Recorded in many forms including Belle, Bellay, Bellee, Beller, Bellie, Belly, Bellye, and the very rare and possibly extinct Bellyman this is a surname of conectural English origins. It is almost certainly ultimately of early French origin from the words "bel or belle", both meaning good or fair, and also used as a personal name and later a surname in the British Isles, after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The suffix endings where they occur such as -ie, or -y or even -ee, relate to endearment diminutives or patronymics, and translate as "Little Belle" or probably "son of Bell(e)." The surname also exists as Belson or Bellson, from the same origins, although Bellyman may be a cognate form of Bellman, meaning either a town crier, or possibly "friend or servant of Bell". Robert de Bel was recorded in Norfolk in the year 1186, and Richard le Beller, meaning a bell founder in the year 1281. Other recordings taken from early surving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include John Bellye, a witness at the church of St Lawrence Pountney in the city of London, on February 14th 1590, Mary Bellay, who was christened at St Andrews by the wardrobe, on July 25th 1610, and Alice Belly, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on May 1st 1645. The Italian form as Belli is first recorded in London in 1838, and this may have influenced some later spellings.
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