In spite of its obvious appearance, there are a number of unproven and interesting details which change the perception of Bellringer. Whilst the name is first recorded in the 13th Century (see below), its use does not appear to have spread outside the south-east of England. The position of the "town" bellringer was an official paid post, the analogy being with the hornblower, who occupied a similar post in other towns. The bellringer combined the modern activities of official spokesman for the Town Council, local newspapers, and the postman.However, eminent researchers have suggested that the name, in some instances, derives from both Bullringer (one who fitted "rings" to bulls), and Bellingen, the latter being a town in Germany famous in medieval times for its textiles. Certainly the records indicate that Bellringer changed to Bellinger in the 16th Century, before reverting to the original spelling in the late 18th Century. There are no factual explanations, but it has happened with many surnames. Sample recordings from London include: William Bellinger, who was buried at St. Peter's Church, Cornhill, in 1563; Lawrence Bollringer, a witness at Finsbury, in 1735; and Ann Bellringer, who married John Hammond at St. Olave's Church, Southwark, on July 30th 1810. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Bellringer, of Surrey, which was dated circa 1220, in the "Middle English Occupational Records", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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