the personal name "Beald", of uncertain origin, but possibly from the Germanic element "bald", bold, brave, with the Old English pre 7th century "denu", valley, or the Old English "tun", settlement, farm. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain since circa 1100, due to such natural disasters as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, or to the widespread practice of "clearing" large areas of land to make sheep pastures during the height of the wool-trade in the 14th and 15th centuries. The modern surname can be found as Balston, Balsdon, Ballston, Balstone, Balsdone and Ballsdon. Among the recordings in Devonshire are the marriages of Thomasyne Balston and Edward Sticker on August 10th 1617 at Axminster, and of Phillip Balston and Agnes Lake on September 30th 1632 at Holy Trinity, Exeter. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Balstone, (witness), which was dated October 28th 1562, at Honiton-on-Otter, Devonshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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