This interesting surname is much less clear cut in its origins than it may seem at first. It is true that it can be topographical, and derive from the Olde English pre 7th century 'bec', therefore describing one who was resident by beech Trees or a beech orchard, as beech nuts were collected as part of the medieval winter diet. However the most likely explanation is that the surname has a quite different meaning altogether. It probably derives from "Baec" as in the modern 'beck' and meaning a small river or stream, since it was necessary to live as close to fresh water as possible. Finally it is also possible that some modern nameholders derive from 'Beche', another Olde English word meaning "The Valley". What is certain is that there have been many early and important nameholders. Examples include Euphemia de la Beche, in Norfolk in 1363, and Adam Beche, the Abbot of Colchester, who was executed in 1539 for opposing Henry V11's dissolution of the monasteries. Later examples are those of Thomas Beach who married Grace Sarken at St Michaels church, Cornhill, London, on July 1st 1575, and Rebecca Beech, christened at St James Church, Clerkenwell, on March 31st 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de la Beche, which was dated 1236, in the Worcester County Pipe Rolls, 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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