Recorded as Bea, Bee, and Bees, this is an English medieval surname. It has at least four possible origins. It may be from the female personal name Beatrice, and hence a nickname or shortform, or more likely it was for most nameholders job descriptive and as such described a beekeeper. If so this was from the pre 6th century Olde English word "beo" meaning the bee. Howver it is also possible that at least fro some name holders it could have been a nickname for a person who was considered to be a "busy bee" or a good worker, whilst some nameholders are known to have originated from the small town of St Bees in Cumberland. This place name derives from the Latin and Gaelic Sancta Bega, a virgin saint from Ireland who is believed to have formed her priory of St Bees in about the 7th century. The surne name is first recorded in the late 12th century as Be and le Boe see below. The spelling as Bee is first recorded with that of Alice Bee in the Poll Tax returns for Yorkshire in 1379. Other examples include Richard Bees, a witness at St. Dunstan's church, Stepney, on January 24th 1589, whilst Anne Bee married Theopolis Leigh at Christchurch, Newgate, city of London, on November 13th 1728. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Robert Be. This was dated 1198 in the Knight Templar Rolls of Yorkshire during the reign of King Richard 1st known as "Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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