This interesting surname is of Irish (Norman) and French origin, and is from a nickname for a fine friend, derived from the Old French "beu, bel", fair, handsome, from the Latin "bellus" and "ami", friend, itself from the Latin "amicus". The nickname could have been either literal or ironic. This 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, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal or bird's appearance or disposition, and to habits of dress. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Bellamy, Belamy and Belami. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Edmond Bellamy and Elizabeth Lawe on October 21st 1618, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, and the christening of Buckingham, son of Ralph Bellamy, on July 20th 1665, at St. Michael's, Bassishaw. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a black shield, on a gold fesse, cottised silver, three blue crescents, the Crest being an arm couped habited black cuffed silver holding in the hand proper a sceptre gold, on the top a crescent silver. 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 Templars", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 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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