This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Belsay in Northumberland. The placename is first recorded as "Bilesho" in the Pipe Rolls of the county of 1163, and as "Belesho" in the 1254 "Valuation of Norwich"; the name is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Bil(l)", a short form of any of the Olde English compound personal names with the first element "bil(l)", sword, halberd, such as "Bilfrith", sword-peace, and "Bilheard", sword-brave, with "hoh", ridge, "raised back of land". Locational surnames were acquired by the lord of the manor and local landowners, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. As the name was dispersed in this way, a number of variant forms were created; examples from London Church Registers include: Arthure Bullisey (1593); Francis Bellcey (1652); Ursley Belsea (1679); and Mary Belcy (1695). Richard Belsey and Katheren Singleton were married in Tynemouth, Northumberland, on January 22nd 1610, and Samuel, son of Samuel Belsey, was christened at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, on January 13th 1654. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Betteres Baylzay, which was dated January 26th 1549, marriage to Thomas Person, at St. Oswald's, Durham, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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