This surname is primarily of medieval Welsh origin, and though apparently a patronymic form of the biblical name Elias, Elis (from the Hebrew "Eliyahu", "Jehovah is God"), is, in fact, a patronymic from the Old Welsh male given name "Elisedd", a derivative of "elus", kindly, beloved. The following entries from medieval Welsh Registers (1200 - 1500) show the name both in its original form, and as "Elise" (with the loss of the final "dd") - "Cyngen ab Elisedd" and "Elise ap Madoc". One Johnes Willims fils Willimi Belis, noted in Parish Registers of Conway, Wales, dated 1593, also appears as Jana filius (son of) Willimi Belis in the same parish records, dated 1603. The surname, with variant spellings Belliss, Bellus, Bellas and Bellhouse, is particularly well recorded in Church Registers of Gloucestershire and Shropshire from the mid 17th Century, which indicates a confusion with two earlier surnames; the first, Bellows, being a metonymic occupational name for a bellows-blower, deriving from the Anglo-Saxon "beliz", and written in the 16th Century as "bellies, bellis", and "bellice"; and the second, Bellhouse or Bellas, being a topographical name from residence by a detached bell-house or tower. Some examples of the surname may consequently derive from either of the latter two sources. In December 1640, the marriage of Margaret Bellis to John Bulfor took place at Ellesmere, Shropshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John ap Elys, which was dated 1513, in "The Extent of Chirkland", by G. P. Jones, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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