Recorded in various spellings including Bellamy, Belamy, Belamey and Belami, this is a famous English surname. It is however of French origins and a pre medieval nickname for a fine friend. The derivation is from the words "bel-ami", ultimately from the Latin "bellus amicus". The nickname could have been either literal or ironic since it is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, and even habits of dress. The original name holders are believed to have been in the army of William, The Conqueror, in 1066, and to have been granted lands in Yorkshire, as shown in the first recording below. Early examples of the name recording taken from surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include: the marriage of Edmond Bellamy and Elizabeth Lawe on October 21st 1618, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, and the christening of Buckingham, the son of Ralph Belamy, on July 20th 1665, at St. Michael's, Bassishaw. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a black shield, charged with a gold fesse, cottised silver, and three blue crescents. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Belami, which was dated 1185, in the records of the Knight Templars, for the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. 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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