This most interesting surname is a dialectal variant of Bailey, which has three distinct possible origins. Firstly, it can be an occupational name for a steward or official, from the Old French "baillis" or "bailif", and the Middle English "bail(l)". The word survives in Scotland as "bailie", the title of a municipal magistrate, but in England has developed into "bailiff", an officer of the court. The second source is topographical, denoting one who lived by the outermost wall of a castle or fortified town, from the Middle English "bail(l)y", as can be seen in the case of the Old Bailey in London which was part of the early medieval walls. Thirdly, the surname can be locational, from Bailey, in Lancashire which means "berry wood". One Roger le Baylly appeared in the Suffolk Pipe Rolls of 1230, while the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire recorded a Ralph de Baylegh in 1246. Walter Bayley (1529 - 1593), educated at Winchester and a fellow of Oxford, was Queen Elizabeth's physician. One William Butterworth Bayley (1782 - 1860) an Anglo-Indian, was educated at Eton, and rose to the rank of Governor-general of India (1828 - 1830); he later became a director of the East India Company. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Baylly, which was dated 1230, in the "Pipe Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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