This most interesting surname is of Old French origin, and originated as a nickname for someone of a cheerful, pleasant demeanour or disposition, or for someone considered to be good looking, derived from the Old French elements "beu, bel", fair, lovely and "chere", face, countenance. Variants of the surname in the modern idiom include Belsher, Belshaw, Beuscher, Beaushaw, Bewshire, Bewshaw, Bewshea, Beushaw and Bowsher. The name is also found in the York cycle of Medieval Mystery Plays as a term of address, often derogatory: Herod addresses a messenger, "Bewcher! wele ye be", and when Annas orders a boy who has been bound to be brought in, the soldier announces, "Lo, here is the belschere broght that ye bad bring". The surname is one of only a few names which have retained their original spelling since the first recordings in the early 13th Century (see below). Richard Belecher is recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire in 1275, and Alexander Belcher is mentioned in the Feet of Fines of Essex in 1453. Jonathan Belcher (1682 - 1757) was governor of Massachusetts Colony (1729 - 1741), and was one of the founders of Princeton University. He was a wealthy merchant, having inherited a substantial fortune from his father, Andrew Belcher (died 1717). The family were established there by Andrew Belcher in 1654. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Belcher, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", 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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