Recorded in an amazing range of spellings as shown below, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the twin villages of Bilney in the county of Norfolfk. East Bilney is near to the town of Dereham, whilst West Bilney is further north near Kings Lynn. Recorded in the Domesday Book of 1085 as "Beleni", the meaning is believed to be "Billa's island" from an Old English pre 7th century personal name Billa, and "-eg", an island. It would seem that dialectally the original spelling as "Beleni" was retained at least to some extent, in speech so that the later surname spellings retain confusing variations of both Bilney and Beleni. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification, after they left their original homes and moved somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, lead in many case to the development of "sounds like" spellings of which this is a supreme example. The first recording is probably that of Geoffrey de Bylyne of Cambridgeshire in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, William de Billenye of Norfolk in 1329, whilst Edward Bylnye married Rebecca Russell at St James Clerkenwell, on January 14th 1626. This was in the registers of the diocese of Greater London, and over the next two hundred years the name spellings there included Belleny in 1628, Billany (1671), Belony (1683), Beleney (1758), Billanie (1786), Belany (1792) and Bellony in 1803.
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