This interesting surname, having long associations with the Irish county of Louth, is of Norman French origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places in northern France named with the Old French elements, "beu, bel", lovely, and "eau, ewe", water (Latin "aqua"). The name was initially brought to England by followers of William the Conqueror during the Conquest of 1066, and subsequently introduced into Ireland by Norman settlers in County Louth and the adjoining part of County Meath. The name of this great Hiberno-Norman family is perpetuated in Bellewstown (Counties Louth and Meath), and in Mountbellew (County Galway). From the mid 16th Century on, several members of the family took a prominent part in Irish legal and political affairs as sheriffs and members of parliament, among them Sir John Bellew, who was on the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics. Captain Thomas Henry Grattan-Bellew, of Mountbellew, was a Knight of Malta. Early recordings of this surname from England are few, and include, Ralph Belewe (Oxfordshire, 1253). A Coat of Arms granted to the Bellew family is a black shield fretty gold, the Crest being an arm embowed habited the hand proper grasping a chalice pouring water into a basin also proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Bella Aqua, which was dated 1210, in "Medieval Records of County Louth", during the reign of King John of England, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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