This is an Italian surname of medieval origins. Recorded in many spellings including Bella, Belli, Belin, Bellini, and Bellino, it is a derivative of the popular biblical personal name Jacob and the parallel form of James. The Dictionary of Italian Surnames suggests that the meaning of the surname may be "Beautiful James", which itself could be some sort of commentary on the Italian predeliction for male heirs! Italian surnames are notorious amongst researchers for the fluidity of their basic form, sometimes as in this case, only one letter remains from the original Jacob. Italy was the last country in Europe to adopt "fixed" spellings for hereditary surnames and then in many cases, only as recently as the end of the 19th century. In addition it was only in 1860 that the loose federation of self governing states and kingdoms that made up Italy, were combined by General Garibaldi into the modern state. Prior to that date and for sometime afterwards, there was no central recording of births, dealths, or marriage, it being left to the individual states, most of whom were too poor, to institute the required bureaucracy. This surname though is different in at least one respect, the original recordings are back in time and comparable with similar English or German early recordings. These examples include Giovanno Bellini, the son of Jacope Bellini born at Padua, Padova, in the year 1426, whilst on February 16th 1581, Anna Maria Bellini marrried Bicholaus Nisensteiner, who seems to have been German, at Caltron, Trento. Jean Belin was recorded at Torre Pelice, Torino, on February 1st 1695, and Salvatore Bellino at Santa Agarta, Foggia, on November 27th 1862.
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