Recorded as Balnave, and the patronymic Balnaves, this is a Scottish surname. It originates from an estate known as 'The lands of Balneaves', in the parish of Kinkell, in the former county of Angus. It is said that a manor house existed on the site until the 18th century, but has now completely disappeared. The origin of the name is probably Norman-French, the first recorded spelling suggesting such an ancestry, and in anycase many followers of William, duke of Normandy, who conquered England in 1066, were granted lands in the south of Scotland, by the Scottish monarchy and government. An early interesting name bearer was Henry Balnaves. His date of birth is uncertain, but he is known to have died in 1579. He was a prominent reformer of the church, who had been educated at St. Andrews University and later at Cologne where he became acquainted with Swiss and German reformers. He was a judge and lord of the Sessions in 1538 and again in 1563. At various times he also held the offices of Secretary of State and deputy-keeper of the Privy Seal. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Laurence de Balnavis. This was dated 1395, in the charters of Kyrknes and Louchor, and during the reign of King Robert, the Steward of Scotland 1371 - 1420. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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