This interesting surname is of Norman and Anglo-Saxon origin, has two possible sources, the first of which is from a Norman nickname for a handsome man, in Old French "bel" or "bele". The word was also used as a personal name for women, meaning "fair, beautiful", and the surname could therefore be derived from either. In the plural forms, Beals or Beales, the name is patronymic, and means "son of Bel". The second possible origin for the modern surname is locational, from either of the two places called Beal in Northumberland and in West Yorkshire.The former was first recorded as "Behil", and means "bee-hill", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "beo-hyll", the latter, first recorded as "Begale" in the Domesday Book of 1086, means "land by the bends (of the River Aire)", from the Olde English "beag-halh". 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. An early settler in the New World Colonies was Sara Beale, aged 28 yrs., who embarked from the Port of London on the "James", bound for New England in June 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to a Beale family from London is a silver chevron with three gold estoiles between three silver griffins' heads erased on a black shield, the Crest being a gold unicorn's head erased, semee d'estoiles red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Bele, which was dated 1206, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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