This interesting name has two possible origins, the first of which is from the 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 is 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'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Bele, which was dated 1206, The Essex Curia Rolls, 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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